Quel Destin continued his rise through the ranks with a battling success in the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Having run out a facile winner at Kempton last month, the Paul Nicholls-trained three-year-old took a step up to Grade Two company in his stride when getting the better of a late battle from the back of the last to defeat Cracker Factory by a length and a quarter.
The winner was introduced at 25-1 for the Triumph Hurdle with Coral, while Paddy Power and Betway went 20-1 and 16-1 respectively for the same race.
Nicholls said of the 100-30 scorer: “I was hopeful he would beat the Jane Williams horse (Montestrel), who beat him first time out at Chepstow), but I don’t think that horse has run it’s race at all.
“He improved enormously from Chepstow to Kempton and he has improved again from Kempton.
“He is a strong stayer and he jumped well. I always thought he had a good chance today, as if they went a bit quicker it would do him no harm.
“He will go to Doncaster next month (Grade Two Summit Juvenile Hurdle), then we will make a plan. We’ve got the Grade One at Chepstow as well and he wouldn’t mind the bottomless ground there, we know that wouldn’t be an issue. He will need a holiday at some point.”
A rematch on Town Moor with Cracker Factory could be on the cards, according to his trainer Alan King.
He said: “I was very pleased with him and there are no excuses. It was probably his best run yet. I thought going to the last he would probably win, but Paul’s horse just kept finding.
“I’ll probably keep him ticking over and go to Doncaster next month. If he doesn’t, he will have a break and be back in the spring.”
Ibis Du Rheu ended a lengthy spell in the doldrums with his first win over fences at the eighth attempt in the mallardjewellers.com Novices’ Chase.
Without a win since landing the 2016 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at the Festival, the seven-year-old set the record straight to complete a quick double for Nicholls – who won the race 12 months ago with Black Corton – and Harry Cobden.
The extended three-mile contest looked to be heading the way of long-time leader Theatre Territory, but having bided his time Cobden delivered the 11-2 shot with a winning run over the last before pulling out just enough to score by a length.
Nicholls said: “I never had him right last year for some reason, but he has improved. Today in the paddock I knew he was right.
“The ground was heavy last season, which he hated, and he is much better on better ground, he gallops all day on that and he was fit today.
“I said to John Hales (owner) that he will be a great horse to run in the four-miler at the Festival and one day he will be a National horse.
“We could enter him this year at Aintree, as it is his third season over fences. He is a horse we can have a lot of fun with now he is right.”
Alan King saw his decision to delay sending The Glancing Queen (16-1) over hurdles rewarded with victory on her debut under rules in the Listed Kamdean Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
King said: “I was not going to go down the bumper route as I had her entered over hurdles in the week at Exeter with Alsa Mix, who won the race, and I thought they can’t both run in it.
“I rang Charles Dingwall (part-owner) and said can I put her in the Listed bumper at Cheltenham on Saturday and that’s what I’ve done.
“We might think about the mares’ bumper at Sandown and Aintree later in the year. We might wait another season before going hurdling.”
First Assignment (6-4) could be in line for a swift return to action after following up his last-time-out course success in the Listed Regulatory Finance Solutions Handicap Hurdle, to initiate a double for trainer Ian Williams and jockey Tom O’Brien.
Williams said: “I don’t think it was the greatest Listed race at Cheltenham, but he couldn’t have done it any better than winning it by nine lengths.
“Sadly he is not the most robust horse and we will take him back and see how he is, but we are certainly not ruling out Haydock next weekend.”
Cesarewitch sixth Speedo Boy (4-1) completed the Williams and O’Briens brace when putting his race-fitness to good use to in the BetVictor Intermediate Handicap Hurdle.
Williams added: “He was a bit sketchy early on, but he travelled into the race really well. It’s a possibility (Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton), but he will take a short break as he has had a busy season on the Flat.”