By Simon Jackson.
The Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on January 24 has been mooted as the likely target for Reve De Sivola after his third successive victory in the JLT Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.
The nine-year-old looked destined to finish second on Saturday after jumping the last two lengths adrift of Zarkandar, who appeared to have the race at his mercy entering the final furlong.
Yet the Nick Williams-trained Reve De Sivola and jockey Daryl Jacob stuck to their task well and reeled in the short-priced favourite to score by a head at odds of 13-2.
“He loves Ascot, but he made a bad mistake early and got away with it,” the delighted Williams said.
“It’s fantastic for Daryl. He would have ridden him three years ago, but he had a whip ban and couldn’t ride.
“This time, Richard [Johnson] was banned, so Daryl’s stepped in. “He’ll go to the Cleeve Hurdle, at Cheltenham, probably,” he told Weatherbys’ website.
The victory in the £100,000 contest was memorable for Jacob who had won a brace of Grade 1s on Reve De Sivola earlier in his career and also won a Triumph Hurdle on Zarkandar.
“This horse [Reve De Sivola] has been a big part of my career,” Jacobs said. “When I started a job with Nick Williams he was one of the first horses I rode as a juvenile and for him to keep going the way he has and put in an effort like that was unbelievable. He has a massive heart.
“Zarkandar was running all over us approaching the last, but I’ve ridden Zarkandar plenty of times and know him well. I know Reve De Sivola has a big heart and knew it was never over until he crossed the line.
“He dug very deep when he needed to and that was his career best today. I was happy with the performance today, but you need the horse.
“Nick and all the staff have done a great job to bring him back after the disappointment of Auteuil last time. He hasn’t won since he won this race 12 months ago and to bring him back in his best shape, is a great training performance.
“Ascot brings out the best in him. His three best runs have been round here.
“It’s the biggest winner I’ve had since Cheltenham and this is a dream. This is what all of us jockeys want to be doing – riding in the Grade 1 races.
“I’m delighted. I’ve won a couple of Grade 1s on this horse and he’s been a star to me.”
Jacob was also quick to pay tribute to the runner-up and his trainer Paul Nicholls who Jacob rode for, for three years.
“I had three fantastic years with Paul and Zarkandar has been a hell of a horse for me as well,” he added.
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