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
i100
News
Budapest, 1989. Sleepware and panties.
newsDavid Hlynsky's images of Soviet Union shop windows shine a light on our consumerist culture
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
News
In humans, the ability to regulate the expression of genes through thoughts alone could open up an entirely new avenue for medicine.
science
News
Williams says: 'The reason I got jobs was because they would blow the budget on the big guys - but they only had to pay me the price of a cup of tea'
arts + ents
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

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Associate - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL FIRM - A...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Law Costs - London City

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - EXCELLENT FIRM - We have an outstandin...

Austen Lloyd: In-House Solicitor / Company Secretary - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: IN-HOUSE - NATIONAL CHARITY - An exciting and...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee