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Top amateur turned professional Edwards able to look forward to Cheltenham

Alex Edwards’ Doncaster victory on the promising Osprey Call was further vindication of his decision to turn professional just three weeks ago – a move which means he can seek more Cheltenham glory next month.

On the day it was confirmed all Edwards’ former amateur colleagues will remain out of action until after the Festival, because of coronavirus restrictions, even in the moment of victory he had inevitably mixed feelings.

The 30-year-old will be able to bid for his second success in the St. James’s Place Festival Hunters’ Chase – be it on 2019 winner Hazel Hill or one of the 13-year-old’s younger stablemates Wishing And Hoping or Salvatore.

Ex British point-to-point champion Edwards was due to complete this campaign as an amateur for trainer Phil Rowley, until the season was put on hold last month – and subsequently amateurs were suspended from riding under rules.

Against that backdrop, he made the switch early.

“It was always my plan to turn at the end of the point-to-point season – because I could ride a lot of point-to-pointing for my boss,” he said.

“That’s always been my main job. But with my boss (Rowley’s wife, Mel) now training under rules, it made sense for me – now or never to go professional.

“With the stopping of the amateurs riding, it spurred me on to do it quicker. I’d been speaking to the BHA beforehand, and it pushed me into making a decision there and then.”

Edwards may face a tough choice over which horse to ride at Cheltenham.

He said: “We’re very lucky – we’ve got a selection of two or three I could possibly ride.

“I can keep the ride. That’s great for me, but obviously there’s not great news for the whole amateur side.

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“A lot of good friends of mine work very, very hard (as amateur jockeys) – so it’s just frustrating for them. Let’s hope, in a month’s time,  we’re all back up and running and this is all forgotten about.”

Edwards should have more to smile about with the Alastair Ralph-trained Osprey Call, who overcame a significant mistake and awkward landing at the last for a near four-length win from Across The Line in the opening Virgin Bet Novices’ Hurdle.

“He’s a very green horse,” he said of the 7-1 winner.

“One minute he’s hanging right, then he’s hanging left, so it’s just trying to keep him on the straight and narrow.

“He’s got plenty of ability, and I think he could be going places.

“He was fairly keen early on. He’s a baby, and has to learn to settle and to breathe and to get into a rhythm jumping.

“It’s all a bit of a rush for him at the moment. But to go out and still win like that is quite nice – really impressive.”

Beau Bay produced an exemplary round of jumping from the front, apart from a blip at the second-last, to take the feature Virgin Bet Veterans’ Handicap Chase by almost four lengths from Ami Desbois.

Doncaster Races – February 24th, 2021
Beau Bay jumped well to win the Virgin Bet Veterans’ Handicap Chase (Tim Goode/PA)

The back-to-form Grand Sefton winner proved three miles is his bag these days – and after his 8-1 victory under Charlie Hammond, trainer Dr Richard Newland will be making future plans on that basis.

Among them the 2022 Grand National may even enter the equation – because although Beau Bay has an entry back at Aintree this year too, at 98th in the list he has no realistic chance of making the cut.

Newland said: “I was a bit gutted – because I thought he had a chance of winning the veterans’ race at Exeter (last week), and they called off the chases at the last minute (because of frost) and just ran the hurdles.

“That would have put him in the National – which is what we’d love to do.

“But he’s in the Kim Muir, and we might have a go.

“Then maybe, if he’s high enough rated, next year the National.”

Beau Bay, a bargain buy for the yard out of a Worcester claimer four years ago, has exceeded all expectations.

Newland added: “”He’s quite a small horse – but for whatever reason, he just loves the chasing.

“He tends to get a bit forgotten about in these races – people think he’s been around the block a bit, and is exposed.

“But he’s just in rude health. He’s an incredible horse – extraordinary. You can pay thousands and thousands, and you won’t get one as good as that.”

At £150,000, Patroclus was a little more expensive – but after Nicky Henderson’s five-year-old had doubled his career tally in his just his third race under rules, jockey Nico de Boinville was in no doubt he has potential.

Patroclus and Nico de Boinville were winners in the Virgin Bet EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle
Patroclus and Nico de Boinville were winners in the Virgin Bet EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle (Tim Goode/PA)

Following the evens favourite’s three-quarter-length success from market rival Riggs in the Virgin Bet EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle, he could chase a high-profile hat-trick if taking up next month’s Ballymore entry at Cheltenham.

