Vibrato Valtat confirmed his progression into a top-class contender in the two-mile chasing division with an impressive victory in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter this afternoon.
Paul Nicholls’ grey jumped the second-last in-line with market rivals Sire De Grugy and God’s Own, andshowed an excellent burst of acceleration approaching the final fence to ultimately put the race to bed.
A major blunder in which he pecked on landing wasn’t enough to stop him from taking the Grade 2 contest though, as he triumphed by four lengths from the staying-on outsider of the five Third Intention.
Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies, rider for four of his eight victories, said after the race:
“He has taken a good stride forward today and apart from the last he was very good”.
Cutting through the fog that had descended on the south-west and much of the rest of Britain, the six-year-old hinted that there is plenty more to come in the season ahead.
The reactions were instantaneous, Ladbrokes making the grey a 16/1 shot for March’s Queen Mother Champion Chase.
A crack at the Paddy Power Gold Cup could be on the cards later this month, for which he remains a 20/1 shot, but the Tingle Creek at Sandown – a race Nicholls has won nine times – looks a more likely option.
Meanwhile, market leader for the Champion Chase Un De Sceaux could see some of his potential rivals fall by the wayside on the back of the race in Exeter.
Tom George has always stated that God’s Own (33/1 for the Cheltenham contest) will step up in trip in the future, regardless of whether he secured back-to-back wins in the race.
The biggest disappointment came from 2014 Champion Chaser Sire De Grugy.
A terrible error early on shuffled him to the back of the pack, but under Jamie Moore, the chestnut was urged back into contention, and jumped the second-last virtually alongside the eventual winner.
However folding tamely thereafter Gary Moore’s gelding virtually walked over the line in last place, 28 lengths adrift from Dunraven Storm in fourth.
Ladbrokes subsequently pushed him out from 16/1 to 25/1 to regain his crown in March.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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