Honeyball hails Southern National champion
Fontwell Park king Anthony Honeyball saluted gritty mare Cresswell Breeze after her victory in the totepool Southern National Handicap Chase.
The seven-year-old daughter of Midnight Legend produced a stellar round of jumping to clinch the track’s Â£12,660 feature on Sunday.
Sent off 7/1 for the contest, the mare and jockey Sean Bowen found a brilliant rhythm around Fontwell’s figure of eight circuit.
The Welsh rider had Cresswell Breeze, rated 130, sat just off the pace before taking the initiative up the home straight.
The duo battled gamely to fend off the challenge of the David Dennis-trained Cylop and deliver a three-and-a-half length success. David Pipe’s Rathlin Rose was third.
Honeyball, who was completing a double on the card after Jukebox Jive’s fine victory in the juvenile hurdle, lauded Cresswell Breeze’s display.
The Dorset handler believes the drop in class was the reason why his charge clinched her first victory in exactly two years.
‘It’s the first time she’s run in a race where she’s been able to jump, travel, fill up and relax,’ said the Mosterton-based Honeyball.
‘A lot of the races she has run in previously, she has been in top gear all of the way and it’s been very tough for her.
‘We’ve aimed her quite high a few times but this race was just run at a nice tempo and that key for her.
‘Sean got her into a lovely rhythm and had enough horse under him if he was in a bit of a tricky spot to get out of it.
‘It would have been perfect ground for her. Maybe in these better races she’s run in she accepts her positions and knows she has to keep running.
‘She’s always been a superb jumper and ran here on chase debut. All of her experience paid off and she’s been a fantastic mare.’
The victory was Honeyball’s 31st winner at Fontwell since he began training in 2006 and his fourth at the course in nine days.
A hike in the handicap in now inevitable for Cresswell Breeze after her victory in the Southern National.
But Honeyball expects his charge to come on from her seasonal debut, with the London National at Sandown on December 9 and Sussex National at Plumpton on January 2 among her options.
‘We’ve got the London National coming up at Sandown. There’s loads of jumping to do in that race.
‘There’s also the Sussex National at Plumpton. If she can run like she did at Fontwell first time out, you could leave her for a race like that.’