Finian’s Oscar boosts Arkle claims with Cheltenham victory


Cheltenham Racecourse Pic: Racingfotos (Courtesy of Jockey Club Racecourses).

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FINIAN’S Oscar boosted his chances of lining up in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival with an impressive win on the first day of the November meeting at Cheltenham on Friday.

The five-year-old was far too good for his three rivals in the extended two and a half mile Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase where he raced close-up in the early stages and ran on strongly inside the final furlong to score by two and a quarter lengths.

Finian’s Oscar, racing in the colours of Alan Potts who died earlier this week, is now best-priced at 12-1, but as short as 8-1 for the Arkle where the betting is heading by Footpad (6-1) for one of the highlights of the first day of the 2018 Festival on March 13.

“It was really lovely to be given the go-ahead to run the Potts’ horses this weekend,” assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said of the winner who has won six of his seven starts, suffering his sole defeat when beaten a short head at Punchestown earlier this year.

“This was a celebration of what Alan gave to National Hunt Racing.

“You need to be positive with this horse whatever you do, whether it is going short or long. He was typically novicey early on.

“I could not have been happier coming down the hill and I knew he would pick up. I thought he would put it to bed, but we saw it at Punchestown, he just idled.

“This is the bit I like, Barry [Geraghty on second-placed Movewiththetimes] got first run on us, but once Bryan got hold of Finian’s Oscar he has picked up and won very nicely. I think this will have taught the horse a lot.

“He won a sprint and we haven’t ruled out the Arkle but we thought it would be too much to come around here for the first time over two miles.

“He won’t go for the RSA, he has too much speed for that. Don’t get me wrong, we think he could grow into a Gold Cup horse. But for now, he does not need to be running over extreme distances.

“He showed a cracking turn of foot today and it was a lovely performance. He ticked all the boxes today.”