Speedo Boy beats Mahlervous
Image supplied by The Jockey Club

Speedo Boy powered to victory in the BetVictor Intermediate Handicap Hurdle with a burst of speed up the Cheltenham hill that carried him a length clear of second-placed Mahlervous.

The win gave trainer Ian Williams a double for the day after First Assignment’s victory in the previous race.

Speedo Boy, who was ridden by Tom O’Brien, is a useful dual-purpose performer and won a valuable handicap on the Flat at Ascot in July.

Williams said: “He has done it nicely. It was nice of them to take some of the hurdles out [the final two hurdles were taken out because of concerns about low sun] for a horse coming back from the Flat.

“He was a bit sketchy early on but has travelled into the race really well and stayed. I thought the second horse was coming back to him up the hill but he has done it really well. I thought that he might have ended up in trouble if he didn’t jump the hurdle down the hill but he jumped it nicely, stepped away from it well and came there full of running.

“He’s had a tough enough season on the Flat – we’ve had a couple of horses back from running on the Flat this summer and they haven’t done as well as I would have expected, so it’s nice to see him take a step in the right direction. Something like the Lanzarote Hurdle might be a target, but I think he’d be better on a flat track with a little bit more pace than was shown today.

“He won’t cope with the deep ground, or if he does he won’t be as good on it. He’s progressive and the handicapper can’t be too harsh with him today. He’s still going to be qualified for 0-125s I think – that would be appropriate. There are lots of opportunities for him. We have had a great season so far, so let’s hope it continues.”

Owner Paul Williams said: “I thought we might have left it a little too late but Tom did a great job. He is a little street-fighter and a beautiful little horse. We were a bit concerned about the number of horses to have fallen – we just wanted him to come back safely – but it’s wonderful to win.”

The four-year-old son of Vision d’Etat travelled smoothly into contention in the two mile and five furlong contest and with the two hurdles in the home straight omitted due to low sun, Speedo Boy, a classy dual-purpose performer, showed good speed to score by a length.

O’Brien, who also steered First Assignment to victory in the Listed Regulatory Finance Solutions Handicap Hurdle, said: “Speedo Boy travels well in his races and jumps well.

“It was a matter of getting there today at the right time. The omission of the hurdles did not really matter to him – he was the best horse on the day.

“He should stay further than this and he wasn’t stopping at the line.

“He enjoyed the ground today and may not want it that soft.

“I’ve really enjoyed riding a double at Cheltenham today.”

Mahlervous was not disgraced in second.

Mahlervous was beaten a length, with Lungarno Palace another two and a quarter lengths behind in third. The final two hurdles in the home straight were taken out to avoid any issues with sun glare.

Mahlervous was making his season’s debut, and his trainer, Warren Greatrex, said: “He’s quite laid back at home, and it’s hard to get a gauge on where you are with him. That was the first time Adrian [Heskin] has sat on him and he was impressed.

“It wasn’t to our advantage when the final hurdle came out, because he is such a clean jumper. He is a chaser in the making, and while I haven’t made a plan on that Adrian said don’t leave it too long. The horse is quite babyish still, but there are many good days to look forward to.”

Fergal O’Brien, who trains Lungarno Palace, said: “He’s been a lovely servant to us. He’s been here twice and into the winner’s enclosure twice, and he’s run well on the Flat. As I say, he’s been a great servant to me and to [owner] John Gallagher.

“He had a hard race last time, and may have been a little Flat today, but we would love to come back here for the Pertemps Final. He is entered at Market Rasen next week but won’t go there. He’ll stick to hurdles because he broke his shoulder as a young horse and we just look after him a bit.”