Sporting John Provides Getaway With Grade 1 Glory
Connections’ speculations that Sporting John (6g Getaway - Wild Spell, by Oscar) would be seen to best effect over fences rang true on Saturday, as he produced a career-best performance to land the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown.
The son of Getaway first impressed between the flags for Matthew Flynn O’Connor, before selling to Kieran McManus for £160,000, and went on to win his first three starts over hurdles. Though disappointing on his chase debut in November, he appeared to appreciate Saturday’s heavy ground and strong pace, which ensured a test of stamina in the two and a half mile contest.
Richard Johnson rode Philip Hobbs’s charge at the back of the field, making headway before the third last and produced a challenge approaching the final fence. Ridden to lead on the run-in, he won by three lengths and three quarters, as Grade 1 winner Shan Blue claimed runners-up honours.
Speaking after the race, a delighted Philip Hobbs said, “I'm chuffed to bits with the horse. The last few runs have been very disappointing, but it's great to see him back on form, even if he did take a long time to warm up.”
Johnson also believes Sporting John may progress over a further trip, saying, “He's probably a three-miler as such but in today's conditions that is what you need. It's fantastic to get the win, especially for JP and Philip.”
Owned by JP McManus, the now five-time winner was bred by Stephanie Hanly from the family of her homebred star Oscar Whisky (Oscar), who himself won the Scilly Isles in 2014.