Racing: Second Best to French raider.
FRENCH raider Jair Du Cochet lowered the colours of hot favourite Best Mate when beating the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner with ease in the Tote Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon yesterday.
Jacques Ricou always had Guillaume Macaire's sixyear-old up with the pace, which was only steady, before stretching clear in the straight to score by eight lengths, despite hitting the last fence hard, at 100-30.
Best Mate, the 8-13 favourite, was one and three-quarter lengths ahead of third-placed Valley Henry.
The market leader, winner of the race 12 months ago, did not jump with his usual fluency and the writing was on the wall after the third last as Jair Du Cochet began to apply the pressure.
Jair Du Cochet clearly relished the soft ground and is now on course for a rematch with Best Mate in the Pertemps King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
'The King George is next,' said Macaire.
Best Mate's jockey Jim Culloty blamed the rainsoftened ground for the defeat of Henrietta Knight's champion.
'It was like when he got absolutely stuffed by Barton over hurdles at Aintree,' Culloty told Channel 4 attheraces.
'When the ground is wet and sloppy like that he cannot get his footing. He cannot gallop in it, never mind jump in it.
'He jumped OK. The French horse kept jumping out to his left and coming back in, so we had to get round him but to be honest I didn't have the horse to get round him anyway.
'He ran a sound race on ground he can't go on and the winner obviously loved it. Turning in the winner just quickened away. He coped with it and I didn't.' 'But Jair Du Cochet is a very good horse.'
Best Mate is the 6-4 favourite to emulate the great Arkle by winning three consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups in March while yesterday's winner is a 10-1 chance for chasing's blue riband event.
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|Publication:||Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)|
|Date:||Nov 23, 2003|
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