Saphir shines as Johnson takes the treble

January 11, 2014 11:55am
Saphir du Rheu
Photo: Yuji Noda
Richard Johnson enjoyed a superb day as the Philip Hobbs' duo of Captain Chris and Planet of Sound provided part of a 59-1 treble, but it was the exciting Saphir du Rheu who stole the headlines and left us pondering what the future may hold.

Strongly fancied to add yet another victory to his record, Saphir du Rheu was sent out by Paul Nicholls to enhance his lofty reputation in the William Hill Lanzarote Hurdle, but the manner of his facile victory ensured that this was a performance which would note him down as an exceptionally progressive five year old with the world at his feet.

At six years old the legacy of Paul Nicholls' star World Hurdle champion, Big Buck's, began to unfold as the French bred son of Cadoudal began to power through the hurdling grades with somewhat fluidity as he targeted the very top. 

Admittedly, the reputation of Saphir du Rheu has a considerable way to go to even start to match that of Big Buck's, yet the manner of which Saphir du Rheu continues to take on the toughest of handicap challenges off of a considerable weight is one to note. 

Partnered by Harry Derham, Saphir du Rheu was running off of a fifteen pounds higher mark than in his last victory - with Derham claiming five pounds off of his back, but provided his viewers with a performance that suggested that a rating of 145 is not one which is likely to stop his progression just yet.
Saphir du Rheu is now being considered for the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell Park on February 23rd.

While Saphir du Rheu was providing us with a glimpse of the future, Richard Johnson provided us with a reminder of the past as Planet of Sound returned with a memento reminiscent of his 2010 Punchestown Gold Cup victory, as he defied top weight to defeat Paul Nicholls' Jump City in the William Hill Bet On The Move Handicap Chase.

Planet of Sound has been away from the racetrack for nine months, and without a win for just under four years, yet nobody seemed to remind him of this prior to the race as he bounded along with a renewed enthusiasm for racing and, despite making an error at the last fence, was always holding his rivals.

Planet of Sound was providing Richard Johnson with the final leg of a treble on the card, after earlier successes on Closing Ceremony and Captain Chris, himself who reminded us of the undoubted ability which he holds.

However, whether Captain Chris does race at the Cheltenham Festival is open for debate, with trainer Philip Hobbs stating that alternative options at Punchestown and Ascot may be the preferred targets due to their key races being around a right-handed track.
Photos courtesy of Yuji Noda 


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