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Winners Irving is still like Concorde – Nicholls

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: December 20, 2013

By Tom Peacock

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Nick Scholfield's jet-propelled mount Irving extended his unbeaten record in Britain to three in the Grade Two Mitie Kennel Gate Novices' Hurdle at Ascot.

"When Nick first sat on him, he said 'he's like Concorde' and when he got off him today he said 'he's still Concorde'," said trainer Paul Nicholls of his German Flat arrival.

Ultimately, the 11-4 chance's margin of six lengths was greatly enhanced by the final-flight fall of Prince Siegfried, who was alongside Irving before sending jockey Denis O'Regan spinning to the ground.

The winner, though, had looked pacey at both Taunton and over this course and distance a month ago, and seemed to be getting Prince Siegfried's measure at the time.

"He's a really decent horse, he has got a devastating turn of foot and the faster they go, the better it suits him," said Nicholls.

"He was four from six on the Flat and now three from three over hurdles so he has obviously got a heap of ability.

"His ultimate aim is the Supreme, but I might look at the Tolworth Hurdle (January 4, Sandown) as it's a Grade One and I can put him away for Cheltenham then."

Stan James make Irving their 12-1 co-favourite from 16s for the Festival curtain-raiser.

Also in action on the opening day of Cheltenham in March could be Fox Appeal, who steamrollered his three opponents in the Betfred Novices' Chase.

The two-miles-three-furlong heat was hardly a strong one by Grade Two standards but 5-4 favourite Fox Appeal was not off the bridle in beating 2011 Ladbroke winner Raya Star by 10 lengths. Emma Lavelle's gelding was a staying hurdler by trade, and was beaten by Nicholls novices Wonderful Charm and Black Thunder in two previous chasing outings.

"Aidan (Coleman) got off and said you've got to think of him as an Arkle horse," said Lavelle. "That's a stiff two miles, and My Way De Solzen dropped down to win an Arkle a few years ago.

"I'd say he'll have one more run first. I thought that was really impressive, so its very exciting."

Alan King had wanted to step Raya Star up in distance, but said afterwards: "A stiff two miles in the Grand Annual might just suit him now."

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