Ronnie Cook Memorial Handicap Hunters’ Chase
Newton Abbot, 2m 5½f, Class 4, £3,431.45
1st LOUIS PASTEUR (Robbie Henderson) 14/1
2nd KING CYRUS 7/2
3rd WHIZZAAR 9/2
5 ran. Distances: 22l, 12l, 1l. Time: 5m 16.90
Louis Pasteur made it two from two at Newton Abbot after galloping his four rivals into the ground in the Handicap Hunters’ Chase.
The winner was sent off at the same price (14/1) for a Mens Open at Littlewindsor last month, where he finished 15 lengths second to Southwestern. He looked a different horse here however, racing with plenty of enthusiasm to make virtually all. He jumped boldly except for guessing a bit at the 11th and powered clear turning for home. Rider Robbie Henderson dropped his whip after taking the second last but it was not required as the son of Luso increased his advantage, finishing full of running to prevail by 22 lengths.
Newton Abbot’s unique end of season Handicap Hunters’ Chase has become a regular fixture in the calendar since it originated in 2000. Paul Nicholls previously had a 50% strike rate in this race, landing it with Irbee in 2003 (when the first prize was £12,470.00) and again in 2009 with Ofarel D’Airy. Three of his four former runners had carried the maximum weight to dump bone fide hunters out of the Handicap, and Gwanako did the same here.
The nine-year-old was lugging more weight than ever before and he looked a shadow of the horse we saw win twice at Sandown in the spring. He was never really travelling throughout the final mile and it will be interesting to see what connections (and the handicapper) do with him after this.