Womba strikes Ascot gold

Chomba Womba’s victory in the Coral Ascot Hurdle proved the highlight of a 15-1 treble for trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Barry Geraghty at the Berkshire venue.

Chomba Womba’s victory in the Coral Ascot Hurdle proved the highlight of a 15-1 treble for trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Barry Geraghty at the Berkshire venue.

The partnership is still in its early stages as Geraghty only joined the Seven Barrows team when stable stalwart Mick Fitzgerald retired over the summer.

However, the pair have wasted no time in cementing their relationship and Chomba Womba landed her second big prize of the season as she outgunned Crack Away Jack in the extended two-mile-three-furlong heat.

The pair, sent off 2-1 joint-favourites, were part of a three-way battle coming down to the second-last flight with Elusive Dream also in the mix, but Crack Away Jack made a costly blunder and crashed through the hurdle.

Jockey Jack Doyle managed to get his mount back racing on an even keel but Geraghty was in no mood to surrender the lead on Chomba Womba, who prevailed by a length.

Coral cut the mare to 3-1 from 5-1 for the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, a race in which she finished third last year.

The seven-year-old also attracted some Champion Hurdle quotes but Henderson is not talking in terms of that event as he also has current favourite and Haydock winner Binocular in his yard.

He said: “She’s tough and after what happened at Cheltenham last season, I think we’ll hang on to her as long as we can over a longer trip.

“She was meant to be at stud having babies but will have to have another go at that next year.

“That’s the project the owners have always envisaged for their mares.”

Trainer Emma Lavelle does not expect Crack Away Jack’s defeat to impair his Champion Hurdle preparation.

She added: “He missed the second-last and it stopped his momentum. If he’d flown it he’d have got there in front.

“It was only his sixth run ever and he was still a bit novicey, but he’s lost nothing in defeat.

“Back over two miles he can use his cruising speed to better effect.”

Henderson and Geraghty’s treble was sparked by course specialist Jack The Giant, who made the Carey Group Handicap Chase his fifth win from seven outings over fences.

The fast pace set by Lord Henry and Enlightenment played into the hands of the even-money favourite and after taking over from the former two from home, Jack The Giant pulled 11 lengths clear.

Henderson said: “He was going to run in the Paddy Power but the soft ground would have been against him.

“If you had to have a model from which to sculpt a racehorse, you would choose him.

“The Ryanair was the plan last year but we had to draw stumps.

“Today they went a good gallop and stamina came into play. For me this will have done him the power of good.”

My Petra rounded off the day for Henderson and Geraghty as she proved six lengths too strong for Oceanos Des Obeaux in the Amlin 1965 Chase.

“It’s been one of those days,” Henderson said.

“We did know there were a lot of chances and we’ve cashed in. There was a lot of good prize money about, and our horses were in good order.

“This mare was just a bit goofy early on because she’d run in a hurdle first time back and hadn’t done much schooling.

“I’m glad she was though as if she’d tried to wing one early, it might not have been the best thing. As it was she got better when the tempo quickened.”

Andy Turnell has a useful prospect in Cheating Chance (7-2), who landed the BAM Construct UK Novices’ Chase by six lengths from Psychomodo.

Turnell said: “I was throwing him in the deep end but I thought the track would suit him. He’ll have to go for the good novice chases now.”

Tora Bora (10-1) landed his first success in more than two years when taking the Barrett Steel Classic Handicap Hurdle for Brendan Powell while Henry Daly’s Toby Belch (7-2) outpointed Barnhill Brownie under Paddy Brennan in the Huggies Novices’ Hurdle.

Paul Nicholls was largely out of luck, but Red Harbour (4-1) gave the champion trainer some consolation when taking the Allied Irish Bank (GB) Standard Open NH Flat Race under Liam Heard.

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