Medinas reigns supreme for Alan King

Wayne Hutchinson springs surprise at Ffos Las as trainer's favoured Balder Succes trails in eighth

Rugby has its six nations this weekend, racing just the five. Yesterday's most valuable race over hurdles took place in Carmarthenshire and was won by a horse foaled in France, trained by a Scot and ridden by an Englishman. The afternoon's chief contest over fences was run in Surrey and went to another French-bred, this time trained by an Englishman and ridden by an Irishman. And today Scotland and Ireland are the venues as Musselburgh and Punchestown take their turn in providing pointers for next month's Cheltenham Festival.

That Medinas took the Welsh Champion Hurdle (rather grandiosely named now that it has been reinvented as a handicap) was something of a surprise to the winning trainer, Alan King, given the six-year-old was the one of his two runners he regarded as his second string. But the contest nearly provided a greater shock to punters; it was only in the last few strides that the winner, whose chance seemed gone after a mistake at the penultimate obstacle, reeled in the 25-1 outsider Peckhamecho.

Both King and his No 1 jockey, Robert Thornton, preferred the chances of Balder Succes in the two-and-a-half-miler, leaving Wayne Hutchinson – who spent his youth wanting to play football for his beloved Swindon Town – to score as his stablemate trailed in only eighth. The betting first choice, the 7-2 favourite Oscara Dara, beat only one home.

Hutchinson waited until after the last flight to ask Medinas, who now has the Coral Cup as his Cheltenham target, for maximum effort, with his mount's gallant response and reserves of stamina getting him home by a length and a quarter.

"Once I got after him he kept finding more," said the rider, "and he's stuck it out well in tough conditions. He'd had a bit of a break before today and it felt like he's come back an improved horse."

Tough and determined though Medinas is, his performance at the Welsh track paled into insignificance beside that of the ever-popular Carruthers, who put up a tremendous trailblazing effort in the marathon West Wales National. The 10-year-old, the star of Mark Bradstock's small stable, was joined in the lead for much of the three-and-a-half-mile slog on energy-sapping ground by Shaking Hands, but his relentless gallop proved too much for that rival with four fences still to go.

He was left clear in the final straight, but though he had to regroup as Cannington Brook came to challenge after the last, he did so to such effect that he was going away again at the line. "When he heard the other horse he went on again," said his amateur rider, Nico de Boinville. "He loves it and he's a pleasure to ride. He's a horse with real heart."

De Boinville's day job is working at top trainer Nicky Henderson's yard, where he exercises the superstar two-mile chaser Sprinter Sacre every morning. Captain Conan may not operate at the same level of his stablemate, but he is still a very good athlete in his own right, and yesterday at Sandown took the day's Grade One feature, the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase. His neck success, though, was perhaps too close for those who made him 1-2 favourite, as he caught Third Intention only in the shadow of the winning post and might not have done so had his rival not idled inattentively in front.

In Captain Conan's mitigation, he had not raced since early December and so was entitled to be ring-rusty. He jumped very well for Barry Geraghty, and on his first try at two-and-a half miles proved he stayed the distance of his Festival target, the Jewson Chase. "He's a big, gross horse who takes some getting fit," said Henderson, "and he just got a bit tired."

The celebrity quality today comes courtesy of another of the season's exciting novice chasers, Overturn, who has his Arkle Trophy preparation at Musselburgh, and of the former two-mile king Sizing Europe, who warms up at Punchestown for his possible Champion Chase tilt at Sprinter Sacre.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory