Whisper and Davy Russell clear the final fence in front
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By James Burn 1:34PM 1 JAN 2017
Report: Cheltenham, Sunday
BetBright Dipper Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) 2m5f, 5yo+
WHISPER, who hit the heights over hurdles, showed he has the ability to be a player at a high level over fences too when denying the well-regarded Clan Des Obeaux in the BetBright Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on Sunday.
The nine-year-old, who is trained by Nicky Henderson for Dai Walters, was ridden by Davy Russell and returned at 11-4.
For much of the first race broadcast on ITV for more than 30 years, 10-11 favourite Clan Des Obeaux looked like showing why trainer Paul Nicholls rates him as a potential Cheltenham Gold Cup horse.
However, he was not fluent at the second-last fence and that allowed Whisper to take advantage in the £32,000 Grade 2. Briery Belle was third, while Never Equalled was last of the four runners.
A two-time winner of the Grade 1 Silver Cross Stayers’ Hurdle, Whisper was sent over fences two years ago, but never fired and Russell was quick to praise Henderson for getting the nine-year-old back on track.
He said: “All credit to Nicky and the team to get this horse back. He jumped great and he’s very good. Dai rang me two weeks ago and said it’s important I come to ride him again and to keep him going forward. His confidence is on the up.”
Paddy Power make Whisper 14-1 for the Grade 1 JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.