Fox Norton repeated last year's success in the
Shloer Chase with an authoritative display in the Grade Two heat at Cheltenham. The seven-year-old was another poignant
winner following the death a week ago of his owner Alan Potts.
He sat nicely in second place behind old rival Special Tiara, before going on under Bryan Cooper before the second-last fence. The Colin Tizzard-trained 4-5 favourite pulled away in a matter of strides to win by eight lengths. Cloudy Dream pipped Special Tiara for second spot. Fox Norton was cut to 2-1 from 9-2 for the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown with Paddy Power.
Cooper said: "He's very smart, it's a fair thrill to ride one when they are going that speed and going so well."
Tizzard said: "I suppose we were half-expecting that on his last two runs last season and in this race last year as well. We didn't know about the ground, but the ground is obviously no concern and I don't think it is an issue what he runs on. He is a much bigger and heavier horse and there is absolutely no need to change from two miles at the moment. It was a lovely performance.The last thing we want is to bring these brilliant horses to the races not fit. I'm sure he will improve on that. He looks a heavier horse to me and that might be because he is older. The Tingle Creek will be next.”
Faugheen is once again at the head of the ante-post market on the Champion Hurdle after an impressive return to action in the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.
The 2015 Champion Hurdle hero could not have been more convincing in the Grade One contest, on what was his eagerly-awaited comeback after 665 days on the sidelines, having last been seen winning the Irish Champion Hurdle in January, 2016.
Paul Townend, deputising on Willie Mullins' star for the injured Ruby Walsh, let Faugheen bowl along in front and once he asked him to go and put the race to bed, the 4-9 favourite fairly sprinted clear. Jezki, another former Champion Hurdle victor, was a distant second. Campeador fell at the last when well out of contention.
Faugheen was cut to 5-2 market leader from 5-1 for the two-mile championship at Cheltenham in March by Paddy Power, with RaceBets and Betfair going 11-4 from 5-1.
Mullins said: "It was very good. The horse did all the talking today. I've been talking up to now and you've all seen what I was saying. I don't know what I want to do now, I'm just happy to get today over with. We'll go home and hopefully he'll be all right in the morning.”
Berry, racing manager to Jezki's
owner JP McManus, said of the Jessica Harrington-trained nine-year-old: "The winner is just a different class
and is a great horse, it's great to see him back. Our lad is in good form and
ran well. We'll probably up him in trip at Christmas."