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.

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

The Grange Retirement Home: Full Time Care Team Manager

£22,400: The Grange Retirement Home: This is a key role which requires a sound...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada