Ajero sealed a hat-trick of victories when taking the MansionBet’s Faller Insurance Handicap Hurdle at Market Rasen.
The Kim Bailey-trained gelding began his winning streak at Ludlow in October, following up with a success at Kempton in November before collecting the third leg of his treble as 7-2 co-favourite under David Bass.
The gelding took up the lead with three flights left to negotiate and held on to record a two-length success, despite hanging slightly right as the line approached.
“He really picked up well down to the second last, it’s tiring old ground and he’s done really well to keep going,” said Bass.
“He did just lean to the right, to the rail, when he came under pressure, so I think for the time being we’ll just stick to these right-handed tracks.
“He’s a pleasure to ride and he’s got loads of gears, I’m really pleased with him.”
Ajero is half-brother to high-class chaser Charbel, with Bass reporting that the six-year-old is even faster than his older sibling.
“He’s smaller than him, but he’s actually quicker than Charbel was and Charbel was a quick horse,” he said.
“At home he has to do everything on his own as he’s just too quick for anything else.”
Oliver Greenall’s Homme Public went one better than his recent second at Catterick to claim the MansionBet At Market Rasen Juvenile Maiden Hurdle by a comfortable six and a half lengths under Henry Brooke.
The four-year-old joined Greenall’s stable after beginning his career under the care of French trainer Francois Nicolle, taking the runner-up spot on his British debut when contesting a similar juvenile hurdle event.
This time the gelding was not for beating, taking up the lead with two flights left to jump and readily pulling clear of second placed Gilbertina to triumph as 11-8 favourite.
“On that ground I think he needed the run slightly, inexperience probably got him beat at Catterick,” Greenall said.
“He’s more experienced today and he settled. He’s one of those horses that only ever does enough, he’s a very laid back sort of horse.”
The French-bred holds an entry for Cheltenham’s Triumph Hurdle, but Greenall feels he may still be too inexperienced to take his chance in that Grade One event.
“He’s done it nicely enough today, but what he’s beaten is hard to say,” he said.
“It’s a possibility, Cheltenham could actually suit him, but I think he needs to travel a bit better.
“I don’t know if he’s hardened enough for Cheltenham, we’ll see, we’ve got the option there.”
Martello Sky remains unbeaten over hurdles after taking the MansionBet’s Best Odds Guaranteed EBF Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle for Lucy Wadham and Aidan Coleman.
The grey filly won on her debut over obstacles when taking a mares’ maiden contest at Fakenham in December, having previously won two bumpers at the same track, and backed up that performance with a one-and-a-quarter-length victory over Marada when starting as 6-4 favourite.
“She’s always been on our radar as a nice, above average filly,” Coleman said of the five-year-old.
“Size and scope-wise you wouldn’t think Fakenham would suit her, but you run where suits and the prize money at Fakenham is good, it’s close to Lucy, so why not run there?
“She’d go anywhere though, you could run her anywhere – up, down, left or right, it doesn’t really matter.
“She’s won well, it takes a bit of doing, but she’s a nice filly.”
Blarney Bateleur took full advantage of her generous handicap mark to take the MansionBet’s Watch And Bet Mares’ Handicap Hurdle at 28-1 for trainer Andy Irvine and jockey Niall Houlihan.
The eight-year-old was rated 93 after three performances under rules, leaving her bottom of the handicap.
“I thought today the grade might be a little too high, but I thought off 10st 1lb, mares only and with the ground up here suiting her, it’d be worth giving it a go,” said Irvine.
The performance marked Blarney Bateleur’s first run under Irvine’s name, with the mare previously trained by his late wife Zoe Davison, who died after a lengthy battle with cancer in January.
“Each day is difficult, I wake up and my wife’s not there,” Irvine said.
“We’re keeping the show on the road, as we keep saying.
“We left at quarter to six this morning, it took us four, nearly five, hours to get here and just for that it’s been worth it.
“We’d do it every day of the week for this.”