Garde La Victoire won at Sandown Park
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Cheltenham Racecourse

Garde La Victoire returned to chasing and underlined his class with a gutsy display off top weight to win the 32Red Casino Handicap Chase at Sandown Park.

Seven went to post for this two mile contest and from the off it was De Faoithedream, so unlucky at Cheltenham recently, who went off into the early lead.

At the first, De Faoithesdream touched down just ahead of Garde La Victoire, who was a little low at it, while Ulck Du Lin raced third and then ex-Irish trained Bright New Morning, with that order as they passed the post with a circuit to run.

De Faoithesdream, taking the shortest route, led over the third, while Garde La Victoire was jumping a little out to his left, in behind, Ulck Du Lin made a bad mistake at the fence before the water jump.

As the seven took the Railway Fences, De Faoithesdream continued to bowl along ahead of Garde La Victoire and Bright New Morning, with Bold Henry and Hollywoodien next, as Ulck Du Lin and Savello struggled.

Garde La Victoire went on at the Pond Fence, three from home, as De Faoithesdream dropped quickly away.

Racing to the final fence, Garde La Victoire led from stable mate Bold Henry and this pair landed clear.

However, the class of Garde La Victoire saw him re-gathered quickly by Richard Johnson and he powered clear up the hill under 11 stone, 12 pounds, for a convincing victory.

Last year’s winner Bold Henry tired late on, but held on to make it a Philip Hobbs one-two, with Hollywoodien and Bright New Dawn hot on his heels in the minor placings.

Sarah Hobbs, wife of the winning trainer, said: “Richard Johnson said he jumped left, which he has done a bit in the past, over the first three.

“He got in a rhythm after the third. He is still learning and is still a baby. That’s what we will do in the future, stick at two miles with him.

“I don’t know if he is good enough for that (Queen Mother Champion Chase), but the Game Spirit might be more like it.”