In all the years of racing at Wincanton, I don’t think any horse has ever been welcomed back into the winner’s enclosure with quite the roar that Melodic Rendezvous received on Saturday after the Elite Hurdle. The Good Horse is fast becoming a real cult hero of the National Hunt game; his enthusiastic owners and Steve Croft certainly know how to celebrate his victories. Saturday was always going to be a really tough question for Melodic Rendezvous; coming off a 272 day absence and having to carry top weight against progressive rivals was never going to be an easy task – read about the build up in Next stop Wincanton. Paul Nicholls was very bullish about his Triumph Hurdle second Far West and the highly progressive pair of Ahyaknowyourself and Karinga Dancer also lined up. The race was run at a nice rate with AP McCoy setting a good tempo on Ahyaknowyourself. Far West was being ridden very prominently and Nick Scholfield was happy to wait in rear. As they exited the back straight, AP McCoy started to work on his mount as Sam Twiston-Davies sat motionless cruising on the 4 year old Far West. Nick Scholfield was travelling with just as much zest in behind. Nick Scholfield looked to make ground on Far West as they rounded the home bend, but Melodic Rendezvous slipped quite badly on straightening. His jockey gave his charge time to regain balance whilst Sam Twiston-Davies sensed it was his time to go and win the race and sent Far West on. As they approached 2 out, Far West had a few lengths lead, which he extended at the hurdle as Melodic Rendezvous failed to lift his feet and did well to stay upright. Nick Scholfield sent him on to chase after the leader and within strides he had drawn alongside Far West. They raced towards the last hurdle together and Melodic Rendezvous produced an electric leap at the last to give him the momentum to draw clear of the 4 year old, the Good Horse winning a shade under 2 lengths under a very considerate ride. On the figures this will not be a performance that would win a Champion Hurdle, but all things considered it was a mighty reappearance. Melodic Rendezvous had every single excuse in the book to be beaten, but like real stars he did not need to use any of them. He is almost assured to improve on this performance, and come March he should be bang there to win the big race on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival. After the heartbreak of the Supreme Novice Hurdle the relief and joy at the performance was clear to see. The love for this horse is infectious. Steve Croft struggled to hold back the tears as he led back his pride and joy with a Melodic Rendezvous scarf draped over the horses neck. They were greeted by a real heartfelt cheer from the West Country faithful; the owners intent on making the most of enjoying their superstars performance, milked the attention from the packed crowd. After this brilliant performance, it appears the Gerry Fieldon or the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle will be his next appearance. With each race ticked off, the dream of Cheltenham glory becomes one step closer. I genuinely believe this a horse good enough to win a Champion Hurdle; he has bundles of natural ability and Saturday’s reappearance really does show he is a true fighter. It is merely a dream for now; but some dreams do come true, and one thing can be guaranteed… if The Good Horse wins in March, it will be the party to end all partys!
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