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Gabiorot wraps up United Hunts Cup at damp Cheltenham Hunters' Evening

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A damp Friday evening did nothing to dispel the thrill of riding round Cheltenham for riders of the 59 runners during the 7 race Hunters' Evening, one of just two hunter chase only cards in the British calendar nowadays. 

David Kemp and Dale Peters make a good partnership to follow at this annual fixture, so punters latched on to Law of Gold in the 4 miler for the United Hunts Challenge Cup. Winner of this race in 2023, he has been campaigned entirely between the flags this season to date, with a brace of victories at High Easter. However, his effort ceased after the fourth last, although he's likely to reappear in the Pertemps Network Stratford Foxhunter at the end of the month, where a sounder surface will suit better.

Meantime, the business end of the race saw Gabiorot, trained by Henry Oliver and Josh Guerriero for a Haydock Park Jockey Club partnership, correct the unseat in last month's Randox Foxhunter at Liverpool, by winning this marathon under Harry Myddleton by 3 1/4l from Master Templar from the Ellis yard. 

The United Hunts was once a most prestigious race, and whilst it retains popularity among the amateur division, its importance is much diminished nowadays. 

Jumping ability is crucial at Cheltenham where the fences are less forgiving than your average Point-to-Point, so it comes as no surprise that the same set of winners continue to figure year on year. Where Kemp and Dale had failed in the four miler, they didn't go home empty-handed, when Rebel Dawn Rising  stayed on to be just a length too good for Cat Tiger under David Maxwell in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Chase over 2m4f. He may well join Law of Gold at Stratford.

The Ellis name is rarely without a winner at this fixture, and they maintained their impressive record in the 3m2f Midlands Air Ambulance Mixed open Hunters Chase, where 2023 Foxhunter winner Premier Magic had to give way to the Ellis-trained Fairly Famous, ridden by Gina Andrews. At 11, Premier Magic's best days may perhaps be behind him, but that hadn't stopped punters sending off Deise Aba, another 11 year old, as 3/1 favourite. Although prominent for a long while, when pressure was applied four out, the ground appeared to find him out. 

The Ellis team had to give second best to Iskander Pecos in the Intermediate Chase over the same distance. Ridden by Huw Edwards, enjoying an excellent season, and trained by Hannah Roach, Iskander Pecos has done little wrong this Spring, with hunter chase victories at Ludlow, Leicester and a half length second to Spyglass Hill in the Walrus Hunters at Haydock in mid-February. He's most definitely on the upgrade, and hopefully to be seen in open company next winter.

It was a day of seconds for Bradley Gibbs, and the tone of the evening was set in the opener, when Fier Jaguen was edged out of it by A Jet Of Our Own, trained by Nicky Sheppard for the Philipson-Stows and ridden by son Frederick. Nicky is another from the West Mercian circuit enjoying a terrific season, and this was a neat staying performance from the seven year old, even over the minimum trip.

Nicky was back in the Winner's Enclosure an hour later, albeit a distant 11l second to winner What A Glance, who has bit the bar on three separate occasions this Spring. Second at Didmarton, then second again both at Lockinge and Stratford to Deise Aba, this was an overdue moment to get his head in front. Murray Dodd was in the plate for the 3m1f junior Jumpers Hunters Chase.

Winner Will Biddick may disagree, but it's difficult to make the case for the continued inclusion of a mares hunters races on this card after Regatta de Blanc finished a distance clear of her only surviving rival in a 4 runner field. This race has never had more than 7 runners in the past 5 years, and the mares could readily be accommodated within several other races on the card. As competitive racing goes, this left much to be desired. 



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