Westerner son on top at Cheltenham

Champagne West (by Westerner) winning the Ryman Stationery Novices' Chase at Cheltenham

Champagne West (6g Westerner-Wyndham Sweetmarie, by Mister Lord) made it two out of two over fences when landing a high-class novice chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Roger Brookhouse’s son of Westerner, who finished fourth in last season’s G1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, justified odds-on favouritism as he was ridden to victory up the Cheltenham hill by Richard Johnson.

“He did what he had to do. It wasn’t ideal to be on my own for so long as it can be a daunting place for a young horse coming up at that hill here. He was a bit careful at the last two but it was good experience for him,” said Johnson.

“It was his second run over fences and the main thing is that he’s come through it and will have learned a lot from it.”

Trainer Philip Hobbs reported that the six-year-old, whose long-term target is the G1 RSA Chase at the Festival in March, could return to Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

“Richard said the ground is very gluey which didn’t help him,” Hobbs told PA Sport. “Soft ground is no issue for him, we know that already. Making a mistake or two today might help him in the long run.

“I definitely think he’s a three-mile horse in time, but I think we could come back here on New Year’s Day for the two-mile-five race for some more practice.

“Roger likes having runners here and we like having winners here so everyone is happy. The G1 Feltham Novices’ Chase is also an option. Come March time, I see him as a RSA horse.”

Champagne West, who was bred by Peter Byrne, was bought at a Brightwells Cheltenham sale for £120,000 by Brookhouse and Westerner was responsible for the top-priced breeze-up horse at Friday night’s auction.

Heading the business was a £50,000 three-year-old out of the Luso mare Glenair Lucy, who was bought by Anthony Bromley for owner Peter Mellett.

“Peter said ‘pick out the best breeze-up horse’ and this is it. Oliver Sherwood will train him,” Bromley told EBN.

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