A patient approach may be more likely, however.

De Boinville said: “He’s a smashing horse – a really solid National Hunt type.

“He probably got a bit lonely but stayed all the way, and I think he’ll want three miles in time.

“I wouldn’t know where we’re going to go after that, but he’s very much a long-term project.”

Chantry House back in business at Wetherby

Chantry House put himself “back on track” for the big spring festivals with a return to winning form in Wetherby’s Bet At racingtv.com Novices’ Chase.

Jockey Nico de Boinville could reflect on a retrieval mission successfully completed as last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle third put behind him a 14-length defeat on his second chase start at Cheltenham in December.

Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old jumped economically and well to land the odds as 4-5 favourite, by three-and-a-quarter lengths from Coconut Splash.

Chantry House led early in the straight and stayed on well, earning a new quote of 10-1 from Paddy Power for next month’s Marsh Novices’ Chase back at Cheltenham.

De Boinville was not about to pinpoint that target, or any others, but pronounced himself very satisfied after winning with his only mount on the card.

“I was happy with that,” he said.

“He’s put Cheltenham behind him there. He jumped well, despite the ground. You couldn’t really be asking for too many big jumps, because he wouldn’t last home then.

“(But) his jumping was very measured, I think.

“I don’t know what the plan is – we’ll leave that to connections and the boss.”

Chantry House was conceding 6lb to an undoubtedly useful runner-up, and De Boinville added: “I thought that was probably the one, coming into this race, we were going to have to beat.

“That was good – back on track. That was the most important thing after Cheltenham the last day.

“He’s jumped and travelled well, which is what we were hoping for.

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“I think he’ll be better on better ground as well.”

Kerry Lee does have a specific Cheltenham race in mind for Ballybegg after the 10-11 favourite’s determined victory in the opening Every Race Live On Racing TV Novices’ Hurdle.

Following her 100th winner in Britain, the Herefordshire trainer was kind enough to suggest the correct soundbite, too.

“It’s Ballybegg for the Ballymore!” she said.

The six-year-old, who led almost throughout and then battled back strongly when headed to beat expensive recruit Papa Tango Charly by a head, remains a general 66-1 shot for his only Cheltenham entry.

But Lee said: “I think we’ll have to seriously consider it – as long as there’s some cut in the ground.

“I’ve been in the job long enough now to think ‘Well, when you have an opportunity you should take it’.

“You don’t get many horses you can consider running in a Grade One.

“When you do, and they’ve won like that, why not?”

Ballybegg and jockey Richard Patrick were following up their wide-margin win at Hereford last month.

Dual course winner Storm Control is set to return to Cheltenham next month
Dual course winner Storm Control is set to return to Cheltenham next month (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Lee added: “It was a very nice performance – I don’t know how good he is.

“But the runner-up is a very decent horse on his day, and he clearly ran a very solid race.”

Lee is readying two more stable stars for Cheltenham, in Storm Control and Happy Diva.

“It’ll be Storm Control (Kim Muir), Happy Diva (Mares’ Chase) and this chap,” she said.

“I’ve only got 20 to run – so that’s not bad, is it? We like a bit of quality.”

Storm Control also has a Grand National entry – but well down the order after the publication of the Aintree weights on Tuesday, Lee is realistic about his prospects of making the cut.

“He is in the National, but I’m not sure he’ll get in,” she said

“I had a quick count down and thought ‘aah’.

“We’ll concentrate on Cheltenham.”

Lee and Patrick were denied a double when Umbrigado beat their Destined To Shine by two and a half lengths in the feature Sixt Car Hire Handicap Chase.

David Pipe’s novice, having just his third race over fences, was adding to last month’s victory at Fontwell under Tom Scudamore – and is another who may have Festival aspirations.

Scudamore said of the 7-2 winner: “That was really good. We always thought he would make into a nice chaser, and he’s beginning to do that.

“He saw that out well in tough conditions – he’s very versatile.

“He’ll improve for more experience.

“I imagine he’ll have entries at Cheltenham, but we’ll see – whether it’s Grand Annual or the two-and-a-half (Paddy Power Plate). It’s a shame that the two-and-a-half-mile novice isn’t there any more – that would have been the race for him.”

Nightboattoclyro and Robbie Dunne (leading) won the racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle at Wetherby
Nightboattoclyro and Robbie Dunne (leading) won the racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle at Wetherby (Tim Goode/PA)

Robbie Dunne made his first ride on Nightboattoclyro a winning one as Sam Drinkwater’s improving seven-year-old completed his hat-trick, up in grade for the racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle.

The well-backed 3-1 favourite collared front-runner West To The Bridge to prevail by almost two lengths, and Drinkwater said: “He’ll probably have one more run, then he’ll be a chaser next season.

“He won’t get in to Cheltenham, but there’s bound to be something for him at Aintree.”

West To The Bridge’s trainer Dan Skelton was successful with 9-2 shot Embole in the BoscaSports Racings Digital Display Handicap Hurdle – after which Jonathan England was suspended for 11 days for excessive use of the whip on runner-up Billy Ray.

Shishkin strikes Lightning gold

Shishkin delivered another supreme display in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster.

With Cheddleton a late absentee, only four went to post for the Grade Two and Nico de Boinville settled the 1-7 favourite in third.

Eldorado Allen and Est Illic set a decent tempo in the testing ground before Est Illic found it too much with half a mile to run.

De Boinville just had to niggle on the Nicky Henderson-trained market leader, but he joined Eldorado Allen at the fourth last and the race was soon over.

Shishkin’s jumping in the straight was perfect and he finished with his head in his chest, prevailing by eight and a half lengths.

Speaking from his Lambourn base, Henderson said: “It’s a no-win situation really. He had to do what he did otherwise everyone is disappointed, obviously he’s not going to run again now and he doesn’t need to.

“He was good and as far as I’m concerned, it was what we wanted.

“Nico said they went a good gallop, the ground was hard work but he jumped accurately.

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“It’s very nice for his lad, Jaydon Lee, who is in the final three of the newcomers section for the Godolphin Stable Staff Awards.

“They were trying to say on TV that he jumped left, he might have a bit, but when he goes right he jumps right. At least we know which way he’s jumping next time, all being well, now we’ve got to get there.

“We haven’t used this race before the Arkle with Sprinter Sacre and Altior, but we are very lucky to keep finding these seriously good horses.

“This lad won the Supreme, like Altior, but Sprinter was only third under Mr (Tony) McCoy, as he was at the time.

“He’s different to the other two in a lot of ways as he doesn’t tank through races, he’s very amenable, just as he is in his work. The other two were bruisers, they want every canter to be a gallop!

“It actually makes things a little easier with him as you press the button to go faster, but you can flick the switch off.

“As soon as he went upsides today, he breezed past and the second is not a bad horse, let’s be fair, but he waltzed past.

“You can’t do any more than he did and I can say I’m mighty relieved. I’ve just spoken to (owner) Joe Donnelley and he said he’d never been so nervous.

“We had little to gain today and everything to lose, but it’s over and hopefully he gets there in one piece.”

Nico de Boinville was thrilled with Shishkin
Nico de Boinville was thrilled with Shishkin (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Boinville added: “They tried to turn it into a test on that ground. It didn’t seem to faze Shishkin at all. He jumped and travelled.

“He was just slightly hanging left. He’s like that at home. Some days he can wake up and hang left, some days hang right. It’s just how he’s feeling. Some days he’s as straight as a die. Today he just went that way following the rail round.

“It doesn’t stop him or slow him down. It doesn’t bother him.

“I’m excited about him, the whole team are as well.

“We’re just delighted to get that out of the way. It gives us plenty of time to prep going to the Festival.

“Jonjo O’Neill flicked the button. He gave his horse (Eldorado Allen) a slap down the shoulder. It lit Shishkin up and off he went.

“He doesn’t waste any time in the air. He’s a very slick jumper. He almost hurdles his fences, which the best two milers do. The faster they went, the better he jumped.

“I think he’s got it all and he’s answered our calls. We’re excited and looking forward to what he can do.”

Edwardstone tees up Betfair Hurdle bid

Alan King has his sights set on Newbury with Edwardstone following his winning return to hurdling action at Market Rasen.

The seven-year-old was fifth in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November before switching to fences, where he unseated his rider in a novice event at Doncaster in December.

Back to the smaller obstacles at the Lincolnshire track, Gavin Sheehan’s mount ran out a comfortable five-length winner of the MansionBet Handicap Hurdle.

King was at Warwick, where he outlined plans for his even-money winner.

