Cheltenham: Knowhere finds right way

But bookies don't rate Festival chances after understudy takes starring role

In the fictional world of the best theatrical dramas, the storyline goes like this: with the stars absent at the dress rehearsal, the unknown from the chorus line steps forward to produce a sparkling performance inthe leading role and goes onto greatness.

But this being the real life of the racecourse, Knowhere's victory at the last meeting here before the curtain goes up on the Festival in March was greeted in thoroughly prosaic terms. Bookmakers Victor Chandler did slash the gelding's odds for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but from 250-1 to100-1, and even his trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, conceded: "I don't expect Paul Nicholls will be losing much sleep."

The consensus yesterday was that this was Knowhere's day of days, on this stage at any rate. "I think this was his Gold Cup," said his rider, Paddy Brennan, who brought the 16-1 shot with a smooth run from off the pace to outstay Our Vic by six lengths up the testing hill, "but the Grand National might be a different matter".

The last horse to use the Letheby And Christopher Chase, run over all bar a furlong of the Gold Cup course, as a successful springboard to the big one was Looks Like Trouble in 2000, but last year's winner, Exotic Dancer, went on to finish secondto Nicholls' Kauto Star.

Knowhere is likely to be given his chance for glory, however faint it might be, in March. "We've got to give it thought," said Twiston-Davies. "He was second to Exotic Dancer here last season and nothing was staying on stronger than him behind Denman in the Hennessy."

Yesterday's Grade Two contest, with a first prize of £57,020, was the sixth victory for owner Ray Mould's 10-year-old, and his biggest payday. "Aren't we lucky Haydock was off last week," added Twiston-Davies, back in down-to-earth mode. "If he'd run there he wouldn't have here, and this is more money."

The David Pipe-trained Our Vic was five lengths in front of the other 3-1 joint-favourite, Neptune Collonges, from the Nicholls yard. The jury is still out on the Gold Cup participation of both; the former has the shorter Ryanair Chase as an alternative and the latter may skip the Festival in favour of the flatter contours of Aintree or Punchestown.

There was compensation for both trainers yesterday. Nicholls ended a run of 26 consecutive losers here, stretching back to that black day in November when he lost two good horses, with a double courtesy of Arturio and Five Dream. Pipe secured the next-best purse of the afternoon, the £42,765 SkyBet Chase at Doncaster, with well-backed 11-2 favourite An Accordion.

The seven-year-old, ridden by apprentice Johnny Farrelly, responded well to first-time blinkers to beat Ungaro half a length, and has entered the Grand National lists alongside Knowhere at around 25-1.

One leading man who did turn up for his run-through here did so without fluffing a line. Inglis Drever, the reigning staying champion, put Blazing Bailey five lengths in his place in the Cleeve Hurdle and is likely to start the hottest favourite of the Festival in his bid for an unprecedented third World Hurdle.

Owner Graham Wylie's admirable nine-year-old is, it transpires, much better on land than water. "His work has been held up by the snow we've had," said his Co Durham-basedtrainer, Howard Johnson, "so we've had to swim him, but he's the worst swimmer we've got. All he can manage is four laps of the pool. Then he starts to sink."

In the two-mile division there will be no hiding place at Leopardstown today, where the evergreen Hardy Eustace will put some of Ireland's younger Champion Hurdle pretenders – notably Sizing Europe – to the test in the AIG Europe Champion Hurdle.

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
tech

Company says data is only collected under 'temporary' identities that are discarded every 15 minutes

Life and Style
health

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery NurseI am currently...

KS2 Teacher

£21000 - £34000 per annum + Excellent rates of pay, CPD, Support : Randstad Ed...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery nurse required for ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album