Broadway Boy continued his steep upward trajectory over fences with a determined victory in the Favourite From The Sun Now Daily Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained five-year-old had won two of his first three starts since having his attentions switched to the larger obstacles, his only defeat coming at the hands of dual Stayers’ Hurdle hero Flooring Porter at this track in October.
Having since returned to Cheltenham to win a Listed novice event by 20 lengths, Broadway Boy was a heavily supported 11-8 favourite stepping into a £100,000 handicap that featured a Betfair Chase winner and Gold Cup third in Protektorat – and the Twiston-Davies runner proved more than up to the task.
Given an attacking ride from the front by the trainer’s son Sam, the Malinas gelding did make a couple of jumping errors along the way but was always doing enough on the run-in to see off his long-time challenger Threeunderthrufive by a length and a quarter.
Dan Skelton can rightly take plenty of heart from the performance of Protektorat, who bounced back from a disappointing defence of his Betfair Chase crown at Haydock last month to finish an honourable third under the welter burden of 12 stone.
Of the winner, Twiston-Davies senior said: “His jumping was brilliant on the whole, but he made three mistakes down the back and if it wasn’t for those, he would have won quite easily. He is very tough and really good.
“After the last day, this race came onto the agenda. We are always looking for big money and this race was worth a lot of money.
“We certainly do like pitching novice chasers against experienced horses when we get the chance. We have done all our lives, and we have earned a lot of money doing that.
“I was delighted when Protektorat was declared to keep the weights down – it meant the world to us.
“He could go for either the National Hunt Chase or the Brown Advisory come the Festival. We will just have to see what the opposition looks like before making those decisions.”
Jonjo O’Neill senior and junior combined to land the John Wyke Memorial Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase with 5-1 shot Are U Wise To That.
The six-year-old travelled like the best horse in the race for much of the extended three-mile-one-furlong contest, but looked set to come off second best when Irish raider Midnight Our Fred kicked a couple of lengths clear between the final two fences.
To his credit, though, Are U Wise To That gritted his teeth to stay in the fight and finished the stronger of the pair up the hill to prevail by a length and three-quarters.
“When he missed the second-last, I thought he was beaten, to be honest,” said the winning trainer. “Then he jumped the last okay, but he stuck to his guns well, to be fair, so we are happy.
“His jumping was average, but he has got around. He does it in his own fashion, but he won nicely.
“It is nice to know that he can get around Cheltenham and you would have to look at the Ultima at the Festival with him.”
The Sophie Leech-trained Madara secured top honours in the two-mile Quintessentially Handicap Chase.
Favourite backers will have been getting excited after In Excelsis Deo moved to the front, but 9-1 shot Madara proved too strong on the run-in and passed the post with three and a quarter lengths in hand.
Leech said: “I’m absolutely delighted. He is a lovely young horse to have and he is very straightforward. He is just a joy really.
“We really felt after his last run that he needed further, and we were really keen to run in the December Gold Cup, but because of his four-year-old allowance, Fakir D’Oudairies put us so far out of the weights it just wasn’t worthwhile.
“Hopefully, he will be back here in March somewhere.”
The concluding Virgin Bet Every Saturday Money Back Mares’ Handicap Hurdle went to 11-2 shot Nurse Susan, trained by Dan Skelton and ridden by his brother Harry.
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