Tragedy at Newbury as Twist Magic loses life

Tom George and Paul Nicholls had a complete turnaround in fortunes than when in opposition at Newbury's previous fixture as Nicholls' Twist Magic lost his life in a dramatic Peterborough Chase won by the George-trained Tartak today.

Tom George and Paul Nicholls had a complete turnaround in fortunes than when in opposition at Newbury's previous fixture as Nicholls' Twist Magic lost his life in a dramatic Peterborough Chase won by the George-trained Tartak today.

Last month's Hennessy meeting saw perhaps George's most exciting prospect ever Tell Massini suffer a fatal fall in a novice chase left to Nicholls' Aiteen Thirtythree.

Although Twist Magic will not leave such a void, the champion trainer's stable will be emptier without a horse who earned a pair of Tingle Creek victories among five Grade Ones.

Twist Magic (9-4 favourite) was having his first try at two and a half miles on a rare visit to a left-handed track - the race had been switched due to Huntingdon's abandonment - and was leading when coming down at the second-last fence.

This left his stablemate Breedsbreeze in front but he could not put his stamp on proceedings and Tartak (11-4), who was second to Deep Purple a year ago and had always been to the fore here, was allowed another chance and struck for the first time outside the novice category by half a length. Deep Purple himself was brought down at the second-last.

"We've had a bit of luck, but we probably deserved some after what happened here last time," reflected George after the totesport.com-sponsored contest.

"It's swings and roundabouts. This horse deserved a big one. He has been a bit ring-rusty at this time of year before but is sharper now.

"I think he'll get three miles at Aintree and the meeting in April will be his big target, but we will think about the Ryanair at Cheltenham."

Nicholls said: "Not a good day. He has fractured a pastern and we've lost him. He's been a great horse and it's always sad when it happens.

"He was still on the bridle when he came down. The other horse (Breedsbreeze) has pulled himself up in front."

The spate of cancellations has left trainers itching for opportunities and Nicky Henderson has so many ready to go he was forced to run three in the First Great Western Maiden Hurdle.

Minella Class (4-1) had a fair bit of experience in Ireland and on his first outing since March, steamed three and a half lengths clear for Barry Geraghty.

"He has done what we hoped, but like a lot of Newbury maidens, the form can be confusing and you don't know what he beat," said Henderson.

"He's very good at home but looked quite babyish out there. I'd like him to go and do that again somewhere first."

Colin Tizzard has been in unknown territory this season with the top-drawer Cue Card and he had another new experience in the Blackmore Building Juvenile Hurdle.

Tizzard, best known for his chasers, believes Third Intention (16-1) is his first three-year-old hurdler, and he got off to the best possible start for the Dorset operation by fighting off Titan De Sarti by two and three-quarter lengths.

"I bought him in the summer and thought quite a lot of him, but I'm very surprised by that," said Tizzard.

"He's the first horse I have bought off the Flat ready to run, our first juvenile ever, and I thought he'd come on for it. That was a lovely performance."

Coral offer 20-1 and totesport 25s for the Triumph Hurdle.

Major Malarkey (12-1) has only recently found his feet over fences but looked a future stayer after a gutsy effort in the Blue Square Donate £5k to Racing Welfare Novices' Chase.

"He did that nicely and maybe one day we might be thinking Nationals," considered trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.

"He should get a bit further and we could think about the four-miler at the Festival."

Similar comments apply to West End Rocker (12-1), who initiated a treble on the afternoon for Alan King with a doughty staying performance after a year on the sidelines in the Coolmation Handicap Chase.

"He did a leg after his run at Kempton, and he just might get an entry at Aintree for the National," said King.

Pride In Battle (15-2) was then always doing enough to thwart the Henderson hotpot Cucumber Run in the EBF "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle.

King, who also managed a two-year-old winner at Lingfield, added: "He was the best of my bumper horses and ran well at Chepstow, but stepping up to two and a half miles has helped. There's more to come I think."

Barbury Castle-based King rounded off proceedings when Who's Afraid (10-1) made an agreeable debut in the EBF Kentford Racing fillies' bumper.

Rimini (6-1 favourite) may soon be in the grip of the assessor but scrambled home in the Powersolve Electronics Greatwood Charity Handicap Chase to make it three wins from his last four starts.

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