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Saint Calvados delivers impressive Oaksey success

Saint Calvados produced a dominant front-running display to claim top honours in the bet365 Oaksey Chase at Sandown.

A field of just four runners went to post for the Grade Two contest, with King George third Saint Calvados the even-money favourite to register his first victory since joining Paul Nicholls.

There was drama at the start, with last year’s runner-up Mister Fisher shying away when the tapes went up, which allowed Saint Calvados to establish an early buffer over his three rivals.

Having worked his way back into contention, Mister Fisher closed up to within a couple of lengths jumping the Pond Fence, but Harry Cobden had kept something up his sleeve aboard the market leader, who soon asserted once more.

The nine-year-old sealed his victory with a typically bold leap at the final obstacle and passed the post with 16 lengths in hand.

Cobden and Nicholls were completing a quick-fire double following the earlier success of Knappers Hill in the opener.

“That was a nice win. He deserved to win a race like that. Contrary to what it looks like – that he doesn’t stay – I actually do think he stays,” said Nicholls.

“We haven’t had him really right and we are learning about him all the time. I actually think we can get him fitter next year if we don’t have the problems we have had.

Saint Calvados in full flight
Saint Calvados in full flight (Nigel French/PA)

“I’m convinced he wants three (miles). He galloped all the way to the line there today. Harry got off him the last day at Aintree and said ‘next time I’m going to make the running’. He got too far behind and all his did was gallop, that’s why we bowled along in front today.

“He likes these small fields and better ground. He doesn’t want soft ground – that’s no good for him. When he ran at Ascot, that was a big waste of time. That was perfect today.

“He will definitely go back to the King George again as he ran so well in it this year, but hopefully, we can know him a bit more and get him a bit better and ride him differently.

“The Charlie Hall, something like that, if it was fast ground, would suit him very well.”

Of Mister Fisher, Henderson said: “It was very uncharacteristic – he would not jib at anything.

“We haven’t seen Saint Calvados making the running for a long time and the one day he’s making the running, we go and give him 15 lengths at the gate. It was very out of character.

“Peterborough Chases are his sort of level. He is a Grade Two horse. There are lots of races for him and the Peterborough and those sort of things are really up his street.

“He has had a busy end to the season and Nico (de Boinville) said he was a bit tired.”

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