Notre Pere takes slow road to Welsh success

Dreaper's National victor is the slowest in the stable but has enough stamina to capture the principality's most valuable prize

Though flashing-bladed brilliance has its place, they also serve who only grind and plod. The qualities needed to win a King George VI Chase and a Welsh National are very different, as Jim Dreaper noted at Chepstow. Though delighted that his charge Notre Pere had become the first Irish-trained winner of the principality's richest contest, he was refreshingly realistic about the seven-year-old's current limitations.

"He's a good old-fashioned staying chaser," he said, "and he's honest. But he's not too quick. In fact, if there's anything behind him in a workout at home, they'll either be lame or dead."

Notre Pere gave a hint of his ruggedness in March when he finished third in the Irish Grand National on only his sixth run over fences, and saw out yesterday's three-mile five-furlong slog much less slowly than his rivals and with stamina to spare, taking the £57,000 prize by seven lengths with his ears pricked.

The 16-1 victory was the culmination of a plan hatched by Dreaper's son and assistant, Tom, and the gelding's rider, Andrew Lynch. "They told me back in September that this was the race for him," said the trainer drily, "and who am I not to do what I'm told?"

Notre Pere had warmed up for his task by taking a high-class handicap at Navan last month, and had only two above him in the weights yesterday. He travelled comfortably mid-field as Joe Lively and Sherwoods Folly blazed the trail, moved into contention at the head of the long straight, and though he had Lynch at the buckle end with a stretching leap at the third last of the 22 fences, it was only a momentary blip.

Two out, he tackled Officier de Reserve and Sherwoods Folly before drawing smoothly away. And the race, first run in 1895, perhaps owed Dreaper one. Seventeen years ago he saw Carvill's Hill, resident in his yard at Kilsallaghan, Co Dublin until a few months before, win for Martin Pipe after a transfer of ownership.

Plans for Notre Pere, winner of a novices' Grade One at Leopardstown a year ago today, are measured; despitebeing introduced into the Grand National betting at around 20-1, he is unlikely to try to emulate the likes of Corbiere and Silver Birch by following up at Aintree, at least not yet. "If I have my way he won't run next year," said Dreaper. "He'll only be eight, and though he's an out-and-out stayer he's really only at the start of the learning curve. Maybe if we're all around the following year we'll think about it."

But the French-bred, whose pink Conway family colours have been carried with distinction by decent horsessuch as Harcon and Jim, may yet be given a Cheltenham Gold Cup entry. "He's not quite good enough to take on the very best horses at levels," added Dreaper. "But there's always the chance that we could get extreme conditions at Cheltenham, in which case we might regret not putting him in it."

A mistake by Officier de Reserve at the last cost him second place; he was relegated to fourth in the final strides by another Paul Nicholls inmate, Cornish Sett, and the gallant AlanKing-trained top-weight, Halcon Genelardais, who both finished with a flourish from off the pace.

It was a mixed day for Nicholls; his 16 runners in Wales, England and Ireland yielded just two winners, the Ruby Walsh-ridden Herecomesthetruth and Michel Le Bon at Chepstow, and a few disappointments, notably Twist Magic, behind the German raider Fiepes Shuffle at Kempton, and Natal, well beaten by Big Zeb at Leopardstown. But the champion trainer reported Kauto Star in rude health after his third consecutive King George win. "He's 100 per cent," he said. "He ate up and was bright as a button this morning."

The Boxing Day hero will not be seen in public again until he tries to win back his Cheltenham Gold Cup crown from stablemate Denman in March. "I've now learned that he is definitely so much better when he is fresh," added Nicholls, "and you saw the real Kauto Star on Friday. After he won at Down Royal first time out it took a while to get him back, and I should not have run him at Haydock."

Walsh admitted that he, too, is still learning about Kauto Star. The horse made an error at the last in his latest King George, just as he had in his first.

"Two years ago I was going into it on the wrong stride and I sat back and said, 'Woah', and he paddled it, and it was almost a disaster," said the jockey."This time I just kept squeezing him into it and let him sort himself out, which he did, really cleverly."

The Irishman was seen at his best on the quirky Herecomesthetruth, changing the horse's mind with a pre-emptive slap before he had time to even think of being naughty. The bad news for Walsh's fellow jockeys is that one of his Christmas presents was a Nintendo brain-trainer.

Denman is on schedule to make his reappearance after recovering from an irregular heartbeat in Newbury's Aon Chase in early February. The third member of Nicholls's Gold Cuptriumvirate, Neptune Collonges, is favourite for today's Lexus Chase at Leopardstown.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
books
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
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

Systems Analyst (Technical, UML, UI)

£30000 - £40000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Senior Private Client Solicitor - Gloucestershire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - We are makin...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Support Developer

£50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A unique and rare opport...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn