Racing: Jodami bolsters his Cup claims

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The Independent Online
ON FRIDAY the trainer Peter Beaumont spent six hours driving Jodami to Newbury from his base at Brandsby, in Yorkshire. His faith was justified, as Jodami claimed a convincing victory in yesterday's Mandarin Chase.

Always travelling best of all, Jodami hit the front after the last and stayed on strongly to hold off Esha Ness by two and a half lengths, with Sea Island a further four lengths away in third. He is now as short as 6-1 second favourite behind The Fellow with Coral for jump racing's most sought after prize.

Certainly his jockey Mark Dwyer is confident, saying: 'He's sure to run a big race in the Gold Cup. He missed the fourth last here, but immediately put himself back in the race with a great leap at the next. He's got class and is still improving.'

All very fair comment, but it is worth remembering that while Jodami carried top weight of 12st to victory yesterday, he was racing off a handicap rating 23lb lower than that of the King George winner The Fellow. With that sort of progression required, his present price makes little appeal.

Jodami's next target is the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on 14 February. Competing on level weights there with Martin Pipe's duo Run For Free and Chatam will provide the acid test.

One horse who will be on many Cheltenham Festival short lists is the New Zealand import Lord Relic, who had earlier landed the Challow Hurdle with a performance which had 'trained by Martin Pipe' written all over it.

He made all of the running under Peter Scudamore to win eased down by 10 lengths from Gaelstrom in spite of some inefficient hurdling. If he gets his jumping together, that may be the nearest he comes to defeat for the rest of the season.