- Captain Teague cemented his position as one of Britain’s best novice hurdlers
- The Harry Cobden-ridden favourite fended off Lookaway by a length and a half
- Nicholls has won the Challow Hurdle with list of horses headed by great Denman
Captain Teague cemented his position as one of Britain’s best novice hurdlers when digging deep to give Paul Nicholls a fourth consecutive win and sixth success in total in Newbury’s Grade One Coral Challow Hurdle.
The Harry Cobden-ridden 2-1 favourite, who jumped more accurately than when beaten at Cheltenham last month, fended off Lookaway by a length and a half in a slow-motion finish in testing conditions, with Harry Redknapp-owned The Jukebox Man a further neck back in third.
Nicholls has won the Challow Hurdle with a classy list of horses headed by the great Denman and also including Bravemansgame, Hermes Allen and Stage Star.
But they all went on to thrive when sent steeplechasing and 14-time champion trainer clearly thinks Captain Teague is cut from the same cloth.
Captain Teague cemented his position as one of Britain’s best novice hurdlers with success in Newbury’s Grade One Coral Challow Hurdle
Ridden by Harry Cobden, the favourite for the race fended off Lookaway by a length and a half
Nicholls said: ‘If you go where Bravemansgame, Stage Star and Hermes Allen are, he’s in that sort of mix. They have all ended up being decent chasers and he will be one day.
‘He is a laid-back horse, almost too laid back. He hits the front and thinks he’s done enough. We have worked a lot on his jumping and he did jump better.
‘Soft ground is very important to him. If it was goodish ground at Cheltenham you’d want to go three miles but if it was testing two and a half miles is ideal.’
Captain Teague was the first British-trained horse to finish when third in last season’s Champion Festival Bumper and his main opposition at Cheltenham will again come from across the Irish Sea, with Willie Mullins-trained Ballyburn currently 4-1 favourite for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle after an effortless win on Friday.
Cobden’s win cut the lead of jump jockey championship leader Sean Bowen to 29 and he will hope to erode that advantage further while the pacesetter spends an anticipated two weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury sustained on Boxing Day.
Trainer Paul Nicholls said the horse will ‘one day’ be a ‘decent chaser’ but ‘is almost too laid back’ currently
The trainer added that soft ground ‘is very important’ to Captain Teague following his success
Bowen’s younger brother, James, had a disappointing run in the Challow on the highly-touted Willmount, who was pulled up, but he dominated the rest of the Newbury card with a 22.5-1 treble.
He deputised for the injured Nico de Boinville — out with a broken collarbone — on Nicky Henderson-trained Spring Note and had an armchair ride on stablemate Jeriko Du Reponet, who is 7-2 favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Jeriko Du Reponet has looked good so far but, again, opposition is stacking up in Ireland and it seems sensible to wait for the picture to unfold before pledging allegiance to one contender in this division.
James Bowen’s third win — Surrey Quest in the Mandarin Chase — gave Toby Lawes his biggest win since he started training in 2019. Lawes is a previous assistant trainer to Henderson and rode Altior every day on the gallops.