Wilde About Oscar returned to form with a bang to take the Listed spoils in the Bet At racingtv.com Novices’ Hurdle at Exeter.
The Dan Skelton-trained gelding had looked a smart recruit when winning both his novice hurdles in the autumn, only to come unstuck in the Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury when stepped up to Grade One company.
The six-year-old got back on track with a dominant display under an enterprising ride by Harry Skelton.
Leading before the second flight, Wilde About Oscar (16-5) was far too strong for The Glancing Queen and crossed the line seven and a half lengths clear of the evens favourite.
The winning trainer said: “I’m really happy with him. At Newbury he hit four out and just stopped – whether he had a dead leg or something, I’ll just never know.
“Other than at Newbury, he’s having a really smart career and today he showed he could handle tough conditions.
“He jumped very well, just a little out to his left sometimes. It was his first time going right-handed, so I’m not too bothered about that.
“It was confirmation we are back on track and that we’ve got a really nice horse.
“Going up in trip to two and a half (miles) is no issue. I’m very happy with him. I always thought he was a good horse. I’ve never lost faith, (he had) just one funny run.
“The form of today’s race was very good. The mare (The Glancing Queen) is good and we’ve had to give her 7lb.”
Wilde About Oscar was cut to 25-1 from 40-1 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham with Paddy Power, but whether he takes up that engagement has yet to be decided.
“I’ve spoken to Mike (Newbould) his owner. We’re yet to decide what we’re going to do with him,” said Skelton.
“We’re not going to put him under pressure. We’ll give him a week and see how he is.”
Brinkley earned a quote of 16-1 for the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham with Paddy Power after running out a game winner of the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Series Qualifier.
The David Pipe-trained grey was never too far off the pace before taking closer order in the straight.
Leading before the final flight, Brinkley (100-30) kept on strongly to deny Tommy Rapper by three and a quarter lengths.
“He has qualified for the Pertemps Final now, but I need to sit and have a chat with the owners (to see) if they want to go there or look at something else,” said Pipe.
“If it was like this ground you would have to take a chance, but if it was good to soft ground you might miss it.”
That success gave Pipe and Scudamore a double after Martinhal (4-1) struck gold in the British Stallion Studs EBF ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle.
The six-year-old staged a game front-running performance as he backed up a course success five weeks ago to hold Solwara One by a head.
“It was a lovely performance and he is a horse we have always liked. He disappointed after his first two runs over hurdles as he never really finished his races, but the wind operation has helped him,” said the Nicholashayne trainer.
“To me he is a three-miler, but he never finished those first two races, so we dropped him back to two miles and one furlong here last time and stepped him back up a little bit further today.”
Karl Philippe had found Martinhal half a length too good on his latest start, but made no mistake as he got off the mark over jumps in the second division of the novice hurdle.
Fergal O’Brien’s six-year-old also made all the running with Paddy Brennan able to dictate affairs. The 6-4 favourite ran the opposition into the ground, coming home 10 lengths clear of Sheldon, with a further 14 lengths to One Fer Mamma in third.
“He definitely deserved that. We decided to be more positive on him today and the step up in trip has helped him as well,” said O’Brien.
“The step up in trip looked ideal for him and he loves that ground.”
Karl Philippe will now head to Sandown for the EBF Paddy Power ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.
“The thinking is to go for the EBF Final now at Sandown. It’s a race we won a few years ago with Barney Dwan, so hopefully he can follow in his hoofprints.” the Cheltenham trainer added.