Bear still hunting elusive win

Zhukov won the first race at Fontwell yesterday
Zhukov won the first race at Fontwell yesterday
Share this article
Lil Rockerfeller won the National Spirit Hurdle in 2016 and will bid to regain his crown on Sunday

Old Guard tipped for National Spirit Hurdle crown

Have your say

Straw Bear is still hunting for his first success as a chaser.

The 10-year-old son of Diesis went off the 5/2 second favourite in the Weatherbys Bloodstock Insurance Private Bank Beginners’ Chase at Fontwell yesterday.

And after looking set for his maiden triumph in nine races over fences, Nick Gifford’s inmate failed to stay the two-mile six-furlong trip and was overhauled by market-leader Ostland in the straight.

Straw Bear finished 25 lengths adrift of the 13/8 favourite – and frustrated Findon trainer Gifford must be wondering whether he’ll ever land a chase contest.

Once rated 164 over hurdles, at his best he was a whopping 46lb better off than Ostland in that sphere.

But despite the best efforts of champion jockey Tony McCoy, the JP McManus-owned gelding once again looked a shadow of his former self over the larger obstacles.

McCoy shrugged off the defeat to land victory in the final race on the card – the Big Jim Bookmakers & bumper.

Trained by David Pipe, debutant Barney Cool justified his red-hot 4/7 favourite tag – despite being understandably green in places – to win by six lengths from Nicky Henderson’s Dark Shadow.

The Sillsport Group Novices’ Handicap Chase – the opening clash on yesterday’s seven-race card – was won by Zhukov at 11/2.

Lansdowne Princess won the Doug Bradmore Memorial Handicap Chase at 15/2 before Winning Show bagged his second victory at the track in the Bill Gibson 60th Birthday Chewbobbing Handicap Chase.

The 7/1-shot got up superbly to beat favourite Hardwick Wood by a neck under Pulborough jockey Leighton Aspell.

Cleaver carved his way through his rivals to win the Weatherbys Bank Maiden Hurdle at 4/1.

Fourth heading to the last, he stayed on to beat 33/1 outsider Midnight King by more than two lengths.

The penultimate race – the Chris Gordon Racing Club 07975 668 888 Handicap Hurdle – was won by emerging talent Harry Skelton on board Font.

Claimed out of a seller at Ludlow in February, the eight-year-old still retains some of the ability which saw him competitive off a mark of 128 a couple of years ago.