Annual Invictus (Mahler) Impresses At Cheltenham

Cheltenham Chaser Kicks Off Impressive Mahler Double

A step up in class may be on the cards for Annual Invictus (6g Mahler - Shantou Rose, by Shantou) after he produced an impressive performance to win the Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.

The Chris Gordon-trained bay completed a hat-trick over hurdles last season and finished a promising second on his chase debut earlier this month. Stepping up to two and a half miles on Friday, he chased the leaders until asserting at the third last and was ridden on the turn for home. Keeping on well on the run-in, he scored by three lengths under Tom Cannon, in a new course record time.

“The way he jumped is going to stand him in good stead,” the winning trainer said after the race. “On softer ground, I think we might look at one or two of those Graded races.”

Owned by Thomas Michael Smith, Annual Invictus was purchased privately after winning a four-year-old maiden for Cormac Doyle. Bred by Mrs Deborah Hobson, he provides an exciting update for his Crystal Ocean half-brother catalogued in the Tattersalls Ireland November NH Sale.

Later that afternoon at Sligo, Churchstonewarrior (6g Mahler - Western Approaches, by Westerner) proved a class above his rivals in the maiden hurdle at Sligo.

An impressive 16 length winner of a bumper in January, Jonathan Sweeney’s charge was last seen in February when finishing second on his hurdle debut and stepped up to three miles and a furlong and a half on return. Chasing the leaders under Denis O’Regan, he was pushed to challenge after the second last and asserted at the final flight. Keeping on strongly, he scored by six lengths on the line.

“He's an improving horse,” Sweeney later commented. “He's still immature but he'll be a lovely horse over a fence next year.”

Owned by TA Hegarty, Churchstonewarrior was bred by Thistletown Stud.