Un Temps Pour Tout finally got his act together over fences at Cheltenham this afternoon and produced a commanding performance to land the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase by seven lengths.
The 11/1 shot was always travelling well under jockey Tom Scudamore and the writing was on the wall a long way from home as both the winner and eventual runner-up, Holywell, were tanking while the rest of the field laboured. Holywell briefly threatened as the pair turned for home but the David Pipe-trained gelding always had more in the locker and stayed on strongly up the hill to land a famous success.
The winner was very decent over hurdles and had won the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil last July. However, things hadn't gone his way over fences until this afternoon which left his trainer pondering why it had taken so long for the penny to drop.
"That was quite a finish," said Pipe. "I thought we were losing the battle a bit with Holywell at one stage. Tom's given him a great ride. We had a long discussion with the owners as to which race we would go for - we had been hoping to go for the RSA Chase at one point.
"Things hadn't quite panned out for him earlier on in the season. First time out, he wasn't fit enough. Second time out, maybe he was outstayed but that's hard to say on today's performance. Last time out, he was carrying top weight in bottomless conditions and maybe he shouldn't have run but that's helped us today. A Festival winner is great for any yard and that's the same for the big yards. We weren't expecting one so this gives us a lot of pleasure. He's still in the World Hurdle but that was only in case something happened today. We've come here with a nice team of horses but, as I said to my mother, it's smaller but more select than recent years. I had thought Doctor Harper was my biggest hope in the Kim Muir so hopefully he'll run a big race as well."
Part owner Bryan Drew was also flooded with emotion after the race.
"I can barely talk," he said. "This horse has been a diamond since the first day we owned him. I'm so delighted - I can't tell you how much. Caroline (Tisdall, co-owner) is a dream partner and we've had a lot of fun with him. Today is a dream come true."
Tisdall was also delighted with the victory. "As you know, there's nothing like Cheltenham. This was some wonderful race placing by the trainer and a fantastic ride by the jockey. We are in heaven!"
SCUDAMORE HAS PLENTY OF TIME AS TEMPS POUR TOUT LANDS BIG PRIZE
A horse who cost £450,000 when offered at public auction by Doncaster Bloodstock Sales at Newbury, proved that was money well spent when landing another big prize.
Victory for Un Temps Pour Tout in the £100,000 Ultima Handicap Chase followed up his win last summer in the French Champion Hurdle for owners Bryan Drew and Professor Caroline Tisdall. The 11/1 winner, who is still only a seven-year-old, is trained by David Pipe and was ridden by Tom Scudamore.
After defeating runner-up Holywell by seven lengths - the pair had it between them in the"home straight - Scudamore said: "The owners have shown us an awful lot of support so it was lovely to win [the Champion Bumper] on Moon Racer for them last year, and to land this race today. They are big players in the sport and it's great that we have been able to reward their support. "They paid a lot of money for this horse, but he has been brilliantly trained by David and now he has won a French Champion Hurdle and a race at The Festival. You cannot buy that, and it is testament to David's training skills.
"There were a few fallers in behind, but all I was conscious of was getting him settled over the first few fences and then to ride a race on the final circuit. I was aware that Holywell was well handicapped and you always have your markers, so I was thinking if I'm not far behind him I won't be far away at the finish. My horse found a bit more up the hill.
"He was rated 162 over hurdles and he was 148 today over fences - the way he felt today he could take his chase mark up [to 162], but he is going to have to now."
Jockey Richie McLernon expressed his delight with the way runner-up Holywell had run, he said: "He ran so well. He loves it here and jumped really well and traveled great and I just tried to keep out of trouble. He couldn't go with the winner at the end, but I'm very happy with the way he ran."
All horses and jockeys who fell or unseated during the race were reported to have walked away none the worse.
1) Un Temps Pour Tout (Professor Caroline Tisdall & Bryan Drew) David Pipe 7-11-07 Tom Scudamore 11/1 2) Holywell (Gay Smith) Jonjo O'Neill 9-11-12 Richie McLernon 8/1 3) The Young Master (Dajam & The Old Masters) Neil Mulholland 7-11-05 Mr Sam Waley Cohen (3) 14/1 4) Morning Assembly (Clipper Logistics Group Ltd) Pat Fahy IRE 9-11-09 Davy Russell 10/1
13/2 Fav Out Sam (7th)
Distances: 7, 9, 1
14th win at The Festival for trainer David Pipe 8th win at The Festivsal for jockey Tom Scudamore
HOLYWELL KEEPS UP GOOD CHELTENHAM RECORD
Holywell, who won the Ultima Handicap Chase in 2014 and the Pertemps Final in 2013, finished second to Un Temps Pour Tout by seven lengths under Richie McLernon.
His trainer Jonjo O'Neill said: "I'm delighted with him. He loves this place, and this time of year, and he and Richie get on really well. He did everything great, and just met one too good, unfortunately. He just comes right at this time of the year. The ground is a big plus to him as well. Please God, if he comes home safe and sound, Aintree [the Crabbie's Grand National] here we come."
