Channon joyful with Somersby ‘in great heart’

Somersby, seen ridden by Dominic Elsworth, could be pointed at The Tingle Creek or Peterborough Chase.
Somersby, seen ridden by Dominic Elsworth, could be pointed at The Tingle Creek or Peterborough Chase.
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The Tingle Creek at Sandown and the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon are under consideration for the ever-popular Somersby following his fine effort behind Sprinter Sacre at Cheltenham on Sunday.

It is over two years since the admirable 11-year-old last tasted victory, in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter.

But he has run some excellent races in defeat since, most notably filling the runner-up spot in last season’s Queen Mother Champion Chase under in-form North Yorkshire jockey Brian Hughes, who is now the veteran chaser’s regular rider.

Somersby was no match for a resurgent Sprinter Sacre in the Shloer Chase, but trainer Mick Channon – the former footballer – is in no doubt that his inmate retains plenty of ability and enthusiasm.

He said: “I’m delighted with the old boy as he’s in very good form and in great heart. There’s not a lot you can say when you bump into Sprinter Sacre in that sort of form and we’ll have a think about where we go now.

“That race on Sunday was his race, really. A year ago Sprinter Sacre wouldn’t have been running, but what can you do? We’ll look at the Tingle Creek (December 5) and there’s the Peterborough Chase the following day, as well. I think he might get a bit further now he’s getting older. He’s come out of the race on Sunday really well – he’s a happy horse.”

Dual winner Silviniaco Conti heads a small but select field of five for tomorrow’s Betfair Chase at Haydock.

Successful in 2012 and 2014, the Paul Nicholls-trained nine-year-old warmed up for another crack at this prestigious race with an encouraging prep run over hurdles at Kempton.

Cue Card, who had Silviniaco Conti back in third place when landing this prize in 2013, renews rivalry.

Colin Tizzard’s inmate, only fourth when defending his crown 12 months ago, returned to form with a convincing victory over Dynaste in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on his reappearance.

The David Pipe-trained Dynaste, placed in this race for the last two years, stands his ground as he looks to make it third-time lucky.

Tom Scudamore’s mount will be joined by stablemate Ballynagour, who was third in the Charlie Hall. Completing the quintet is the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Holywell.

Connections of Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree say “things are looking a lot rosier” in the champion’s race against time to be fit for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday week.

Meanwhile 2013 Gold Cup runner-up Sir des Champs made a winning comeback at Thurles yesterday after nearly two years off the racetrack.