Wells grinds out Crisp Steeplechase at Ladbrokes Park

Wells ridden by Richard Cully wins the Crisp Steeplechase at Sandown and now heads to The Grand National Steeplechase. Photo: Racing.com

THERE were concerns that Wells wouldn’t handle the heavy conditions at Ladbrokes Park on Sunday, but the 10-year-old proved too tough in winning the $125,000 Crisp Steeplechase.

Wells was smashed in the betting late to $1.60 at Sportsbet.com.au after opening at $2.25 earlier in the day and that confidence may have been under pressure as they approached the turn, but Wells is the class act of the field and it showed why.

The Kathryn Durden-trained runner looked flat in chasing New Zealand runner Over The Yardarm, but Wells dug deep over the concluding stages to score the narrow victory.

“I thought he was going to have to lift, but with his staying prowess I knew he would kick,” Durden said. “He had to work under the 70kg, he did a wonderful job.”

Wells came into the race having won the Mosstrooper Chase by a neck over Zed Em, but that came on a more favoured soft track at Bendigo. Durden wasn’t sure how it would handle the extreme heavy at Sandown, but it proved any doubters wrong.

“I’ve always said this horse is a soft 6 horse, so he did a good job today first time back on heavy ground,” Durden said. “He’s just a super horse.”


The preparation hadn’t been smooth sailing for the son of Galileo after cutting its head prior to being scratched in The Australian Steeplechase, but after consecutive wins it now heads to the Grand National Steeplechase as the likely favourite.

“He cut his head coming to Sandown when he was scratched from The Australian, so I was a bit nervous,” Durden said.

“The horse is going well, everything has gone smoothly apart from that so onward and upwards.”

Irish jockey Richard Cully always looked comfortable in the saddle, but it was giving a sizable head start to a quality Kiwi type and it took all the grit and determination to get it home.

“He missed the kick by one or two (lengths) and was on the back foot,” Cully said. “He’s so classy, he dug deep and I knew he’d find the line.”

Over The Yardarm gave up the lead over the last 150 metres and came back at Wells nearing the line, but Cully always believed he had the better horse underneath him.

“He’s tough, he’s proven, he’s done it before and he gave him 6kg, too,” Cully said. “I didn’t want to rush him down the hill.

“He’s an unreal horse, he’s just so tough.

“He jumps well, travels good and the Durden’s have done a great job at keeping him sound.”

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