French raider Foreman was cut to 10-1 by totesport for the Irish Independent Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival after landing the intercasino.co.uk Novices’ Chase at Lingfield.
The 2004 Irish Champion Hurdle winner was having just his third start over the larger obstacles but showed no signs of inexperience with a three-length victory under Tony McCoy.
Thierry Doumen’s eight-year-old ranged up besides Paul Nicholls’ Le Volfoni three from home and after leading over the final obstacle, kept on for a cosy success.
Marcel, a prolific winner over hurdles for Martin Pipe, finished a distant third.
Doumen said: “I couldn’t be happier. Although the ground was a bit too tacky for him he coped with it.
“I never had any doubts about him as he is as wide as he is tall, with a lot of pace.
“Tony rode him perfectly and he suits the horse’s style of power and good jumping.”
McCoy went on to complete a double when showing his mastery on Dom d’Orgeval in the Grade Two intercasino.co.uk Hurdle.
Dusky Warbler set the race up by trying to make all, but it was Fenix who took the lead two from home.
He was challenged by the winner, who had been under pressure for a long way, over the last as McCoy battled hard for a neck victory, with Turtle Soup five-lengths away in third.
McCoy said: “He is very tough and would have a chance in the totesport Trophy.”
Winning trainer Nick Williams added: “That is what I’d like him to go for on soft or heavy ground.”
Wain Mountain (7-2) won his first race for four years when taking the intercasino.co.uk Handicap with a sound display of jumping.
Jim Old’s 10-year-old revelled in the conditions and ran out a six-length winner under Jason Maguire from Be My Better Half.
Maguire was himself completing a double having scored on Trenance, who took the three-mile intercasino.co.uk Novices’ Chase when beating favourite Rosses Point by three lengths.
The 9-2 winner is trained by Tom George, whose wife Sophie said: “He’s just like his mother (Carmel’s Joy) and treats fences with the same disrespect.
“She won at four miles and collected the Lincolnshire National for us. We will keep him to three miles and see how many of those he can win.
“Jason let him do it his way and we have great hopes for the future.”
Foreman was the second of two winners for France, with Thierry’s father Francois getting the afternoon off to a winning start as Onnix scored on his first test over timber in the intercasino.co.uk Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle.
And the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham’s Festival meeting could now be on the agenda for the 5-4 winner.
The gelding took some time to get himself together for jockey Arnaud Duchene, but got within striking distance 150 yards out to deal with Heathcote and beat that rival by one and three-quarter lengths.
Doumen junior said: “He was a bit novicey and green, plus the fact that he lost a shoe during the race. But it was a good beginning and he did the job well in the end.
“It looks as if he can only get better in the future and his confidence will have had an excellent boost.”
Snakebite struck in the EBF/intercasino.co.uk “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle with a facile win for Mark Pitman and Paul Maloney, leading all the way to beat Inaro by six lengths, with Doc Row three parts away in third.
The grey gelding, sent off at 5-2, was never in any trouble and looks to be one to keep on the right side of.
Owner Malcolm Denmark said: “That has warmed us up.
“He has always been beaten by good horses in the past and we knew that he would come good. I suppose we would be looking to enter him for the three-mile hurdle at the Festival and it gives us something to look forward to now as that could be his proper trip.”