Many believed that they had seen a future Gold Cup winner, so comprehensive was One Man's defeat of Mailcom and Spikey. Mudahim, his principal rival in the market, was left standing forlorn and riderless after a despairing dive at the second last.
By then Mudahim was on the retreat, burned out by an attempt to match One Man jump for jump. Chris Broad's gelding is one of the year's leading novices, but One Man outjumped him again and again. The final image for Warren Marston, Mudahim's jockey, before the ground rose to meet him, was of One Man going clear in little more than a canter.
'I think he's all right,' Gordon Richards, his trainer, said afterwards with typical understatement. 'And he's still a baby, so he'll improve a bit.'
Expect a queue outside the local Ladbrokes this morning, as backers attempt to take the 7-1 offered against One Man for the Sun Alliance Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next month. He is only third in the firm's list behind Ireland's Merry Gale, who runs at Leopardstown on Sunday, at 4-1 and Martin Pipe's Lord Relic, whose fencing debut at Lingfield recently was in modest company. He is a 6-1 chance.
Anyone who gets on One Man can take further encouragement from the simple fact that Richards is eager to run him at Cheltenham. No horse makes the long trip from Greystoke unless Richards is convinced that he has a winning chance. 'I love Cheltenham,' he said, 'but there's no point taking a horse there to have a look around.'
If her current improvement continues, Dubacilla might be a contender for chasing's top prizes next season. The mare carried top weight to success in the Comet Handicap Chase, though coming to the last it appeared that Rough Quest, closing under Graham McCourt, was going best of all.
It was just the incentive Dubacilla needed. 'Graham's come to me and she's just said 'let's go again',' Dean Gallagher, the winning jockey said. 'She pinged the last and went away up the hill.'
It was the third valuable success in 12 days for Henry Cole, whose West Country farm is home to a small string of horses and a much larger herd of dairy cows. A mark of Dubacilla's recent improvement is that she was 22lb higher in the weights than when last running in a handicap. 'I was going to complain to Mr Mordaunt (the handicapper),' Cole said, 'but I thought I'd better wait until after the race and I'm glad I did.'
Though she beat leading chasers Young Hustler and Run For Free at Cheltenham last month, entries for the Gold Cup had already closed and Dubacilla was not among them. 'Before that it would have looked stupid to enter her,' Cole said, 'and afterwards everyone said I was stupid not to.' Dubacilla will run in the Ritz Club Chase and may again carry top weight.
The only Festival hints after the James Capel Novice Chase were negative ones. Lackendara, the comfortable winner, was the sole member of the five-runner field without an entry in the Arkle Trophy, and those behind him seem most unlikely to trouble the judge at Cheltenham.
The win was a promising sign for Henrietta Knight, whose string has struggled with a virus in recent months, and the second leg of a double for Jamie Osborne. Lackendara and Scobie Boy, his mount in the opener, both advertised his particular gift with front-runners.
Osborne took the honours in the absence of Richard Dunwoody and Adrian Maguire, both riding for their retaining yards at Ludlow. Given the rich purses on offer at Ascot, it was surprising that neither David Nicholson nor Martin Pipe could find a single horse in their yard worthy of the trip to Berkshire.
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