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?
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

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage