Warwick triumph sets Fixe Le Kap up for Festival

Fixe Le Kap (Daryl Jacob) jumps the last on his way to victory in the opener. Picture: dwprattracingphotography.co.uk

Fixe Le Kap (Daryl Jacob) jumps the last on his way to victory in the opener. Picture: dwprattracingphotography.co.uk

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Owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede added another ace to their pack of Cheltenham Festival challengers after Fixe Le Kap made short work of his rivals at Warwick last Thursday, writes David Hucker.

After showing promise in three outings at Auteuil in France, Fixe Le Kap made a winning British debut for trainer Nicky Henderson at Newbury and he was sent off a red-hot favourite to follow up in the opening Lighthorne Lamb Juvenile Hurdle.

Conceding weight to his seven rivals, he easily saw off newcomer Three Colours Red to win by 28 lengths.

The winning owners are looking forward to a tilt at the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Festival, for which Fixe Le Cap is now second favourite, and could be doubled-handed with another course winner Sceau Royal, who has gone on to post two more victories since his Warwick success in November.

Next up was the D W Clark Drainage Handicap Chase over three miles and a furlong and it was bottom-weight As De Fer who triumphed for Dorset trainer Anthony Honeyball.

Course winner Paddy The Oscar again set out to make all the running, but he blundered badly at the 14th, allowing As De Fer to go to the front. Despite hitting the second-last fence, As De Fer came home the easiest of winners from favourite Willoughby Hedge.

Feature race on the card was the third, the £10,000 Bigcasinobonuses.co.uk Handicap Hurdle over a trip of three-and-a-quarter miles, which had attracted a strong entry, with the weights headed by Herbert Park and The Boss’s Dream.

Wroughton trainer Neil King is having a good season with 23 winners coming into the meeting, but The Boss’s Dream had been his only scorer in January when all out to win a novices’ hurdle at Southwell. Taking the lead at the eighth flight, The Boss’s Dream ran on strongly to deny the challenge of market leader Tambura and double King’s tally for the month.

There were some promising horses in the British Stallion Studs EBF Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle, with Surtee Du Berlais, twice a winner before running well to be third in a Listed race at Taunton, setting the standard.

But the she could only fill second place behind Savingforvegas who, despite jumping to the left at the final flight, made full use of her 12lb advantage to score narrowly.

Mendip Express was bought out of Harry Fry’s stable for £75,000 and he was to recoup a small part of that when taking the Sandra Lloyd Memorial Willoughby De Broke Open Hunters’ Chase for his new trainer Philip Hobbs.

Hobbs is currently lying second in the championship table and he strengthened his position when notching a double on the afternoon with 4-1 shot Shambougg, who landed the concluding Deli Cafe Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race.