The Neil Mulholland-trained The Young Master finished a further nine lengths back in third under amateur rider Sam Waley-Cohen.
Mulholland said: "He ran very well and galloped up the hill well. We'll be looking at Nationals and stuff like that next year, but just thought we were a year too early. It was a good run by Sam and the horse - they've got to know each other well."
The Festival Handicap Chase was sponsored for a number of years by the bookmaker William Hill and many racegoers will still refer to it as the " William Hill". It is a handicap chase over an extended 3 miles and is contested by staying chasers short of Gold Cup class.
Druids Nephew won in 2015 and was the highest rated winner of the decade reflecting a general trend towards higher class horses winning the Festival handicaps.
Druids Nephew had finished 2nd at the course at the November meeting. The 2014 winner Holywell also had a previous course win in the 2013 Pertemps.
8 of the last 18 winners had been at least placed at the Festival before.
Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase Trends
The now retired Choc Thornton has ridden 3 of the last 11 winners
2 of Chocs wins were on Alan King trained horses
Jonjo O'Neill has trained 3 winners since 2009
Paul Nicholls has yet to train the winner
JP McManus has owned 3 of the last 12 winners
9 of the last 11 winners had a prep run between 18 and 63 days beforehand
Winners have been officially rated between 128 and 146
6 of the last 8 winners were rated 142- 146
7 year olds have won 3/11 and performed notably well in 2014 filling 5 of the first 6 places
4 of last 12 winners were novices
The Druids Nephew , Bensalem and Holywell are the only winners to have carried more than 10-12 to victory in the last decade
Note though that all 3 won since 2011
The quality of field have been increasing.13 of the field in 2014 and 14 in 2014 were rated 140 or above.
Odds trend: A mixed bag - 3/10 were 28-1 or more while 5/10 were 8-1 or less
Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase Winners 2006-2015
2015 Festival Handicap Chase Entries
The 2015 Field was rated 133-155.
The 2014 field was officially rated between 129 and 151.
in 2013 the ratings range was 132-153, 2012: 121-155, 2011: 116-153
BACKGROUND INFORMATION The Chase was sponsored between 1981 and 1996 by the Ritz Club. Astec Buzz Shop backed the race in 1997, with William Hill the sponsor from 1998 to 2010. Leading owner Andy Stewart and his family backed the race in 2011 in support of Spinal Research. JLT (Jardine Lloyd Thompson) took over the sponsorship in 2012.
FIELD SIZE The smallest field was seven in 1993, while the highest number of runners was 24 in both 1963 and 2010. The current safety limit is 24.
WEIGHTS Future Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Silver Fame carried the welter burden of 12st 7lb to victory in 1950, while Tipping Tim (1992), Maamur (1996) and Alfie Sherrin (2012) have all been successful off 10st.
MULTIPLE WINNERS Only two horses have won the race twice - Sentina in 1957 and 1958, and Scot Lane in 1982 and 1983.
MOST SUCCESSFUL TRAINERS
Fred Rimell (Cavaliero (1948), Frere Jacques II (1949), Land Fort (1951) and Holly Bank (1954)) and Fulke Walwyn (Ravencroft (1961), Team Spirit (1963), Lord Jim (1971), Gay Vulgan (1977)) both recorded four wins in the JLT Specialty Chase. Jonjo O'Neill (Wichita Lineman (2009) and Alfie Sherrin (2012)) Holywell ( 2014) is the most successful current trainers with three wins.
MOST SUCCESSFUL JOCKEY Robert Thornton is the most successful jockey with three wins to his name - Fork Lightning (2004), Kelami (2005) and Bensalem (2011).
OVERSEAS-TRAINED WINNERS Irish-trained horses have prevailed on seven occasions - Dunshaughlin (1946), Royal Tan (1952), Sentina (1957 & 1958), Arkloin (1966), Youlneverwalkalone (2003) and Dun Doire (2006). Kelami, successful in 2005, is the only French-trained winner.
BETTING The shortest-priced winner was Silver Fame in 1950 at 5/4. The longest-priced scorer was Joes Edge, who belied odds of 50/1 to win in 2007.
DID YOU KNOW? Five horses have used the Handicap Chase as a stepping stone to the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup: Silver Fame (1950) Gold Cup 1951 Four Ten (1953) Gold Cup 1954 Limber Hill (1955) Gold Cup 1956 Kerstin (1956) Gold Cup 1958 Charter Party (1986) Gold Cup 1988
Four subsequent John Smith's National winners have captured the Handicap Chase: Royal Tan (1952) Grand National 1954 West Tip (1985) Grand National 1986 Seagram (1991) Grand National 1991 Rough Quest (1995) Grand National 1996
The Chase has been won by a pair of owners with showbusiness connections. Hollywood idol Gregory Peck owned the 1967 scorer Different Class, while Hot Chocolate lead singer Errol Brown saw his colours carried to victory by Gainsey in 1987.