ENDA Bolger and owner JP McManus must never have thought they would find a horse to replace Spot Thedifference but Garde Champetre edged closer to surpassing his achievements at Cheltenham yesterday.
Spot Thedifference triumphed on seven occasions around the cross-country course and his successor is now up to five, with one extra Festival victory already.
The fog had only just lifted from Prestbury Park when the gelding played the lead role in raising the spirits of the crowd by getting the better of Sizing Australia in a barnstorming finish.
A weight of 11st 12lb made it a tall order for Garde Champetre in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase and he had to cope without Nina Carberry, who swapped for Heads Ontheground with JT McNamara.
McNamara gradually sneaked the 9-4 favourite into the competition and although there were five horses with chances at the final obstacle, Garde Champetre pulled out extra when push came to shove.
“He’s really after taking over from Spot now,” said Bolger.
“We were scared about that weight on his back and he was slipping into different shoes with JT on board.
“Nina had no problem stepping in with Heads and it gave JT the opportunity to ride instead of watching the race on TV (as he could not do the weight on Heads Ontheground).
“He’s an experienced horse and has won with his ears pricked.”
Bolger added that Carberry would be back on the winner at the Festival and he could also be represented by L’Ami, who has undergone wind surgery.
McManus added: “This is a horse who had lost his way but Enda just gives these horses a new lease of life. He has adapted so well to the course.”
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