Virgin Bet Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase: Gerri Colombe battles back to take Sandown Grade One | Racing News

Gerri Colombe produced a gutsy performance to land the Virgin Bet Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown.

Gordon Elliott’s Irish raider arrived at the Esher track unbeaten, having won two bumpers, a pair of hurdles and two chases, the last of which came in the Grade One Guinness Faugheen Chase at Limerick over Christmas.

Sent off the 10-11 favourite under Jordan Gainford, the seven-year-old looked to be cruising behind Balco Coastal before taking it up down the back on the final circuit.

Gerri Colombe and Jordan Gainford win at Limerick
Gerri Colombe and Jordan Gainford win at Limerick

However, he got in tight at the last of the Railway fences and briefly lost momentum. It handed the advantage to Nicky Henderson’s runner and jockey Nico de Boinville kicked for home.

At the Pond Fence, Gerri Colombe still had a bit to do and looked laboured, yet Gainford galvanised him and he responded to his rider’s urging and having gone upsides between the last two fences, a good leap at the last sealed the deal and he strode up the hill to score by a length and three-quarters.

Thunder Rock, who had been patiently ridden at the back of the field throughout much of the two-and-a-half-mile contest, made some late gains to finish third.

“We were delighted. We knew we’d be taking a risk going over two and half miles,” Elliott, who was at Leopardstown, told Racing TV.

“In fairness to the horse, he looked like he was beaten three out, but he stayed galloping really well. It was a good performance, we’re delighted with him.

“We were a bit worried that the ground was not as deep as it usually is, but Jordan went over and walked the track this morning. We knew it wasn’t as soft as ideal, but we knew we had to take our chances, being a Grade One.”

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