A tilt at the Champion Hurdle looks to be on the cards for Tommy’s Oscar after he extended his winning streak to four at Haydock.
Handicap victories at this venue, Doncaster and Musselburgh had seen the seven-year-old’s mark rise from 138 to 156 – earning him a step up to Grade Two level for ‘The New One’ Unibet Hurdle.
The 4-7 favourite was given a cool ride by champion conditional Danny McMenamin, who was happy to sit several lengths behind last year’s winner Navajo Pass and Global Citizen for much of the way.
Ann Hamilton’s charge readily made up the ground in the home straight and was driven out after the final flight to beat the latter by five lengths.
Coral cut Tommy’s Oscar to 25-1 from 33-1 for the Champion Hurdle – and despite having doubts about the suitability of the undulating track at Cheltenham, connections will consider giving it a go.
Hamilton’s husband, Ian, said: “He couldn’t have done it any easier really. He was there to be shot at today, odds-on favourite, he had quite a bit to lose and not a lot to gain.
“He’s seven, his improving all the time. We bought him as three-mile chaser but he doesn’t stay, he’s a two-miler.
“I’m chuffed to bits with him. If someone will drive the box we’ll go (to Cheltenham)!
“The only thing is he’s been winning races here and at Musselburgh and they are flat tracks, Cheltenham is very undulating which will be different.
“I suppose we’ve got to give it a go.”
Ann Hamilton is of a similar mindset, adding: “The horses are very well this year, next year they might not be, things might go wrong, so we’ll probably have a go.
“It was quite a hard watch for a bit until they turned in from the bottom corner when Danny started to move up. He’s a lovely horse and he tries his best.
“If we’re going to go to Cheltenham this is the year to do it, when the horses are well.”
Minella Drama stamped his class on the Patrick Coyne Memorial Altcar Novices’ Chase.
Fifth in the Grade One Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown last month, Donald McCain’s charge was the 85-40 favourite as he stepped up top two and a half miles in the hands of Brian Hughes.
The seven-year-old moved smoothly to the lead early in the home straight – and while Hardy Du Seuil threatened to make a race of it, Minella Drama was nine and a half lengths too good.
McCain said: “I couldn’t believe he wasn’t favourite to begin with because we think he’s a genuine Grade One performer.
“It’s been a slow process with him because he’s wild, but Adrian (Lane, assistant trainer) rides him every day and has done a great job with him because he’s not easy.
“It was always the plan to come here, but we felt we had to run him over two miles a few times first to get the freshness out of him.
“Aintree has been discussed, but what before then I don’t know because he’s difficult to make plans for. Brian wants me to go to Ayr which comes first this year.”