He said: “He will go to the Betfair (Hurdle) and he was always going to go there. He gets a penalty for that, but I needed to get a run into him as he has had no match practice this season.

“We were going to go chasing with him, but he only got to the fourth fence at Doncaster and I just felt I’d rather have a full season with him over fences so went back to training him for Newbury.

“I wanted to get a run into him and this race fitted in well before the Betfair. I do think he will be a very good chaser, but you would have ended up getting one run into him then going to Cheltenham and you can’t do that.

“I might run him over a fence in May when the freshness is out of him. He has always been potentially very good and he is settling better now.”

On The Blind Side has been a model of consistency
On The Blind Side has been a model of consistency (Tim Goode/PA)

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On The Blind Side’s fine season continued when he justified his position as short-priced favourite with a game victory in the MansionBet’s Bet 10 Get 10 Hurdle.

The Nicky Henderson-trained gelding was last seen finishing second to the highly-regarded McFabulous in the Grade Two Relkeel Hurdle at Kempton, his third run of a campaign that has seen him finish in the first two every time.

Jumping fluently throughout and travelling in the slipstream of the ever-popular Lil Rockerfeller, the nine-year-old was engaged in a shoulder-to-shoulder battle with the chestnut and eventually shook him off after the last to prevail by a neck under Nico de Boinville.

“He dug deep there, he was brilliant,” De Boinville said of the evens scorer.

“Fair play to the owners and the guv’nor for spinning him round so fast after last time.

“It’s great to see him showing a bit of consistency this season, well, a lot of consistency. The ground didn’t bother him at all.”

The race sadly saw the loss of 2018 County Hurdle winner Mohaayed, who had unseated Bridget Andrews at the fifth flight.

Harrison Beswick riding Eclair Mag
Harrison Beswick riding Eclair Mag (Tim Goode/PA)

Eclair Mag struck gold on his first start for trainer Richard Bandey when claiming the MansionBet’s Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap Chase at the massive starting price of 80-1.

The French import had one hurdles win and one chase win to his name for Vaumas-based Emmanuel Clayeux before joining the yard of Bandey earlier this month.

Taking up the lead over the penultimate fence having been towards the rear for much of the race, the seven-year-old was spring-heeled at the final fence to pull away from 5-2 favourite Mac Tottie and prevail by four and three-quarter lengths under 5lb claimer Harrison Beswick.

“Harrison said we should have him, he was at Emmanuel Clayeux’s, who Harrison was working for last summer,” Bandey said.

“We had no expectations coming over, we thought it might be too heavy, but he’s travelled well and he’s jumped like a stag. I can’t believe he’s done it that well, to be honest.

“We have thought we might look at the cross-country race at Cheltenham, but he might be too far up the handicap for that, we’ll see. For now we’ll just enjoy today.”

Connor Brace and Art Approval on their way to victory
Connor Brace and Art Approval on their way to victory (Tim Goode/PA)

Art Approval made light work of the MansionBet Watch and Bet Novices’ Hurdle for Fergal O’Brien and Connor Brace, looking worthy of his 4-11 favourite status when triumphing by seven lengths.

The victory was a first for the five-year-old, who joined O’Brien in July last year and has since been runner-up in two hurdle contests before finishing seventh at Cheltenham in November after making a late mistake.

“He’s done it very well,” Brace said of the performance.

“Once he hit the front he had a bit of a look as he’s never been in front before, but he had a nice trip and he jumped well, too.

“He’s a horse that seems to always run a little behind the bridle and because of the heavy ground he hit a flat spot there, but that aside he went very well.”

Fawsley Spirit (9-4 favourite) shed his 13-race maiden tag when grinding out a hard-fought triumph in the MansionBet Faller Insurance Handicap Hurdle for trainer Ben Pauling and jockey Luca Morgan.

The eight-year-old ran prominently throughout, seeing off a late challenge from Akarita Lights over the penultimate flight to pull away approaching the last and cross the line three and a quarter lengths ahead of his nearest rival.

Shishkin delivers decisive victory in Wayward Lad

Shishkin continued his winning run in the Ladbrokes Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton.

Nicky Henderson’s six-year-old, who overcame a troubled passage to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in March, made a faultless chasing debut at this track last month.

Stepped up in class for this Grade Two event, Shishkin faced decent rivals in Gumball, Tamaroc Du Mathan and Elusive Belle, with the first-named runner setting a strong gallop at the head of affairs.

