A short-priced double in spring-like conditions at Exeter fuelled hopes that Colin Tizzard’s yard is returning to form just in time Cheltenham next week.
Tizzard’s Dorset stable has struggled for much of the season, but smooth victories from Killer Kane and Amarillo Sky – both under Harry Cobden – confirmed the green shoots of recovery which have been in evidence of late.
Killer Kane was sent off 5-6 favourite for the Get Daily Tips At racingtv.com Maiden Hurdle, dominating the final mile to come home five and a half lengths clear from Our Surprise.
Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard sees the winner as a future chaser, and said: “He’s a lovely big baby who wasn’t doing a lot in front, but quickened up nicely for one tiny smack.
“Everything he does over hurdles is a bonus.”
Cobden added: “He’s very big and raw – and the couple of times I asked him to put in an extra stride, he did. I think he’s going to be a staying type. He wants two and a half now, and will need three miles when he gets a bit older.”
Two of the yard’s highest-profile Festival contenders are WellChild Gold Cup pair Native River and Lostintranslation.
Tizzard gave an upbeat report on both.
He said of 2018 winner Native River: “He came out of his last race (victory in the Cotswold Chase) really well and has enjoyed a little break.
“The rain that’s forecast in the next few days will definitely help him.”
Lostintranslation was third in last year’s Gold Cup but has failed to rediscover that form in three starts this season.
Tizzard said: “Lostintranslation looks a lot fitter than he did at Newbury (a distant fifth in the Denman Chase) and scoped clean after the race.
“We have not given up hope of getting him back to where we were with him on Gold Cup day last year.”
Amarillo Sky could be named the winner of the Every Race Live On Racing TV Handicap Hurdle some way out, as Cobden confidently let the 5-2 favourite go about his business and stretch seven lengths clear of Steady Away.
“I thought his novice hurdle form was OK, and he got stuck in the mud at Huntingdon,” said Tizzard.
“He loved that better ground, and is a beautiful young horse who is at the right end of the handicap.”
Nico de Boinville was successful with his only ride of the day when 6-4 joint-favourite Valsheda won the opening Watch Racing TV In Stunning HD Novices’ Hurdle for Nicky Henderson.
After the combination had come home four lengths clear of Johnny B, De Boinville said: “He’s a big, raw horse with so much potential.
“Doncaster (distant second on debut) was part of the learning curve, and I was keen to get him back upsides Party Fuzz. We’re looking forward to getting him over fences.”
Run To Milan was a popular locally-trained winner, taking control up the straight in the Join Racing TV Now Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.
Under Alan Johns, the bottom weight and 4-1 joint-favourite pulled 12 lengths clear of Larkbarrow Lad, and trainer Victor Dartnall said: “He was a good horse until getting injured on his first run over fences at Uttoxeter.
“He’d beaten Lalor in a bumper at Wincanton, and still has few miles on the clock.
“He came back at Fakenham, where he made a mistake and overreached, dragging two shoes off. This ground was perfect, but he wouldn’t want it any quicker than good.”
There was a 40-1 shock in the Watch On Racing TV Handicap Chase when Bonanza Sam made virtually all under conditional Alexander Thorne to beat Writteninthesand by two and a quarter lengths.