Racing: Moore much the merrier

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The Independent Online
POCKETING bookmakers' money is always a pleasurable experience, doubly so when it is achieved on more than one front. And for the second Saturday in succession Arthur Moore, one of the shrewdest trainers in Ireland, raided the satchels to some effect.

Last week his charge Graphic Equaliser landed a monster coup and took the prize money in the Ladbroke Hurdle at Leopardstown; here yesterday Jeffell, backed from 12-1 earlier in the week to 13-2, carried off the bets and the purse in the Victor Chandler Chase.

Though the two-mile race is not likely this year, as it has in the past, to have any real bearing on the divisional title, the Queen Mother Champion Chase - for various reasons Moore does not favour taking Jeffell to Cheltenham - it was a pretty contest to watch.

Jockey Conor O'Dwyer had said beforehand that when on song the grey eight- year-old jumps as if on springs, and it soon became apparent that this was such a day. Celibate, a confirmed front-runner, blazed off on at a pace that, combined with the testing ground, ensured that no prisoners were to be taken. Arctic Kinsman tried to go with him but cried enough before the first ditch, where Jeffell moved up to take his place.

The pair, the big, flashy pink-nosed grey and his tiny chestnut shadow, matched strides down the back towards Swinley Bottom. But it was apparent that O'Dwyer had a ton of horse under him as he sat still and tight at each obstacle. His reins were looped and slack; no need to send any messages of urgency down them, Jeffell had the situation well under control.

Even when Mick Fitzgerald kicked on and Celibate took a couple of lengths lead as he scuttled round the final bend, and Jeffell made his sole error, a tiny one, at the penultimate fence, O'Dwyer did not panic and eased back to level terms before the last.

Or Royal had made ground on the leading two in the last half-mile, but a clumsy effort at the final fence put paid to his challenge. Jeffell passed the post a length and a quarter in front of Celibate - confirming their form at Punchestown last year - and Or Royal was a good 10 lengths ahead of the fourth to finish, Lord Dorcet. Mulligan's jumping again proved inadequate as he crashed out at the open ditch.

Jeffell, as behoves any well-backed horse, was given a rousing reception by his connections -- including the traditional wearing of the Moore trilby for the benefit of photographers.

The horse's performance was in sharp contrast to that on his last visit to England, when he was pulled up on the same course in November. Since then, though, he was not disgraced in chasing home Dorans Pride at Leopardstown. Moore put his Ascot flop down to the gelding's rather fragile temperament, which cause him to break ranks in the pre-race parade.

"He's sensitive", said the trainer, "It was his first race of the season then, and he got a bit geed up. That's one reason why I wouldn't be in favour of Cheltenham. It's not really the place for horses who are a bit highly strung."

The other reason is more pragmatic. Though Jeffell - unusually, a British- bred horse with a high profile in an Irish stable - was one of last season's leading novices on the other side of the water, Moore acknowledges that yesterday's form is probably not up to championship standard.

It was his first Victor Chandler win, his Feroda having been touched off by Meiklour eight years ago. Moore added: "We were unlucky that day, and this has made up for it. We did think we'd a great chance if the occasion didn't get to him"

Moore and O'Dwyer will be back in England next month to do battle with another of the old enemy when Graphic Equaliser tackles the Tote Gold Trophy at Newbury. And the bookmakers may not wish to know that all is well with the hurdler. Moore has a 16-1 voucher about Graphic Equaliser, the 100-30 favourite for the race. "He's absolutely fine", said Moore, "not a bother on him. He's bombproof, and if they all had his temperament training would be easy."

Strong opposition to Graphic Equaliser failed to emerge from the concluding Teal & Green Handicap Hurdle, which was won from the front by Nipper Reed. The Rod Simpson trained runner had two and a half lengths to spare from second-placed Cadougold, who is now a top-priced 16-1 for the Newbury handicap. The Toby Balding-trained Bellator finished in sixth place but remains a 9-1 third favourite for the Gold Trophy with the sponsors.

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