Nico de Boinville briefly appeared to be pushing on Shishkin at one point, but he really stamped his authority on the contest on the turn for home.

Tamaroc Du Mathan still appeared to be travelling well, but in a matter of strides the race was over and Shishkin was spring-heeled at second-last fence.

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The 1-3 favourite ran out a 13-length winner, with Shishkin now an odds-on shot with some bookmakers for the Arkle at Cheltenham in March.

De Boinville said: “Dicky (Richard Johnson on Gumball) has gone a right gallop from the start and I was just quite happy to sit off that and get him jumping.

“It was a solid Grade One/Two pace, so it was going to find out any horse that wasn’t up to that standard. It was definitely (an improved performance) as we were going a stride quicker.

“He was a lot sharper coming into today as well, the team at home had him in great shape. The ground was testing enough today, whereas last time he was here it was good ground, so he is versatile ground-wise.

“Like all horses, he is probably better on a slightly better surface, but I think we can come away from that with the dream still alive.

“If something came to challenge me I would have probably found a few more gears, but that was great the way he did it today. I was just checking (between the last two) where they all were as I didn’t want to get caught on the line and look an idiot.

“He got me out of trouble at the last fence down the back as the sun was very low and we couldn’t see an awful lot.”

Shishkin flies the last on his way to another win
Shishkin flies the last on his way to another win (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

De Boinville has won the Champion Chase on Sprinter Sacre and Altior, but is not keen on comparisons.

“I don’t really like to compare top-class horses as they all come with their unique attributes,” he said.

“This horse is different in his jumping style and the way he goes through races. Altior, when he started off, was a different horse to the horse you see today.

“He is incredibly quick through the air, he is very quick to get his landing gear back down on the ground and then he is away, whereas other horses potentially stay longer in the air. He almost hurdles his fences.

“There is plenty more to come for sure. I’m sure we will try to get another run into him and then head towards the Festival, fingers crossed.”

Hughes believes ‘forgotten horse’ Waiting Patiently can make his mark in King George

Champion jockey Brian Hughes is hoping to “sneak in under the radar” with Waiting Patiently in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase.

Ruth Jefferson’s nine-year-old has not run since finishing third in the Tingle Creek last December and unseated in this race in 2018, but he is a Grade One winner in his own right and the lack of a recent outing is of no concern to Hughes.

He also has winning course form, and Hughes is taking encouragement from his Ascot Chase victory that he will see out the three-mile distance in the Boxing Day highlight at Kempton Park.

He told VBet: “It’s obviously a good race. There’s the likes of Cyrname and Clan Des Obeaux, who has won the last two King Georges, and lots of other very talented horses.

“But he’s in really good form at home. He hasn’t run since last December, but that’s never been a barrier for him before and he’s always done well after a long lay-off.

“I’ve had three away days with him and he’s schooled really well each time. Ruth is really happy with him and he’s as fit as you can physically get him at home.

“He’s always been the forgotten horse, probably because he’s not trained by a big southern yard but that suits us nicely as we can just sneak in there under the radar.

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“The big question is whether he’ll stay. I guess the fact is no one really knows, but he got two (miles) five (furlongs) at a track like Ascot so that has to give you confidence.

“Everything’s gone well and we’re hoping he can run a huge race.”

Santini should not be underestimated in the King George, says Nico de Boinville
Santini should not be underestimated in the King George, says Nico de Boinville (Tim Goode/PA)

Nico de Boinville warns it would be folly to “underestimate or write off” the chance of Santini.

While accepting Kempton would not be the ideal track for the eight-year-old, the Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up has a CV that merits plenty of respect.

And trainer Nicky Henderson’s decision to supplement him for £5,000 was the right thing to do, according to De Boinville.

“Obviously, it was a late call by the guv’nor as to whether we supplemented him, but it made complete sense,” the jockey told Unibet.

“We know this isn’t his ideal track, as we saw in the Kauto Star at this meeting a couple of seasons ago, but it is not as if he ran a shocker that day and he is the third-favourite in a King George and that tells you it is well worth a roll of the dice.

Nico de Boinville is looking forward to riding Santini in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase
Nico de Boinville is looking forward to riding Santini in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase (David Davies/PA)

“He also happens to be one of the best staying chasers in the country, as we saw in the Gold Cup in March, and I am sure the Aintree run last month will have done him the power of good.

