Her Indoors picks up Grade Three honours at Cheltenham

Form from the Festival played its part as Her Indoors came out on top in the NAF Fillies’ Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham.

According to trainer Alan King, the 6-1 shot found the hustle and bustle of the Fred Winter (Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle) a shade intimidating, and was happier in this smaller field.

Under Adrian Heskin she seized command from Scholastic on the approach to the final flight, staying on the better to score by three and a half lengths.

“It was a good race to target,” said King of the Grade Three contest.

“I thought the smaller field would certainly help her, and with her stamina she would power up the hill.

“It might be a while before she runs back over hurdles as I plan to give her a few runs on the Flat.”

Heskin said: “She was a bit star-struck in the Fred Winter, but is a good tough filly who has the scope to jump a fence one day.

“She wants a stiff two miles and will stay two and a half. She has a good heart and a lovely attitude, and I knew half a furlong before the last she was going to win.”

Martello Sky also took part at the Festival and she readily outclassed her foes under a confident Aidan Coleman in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

Martello Sky in full flight
Martello Sky in full flight (David Davies/PA)

In spite of three withdrawals on account of the changing ground, the Lucy Wadham-trained grey went off at 10-11 before pulling two and three-quarter lengths clear of market rival Sandymount Rose up the final hill.

Eight in the mares’ novices’ hurdle at the Festival, Coleman confessed his mount was confidently expected to prevail, saying: “She’s a very very nice mare, and I fancied her before the non-runners were announced.

“She now has black type with loads of options in the new mares’ programme for next season. She flicked he ears turning for home, but jumped super, and I was delighted with her.

“She stayed the trip well, and while they went slow early on I’m sure she will have no problem with the distance in a more strongly-run race.”

Venetia Williams praised the Cheltenham ground staff with their watering after the triumph of Pink Legend in the British EBF Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Chase Final.

Under Charlie Deutsch, the 11-2 winner kept on to score by two and a half lengths from Danes Idol.

Williams said: “I think the old cheekpieces have helped her focus, and I’m delighted for her owner Frank Mahon who bred her. She’s now got black type from a Listed race at Cheltenham.

“I would also say they have done a lovely job with the watering.”

Pink Legend (right) won for Venetia Williams and Charlie Deutsch
Pink Legend (right) won for Venetia Williams and Charlie Deutsch (David Davies/PA)

Williams added that Royale Pagaille is “on the mend and being led out each day” following his run in the Gold Cup.

“It’s all going the right way and he’ll be back for the new season in the autumn,” she said.

Michael Scudamore was the proudest man at the course after rags-to-riches mare Northern Beau made it a third course and distance triumph at Cheltenham in the Visit racing Mares’ Handicap Chase.

After Brendan Powell brought the 11-4 joint-favourite home 14 lengths clear of Miss Amelia, the trainer said: “She was rated 35 on the Flat and was sold to be a riding pony. Then they decided to run in point-to-points and she’s ended up winning three at the home of steeplechasing.”

The Christian Williams-trained Win My Wings reacted favourably to a return to a race contested by her own sex when defying top-weight under Nick Schofield in the Catesby Estates PLC Mares’ Handicap Chase.

Market Rasen strike completes Ajero hat-trick

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.”