Beware The Bear wins Festival Handicap Chase as favourites Mister Whitaker and Up For Review falter
- Up For Review was the favourite before the 2.50pm race on Tuesday afternoon
- Mister Whitaker was also heavily backed along with Give Me A Copper
- Similar to the first race of the day, it had to be pulled back after a false start
- Beware The Bear came from the middle of the pack to race home in first place
Beware The Bear claimed top honours in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.
Trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Jerry McGrath, the nine-year-old was a 10-1 shot for the first handicap of the Festival in a fiercely-competitive field of 24 runners.
For much of the way it looked like Up For Review might give Willie Mullins his third winner of the afternoon as he travelled powerfully on the heels of the leaders running down the hill.
Beware The Bear, trained by Nicky Henderson, won the Ultima Handicap Chase on Tuesday
However, he made a mistake three fences from the finish and his effort soon petered out.
Beware The Bear – a winner at Cheltenham in January – was in the lead at the top of the home straight and while Sue Smith’s Vintage Clouds finished strongly, Henderson’s inmate had just enough in reserve to hold him at bay.
Nick Alexander’s top-weight and Grand National contender Lake View Lad ran a fine race to finish third ahead of Lucinda Russell’s Big River – another Scottish challenger – in fourth.
Henderson said: ‘That was lovely. Jeremiah McGrath gave him a lovely ride and he had a lovely time. It is nice to get one on the board as that settles everything down.
Beware The Bear produced a strong performance as the sun started to come out on Tuesday
‘We put them on (blinkers) on New Year’s Day. We’ve always made the running with him, or tried to do that. There was only six runners that day (New Year’s Day) and he got a soft lead.
‘He normally goes up there, drops himself out and comes home with a rattle. We thought ‘let’s start where he normally puts himself’, so we started at the back and passed horses. He stayed well and he enjoyed that.
‘He is not in the Grand National and you might wish you had put him in there now, but I would imagine we will have a look at something like the Scottish National or the bet365 at Sandown.’