“I obviously wasn’t riding him there, but he clearly ran a very solid race from which to build from. The top two in the market clearly have big claims – my slight preference would be for Cyrname – but if people write my horse off or underestimate him, then so be it.

“The form book says they shouldn’t, and any more rain will not harm his chances either, as that would clearly put the emphasis more on stamina.”

Sam Twiston-Davies won the race 12 months ago on Clan Des Obeaux from his Paul Nicholls-trained stablemate Cyrname and is just as thrilled to be involved again.

“It’s nice to be at Kempton, first and foremost, on Boxing Day,” he told William Hill Racing.

“Christmas is obviously great and then when you’ve got that at the back end of it, it just makes it even more exciting.

“I’m lucky being born in a racing family – once you’d got that Christmas lunch out of the way there was only one thing you were thinking about and that was the runners the next day and was dad (Nigel Twiston-Davies) going to have a winner.

“To then be jumping in the car when we were kids to go to Boxing Day, with Imperial Commander and stuff in the past.

“Now to go and ride a horse with a good chance is literally the stuff you dream about when you’re young.”

Mister Fisher prevails in Peterborough prize

Mister Fisher claimed top honours in the Fitzdares Club Loves The Peterborough Chase at Cheltenham.

Originally due to be run at Huntingdon last Sunday before that fixture was abandoned due to flooding, the Grade Two contest was swiftly rescheduled to form part of a bumper eight-race card in the Cotswolds.

Mister Fisher was a high-class novice over fences for Nicky Henderson last season – winning at Cheltenham and Doncaster before finishing fourth behind the top-class Irish trio of Samcro, Melon and Faugheen in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Festival.

The six-year-old was pulled up on his reappearance in last month’s Paddy Power Gold Cup, but showed his true colours on his return to Prestbury Park – travelling strongly to lead early in the home straight in the hands of Nico de Boinville.

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The heavily supported 5-2 favourite Kalashnikov – a late addition to the race after it was switched to a left-handed track – looked a huge threat after a flying leap at the final fence, but Mister Fisher (9-2) dug deep up the hill to see him off by a length and three-quarters.

Clondaw Castle was best of the rest in third.

After equalling Henrietta Knight’s record of eight Peterborough Chase victories, Henderson said: “That was good. It was a good race.

“When he ran in the Paddy Power, I think it was combination of his first run and very soft ground. This has turned out be harder work than I thought and softer than I hoped for. I’m not going to start talking about ground again, don’t you worry, that’s off the agenda this weekend!

“Well done everyone for getting this race put on again. This was the right race for him today as he was in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (on Saturday), but I think just being able to be up there and having a bit of daylight – he enjoyed it.

“They went a good gallop all the way. He jumped great. He is learning and he is a young horse on the up.”

Coral cut Mister Fisher to 14-1 from 25-1 for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham in March.

Henderson added: “Nico says the Ryanair is the race for him and I’ll go with that. He doesn’t want to go three miles. He says that is enough, so it looks like the Ryanair road.

“I’m not going to wrap him up and put him away as he will run again, but he will want to be nice and fresh as he wants a spring campaign rather than a winter campaign because of the ground.”

Song For Someone excels in Coral Hurdle

Song For Someone made every yard of the running to lift Grade Two honours in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot.

Nico de Boinville executed a perfectly-judged front-running ride aboard Tom Symonds’ charge to see off Call Me Lord and hot favourite Laurina with the minimum of fuss.

The five-year-old Song For Someone had been off the track since winning at Kempton in February, but De Boinville was eager to assume control from the off, with 11-8 favourite Laurina racing pretty keenly on her first start for Paul Nicholls.

She was first off the bridle turning for home and quickly dropped away as it turned into a straight duel between Song For Someone and Call Me Lord, who is trained by De Boinville’s boss, Nicky Henderson.

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However, Song For Someone (11-4) had plenty in reserve, kicking on after the last to win by five lengths.

Symonds said: “The way he won the Kingwell really sat with us and kept us going through lockdown. On that day we saw a different dynamic to him, as he won on a sharp track on good ground, which I didn’t think he would be able to do.

“Today he was quite fresh early on, Nico said. He came in quite early as we have had a few early targets, but the one I wanted to go for was this, as he had run so well here before on this ground. He loves this type of park track.

“His hurdling is brilliant. He is so technically accurate, it is a joy to watch. At home it is quite scary as you can’t school him slowly as he hits everything, but if you go flat out, that’s when you see him at his best.”

Symonds, a former assistant to Henderson, added: “I know Nico from the early days and I remember him leading me on Long Run round the bowl in Lambourn before his Gold Cup win.

“He just kept it very simple and the horse likes it simple like that, as he can keep going. He is a fabulous horse, he is so unassuming. I’m delighted for the team as they have been great.

“The plans are I don’t know what. It would not be my style to go for the Fighting Fifth as these races, no matter how easy it looks, take a lot out of the horses. I’m thinking you could look at the International Hurdle or the Christmas Hurdle, but the ground would need to be soft.”

Song For Someone earned quotes of 25-1 with Coral and 33-1 with Betfair for the Champion Hurdle in March, but Symonds said: “He is a really good horse, but whether he has the tactical speed for a Champion Hurdle, I don’t know. The one I thought he would have run well in is the one last season as it was real soft ground, but the track would suit him.

“It might be we go to the International Hurdle and have a go at that. He did win a Kingwell on good ground, but I don’t think Kempton is his track. It’s a lovely problem to have, but you just want to do right by the horse.”

Mrs Hyde bounces back to bag Listed prize

Mrs Hyde secured the most notable success of her career in the Racing TV Novices’ Hurdle – forming the middle leg of a treble for rider Nico de Boinville  at Kempton.

Having had her colours lowered over hurdles for the first time at Market Rasen on her most recent start, the Brian Ellison-trained seven year-old bounced back with victory in this Listed event.

Moving smartly into contention, Mrs Hyde showed an admirable attitude from the back of the last to defeat Fidelio Vallis by a length and three-quarters.

De Boinville said of the 15-2 shot: “She is very straightforward and very gutsy, and she has run all the way to the line.

“I had a word with Brian Ellison and Brian Hughes (who has ridden her in her last three starts).

“They said she was very tough and to just ride her as you find her and ride for a place – and then you never know what might happen.

“I wasn’t really confident until going to two out.”

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The Grade One-winning rider had to sit tight before getting his haul up and running aboard Overpriced Mixer, who attempted to run out at the last before going on to collect the opening Racing TV Juvenile Hurdle by half a length.

Winning trainer Nicky Henderson said of the 7-4 shot: “I don’t know why he did that at the last, because he had been out in front nearly all the way and he was doing everything nicely. Without that, he would have won fairly easily.

“He had been to Henrietta Knight’s to get him going – but he was slick there and he is a natural hurdler, so it is a good start.

“I think he wants to do something like that again [win a similar race] after that little blip. He wants to learn a bit more, before we do anything exciting.”

Sunrise Ruby makes it two from two this season with victory in the racintv.com Novices' Hurdle at Kempton (Alan Crowhurst/PA Images)
Sunrise Ruby makes it two from two this season with victory in the racingtv.com Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton (Alan Crowhurst/PA Images)

Sunrise Ruby completed De Boinville’s three-timer, and a double for Henderson, when backing up her recent Newton Abbot success by five and a half lengths in the racingtv.com Novices’ Hurdle.

Henderson said of the 1-2 favourite: “She should have won over hurdles last season – but she didn’t, and we are reaping the rewards now.

“Life is going to get more difficult now, because she will have a double penalty in novice races, so we may look at handicaps.

“She loves this ground, so we have to crack on whatever – you won’t be seeing her out in the winter.”

Fairway Freddy provided trainer Nick Giffiord with a timely boost – just days after stable star Theo’s Charm suffered a fatal heart attack on the gallops – with a two-and-a-half-length success in the Racing TV Novices’ Handicap Chase.

Remembering Theo’s Charm, Gifford said : “ He was a real favourite – we had him a long time, and he was a big softie really.

“It is a big loss, because he was such a character of a horse. It was very sombre at evening stables, and the next day everyone was down.

“They will all have been screaming this one home, so hopefully we can move on now.”

Fairway Freddy could be in line for a swift return to action, with Gifford considering giving the seven-year-old another outing at Hereford on Wednesday.

He added: “Most have mine have been running well first time out – but he just needed it, so I knew he would come on for the run.

“I just put him in at Hereford because he will love the ground. I know he can back it up, especially on better ground.

“I put him in more in hope than anything, but we will see how he comes out of it.”