Wilde About Oscar claimed a fourth victory over hurdles when taking the Burton Union Handicap Hurdle at Uttoxeter for Dan and Harry Skelton.
The six-year-old won on his hurdles debut at the track in October and was victorious again at Aintree before stepping up to Graded calibre when contesting Newbury’s Challow Novices’ Hurdle in late December.
A mistake at the seventh hurdle put paid to that plan as the gelding was pulled up, but a subsequent run at Exeter did produce Listed honours and the son of Oscar looked in fine fettle once again when winning by three-quarters of a length as the 9-5 favourite at the Midlands track.
“He’s a really honest little horse,” Harry Skelton said.
“His jumping has just got better and better with each run and he’s really progressed.
“He can definitely progress even further next season.”
Ask Me Early cruised to a comfortable victory in the three-mile 1834 Novices’ Handicap Chase after trainer Harry Fry vetoed a previously mooted run in the Midlands National itself.
The grey won on his debut over fences at Chepstow and followed up with a second victory at the same track in January, but a subsequent run at Sandown resulted in disappointment as the gelding was pulled up when never really travelling.
That performance was clearly forgotten at Uttoxeter as the seven-year-old ran with his previous zest and jumped fluently under Sean Bowen to record a two-and-a-quarter-length triumph.
“He’s been so progressive in his first two starts over fences, from the word go at Sandown he was never travelling or jumping with the same enthusiasm,” Fry explained.
“We got him home and he was very sore through his back and we diagnosed kissing spines, which we’ve treated.
“He roared right back to form today, he’s a real out-and-out galloper and jumps for fun.
“Truth be told, I was training him for the Midlands National today, but when we flopped at Sandown I thought I couldn’t aim that high.
“This is a lovely race for him and it’s great to see him bounce back to form, he’ll be a lovely second-season chaser to look forward to next season.”
Saint Dalina followed up a course-and-distance victory in December with another Uttoxeter success when taking the Marstons Brewery Handicap Hurdle for Charlie Longsdon and Tom Buckley.
Travelling fluently throughout, the mare was only challenged by Tim Vaughan’s Tight Call after clearing the final obstacle, but was able to hold on as the post approached to prevail by a neck.
“I’ve ridden her a few times and I really like her attitude,” Buckley said.
“She’s an out-and-out galloper and I can’t wait until she goes over fences – she’ll be even better then.
“To be fair to her, coming here today, the ground’s a bit quick for her, but she’s kept her head down, the cheekpieces have worked and she’s done it nicely.”
“She’s tough, she’s been a massive improver this season,” Longsdon said.
“I sort of aimed at this race thinking it was a lady riders’ race but obviously it got changed, but she’s gone and done it nicely.
“It was hard work, but she’s done a good job.”
Rosmuc Relay triumphed on his first run for Tom Lacey when a five-length winner of the 61 Deep Handicap Chase.
The nine-year-old was previously trained by Kim Bailey before switching stables earlier in the month, a move that has seemingly succeeded in revitalising the gelding.
A 16-1 chance, Rosmuc Relay took up the lead with a fence remaining and was able to shake off Richard Hobson’s Discko Des Plages to prevail.
“It’s freshened him up a bit,” said jockey Stan Sheppard.
“With how the race panned out, I wanted to make the running, but I was always happy just sitting where I was travelling.”
The Edgar Wallace (15-8) went one better than his recent runner-up spot when taking the DE14 Novices’ Hurdle by two lengths.
Trained by Kim Bailey and ridden by David Bass, the six-year-old took an early lead and made all of the running, holding on to prevail by two lengths despite the field closing in on him after the final turn.
Fergal O’Brien’s Onagatheringstorm finished second, with £620,000 purchase Interconnected a further length and a quarter behind in third.
“I knew from experience that round here on the hurdles course it was tight enough,” Bass said of his ride.
“I thought if I could wind him up and inject a bit of pace until he was there then he might get away from them.
“He is a good horse, he is, some of his bumper form is very good. There’s a lot to look forward to.”
Legendary Rhythm (17-2) lost her maiden tag when taking the Horninglow Mares’ Handicap Hurdle by a length and a half for trainer Tom Symonds.
Anthony Honeyball’s Kilbeg King then took the concluding two-mile Marstons Pedigree Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race under Aidan Coleman by an impressive seven and a half lengths.
“It was a nice performance,” Coleman said.
“Kilbeg King travelled nicely the whole way and picked up well when I asked him to.
“I sat on him a couple of weeks ago so I knew he was quite nice and the race worked out well. “