Racing: See More shines at Business end

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The Independent Online
SEE MORE BUSINESS passed his Gold Cup dress rehearsal here yesterday with flying colours, and then some. The King George VI Chase winner's first visit to the biggest stage of all resulted in a comprehensive trouncing of a high-class field in the Pillar Chase, a victory that was the more impressive because of, rather than despite, a mistake at a crucial point of the race.

The eight-year-old, reunited with his regular partner Timmy Murphy, fluffed his lines four fences from home, and dropped back from his comfortable third place. Tony McCoy, on the leader Cyborgo, kicked for home and poached what looked like a decisive cushion as he freewheeled down the hill.

But Murphy, riding with a coolness beyond his 23 years, suspected what he had under him, gave See More Business time to recover and, incredibly, was back on the bridle on the turn for home, travelling so well that it was almost as if he had just joined in. He caught Cyborgo at the second- last fence, went past him in the air, his ears pinned flat to his head, and quickened away up the hill for a four-length win.

Rough Quest, the Grand National winner two years ago, stayed on into third place, nine lengths behind Cyborgo, with one of the early leaders, Yorkshire Gale, fighting back past Addington Boy for fourth.

But really, it was a solo tour de force by See More Business. Ladbrokes and Hills cut his price for a repeat performance in the Gold Cup in March to a market-heading 7-1, alongside the likes of the Irish raiders Dorans Pride and Imperial Call and The Grey Monk from the North. But the Tote are taking no chances and make See More Business 7-2 clear favourite.

For the wiry little gelding's trainer Paul Nicholls, based at Shepton Mallett in Somerset, it was a highly satisfactory moment. "He never got the credit he deserved for his Kempton win", he said. "After that race all the talk was about what was wrong with the beaten horses, not what was right with the winner. But he has real class, and he's proved it today."

According to Murphy, who missed riding his favourite horse in the King George because of a whip ban, the mistake looked worse from the stands than it felt in the saddle. "He was a bit too long at the fence, and he clipped the top and landed on his head a bit," said the young Irishman. "He's not got the most scope in the world, but he never really felt like falling. I just waited with him and once he was going again I gave him one smack, and he took off."

The extra furlong of the three-and-a-quarter mile and 110 yards Gold Cup will hold no fears for See More Business, who will not appear in public again until the big day. "The further he goes, the better he is," said Nicholls. "At home, he's workmanlike rather than spectacular, but we never gallop him far enough to bring out the best in him. We had him spot-on at his racing weight, 503 kilos, both at Kempton and today. He's still a young horse, and there is improvement in him."

The afternoon's Grade One contest, the Cleeve Hurdle, provided the second leg of a double for Nigel Twiston-Davies and Carl Llewellyn, when Mistinguett returned to her best for an all-the-way 15-length defeat of Bimsey. John Duggan's mare, who holds an entry in the Champion Hurdle, will make a quick reappearance in the Tote Bookmakers Sandown Handicap Hurdle at Sandown this Saturday.

Earlier, in the Timeform Novices' Chase, her stablemate Jack Doyle laid down his Festival claims with a facile eight-length defeat of Spring Gale. Jumping superbly, the big chestnut, who has suffered with his breathing in the past and still has a heart murmur, went to the front three out and won with any amount in hand. "He took it up too soon, really," said Twiston-Davies, "But Carl couldn't hold him any longer. The Cathcart Chase will probably be his race."

Mr Percy, returning from a 76-day lay-off, ran a satisfactory prep for the Tote Gold Trophy at Newbury in 13 days' time with his hard-fought neck defeat of L'Opera in the Anita's Special Birthday Treat Hurdle. Winning trainer Josh Gifford said: "He'd pulled some muscles in his loins, but we knew he was well, and this will bring him on a lot. He doesn't get a penalty for today - we wouldn't have run him if there'd been one involved - and if he gets into the Tote on 10st7lb or so he'd have a squeak."