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.

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick