Nico de Boinville already has an enviable book of rides at the Cheltenham Festival and Whatswrongwithyou added his name to that list after taking the NetBet Josh Gifford Memorial Novices’ Chase at Fontwell Park.
With the likes of Altior, Santini and Might Bite to look forward to, the Grade One-winning rider is likely to have their Nicky Henderson-trained stablemate among his arsenal following a decisive 17-length triumph in the two-and-a-quarter-mile contest.
De Boinville said: “He has got his quirks and we all know that. Ideally I would have left it as late as I could. It turned into a bit of a messy race and we had to make do with what we got.
“The Grand Annual is the plan, but he needs to go up a few pounds to do that. He is one that seems to appreciate a strong pace to come off, as timing is key with him. I wouldn’t mind a bit of rain as well.”
Paddy Power left Henderson’s charge unchanged as the 8-1 favourite for the Grand Annual.
By his own admission jockey David Maxwell’s record in the Foxhunter Chase is less than inspiring – but that could be about to change with Shantou Flyer (10-11) securing his Cheltenham ticket with a facile success in the Netbet Open Hunters’ Chase.
Maxwell, who also owns the Richard Hobson-trained nine year-old, said after his 35-length success: “He will go to Cheltenham now. My record in the Foxhunter is awful. I’ve never even got in the frame. It will be fun and I think he is a better horse round Cheltenham.
“He has done very well. He probably needed a bit of company from a circuit to go. He is not the easiest of rides, as he is a bit of a thinker. It puts my fitness to the test.”
Hugos Other Horse may have a way to go to reach the heights of his half-brother Cue Card, but he now has one thing in common with the multiple Grade One winner after claiming a victory at the Sussex track in the NetBet Betmaker Maiden Open National Hunt Flat Race.
Winning trainer Paul Nicholls said of his 9-4 scorer: “He was very green when he ran in a bumper on Boxing Day, but he stayed on well. He was still a bit green when he hit the front today.
“He toughed it out well and will make a nice staying novice hurdler next season. I might give him one more run, but it will be nothing fancy.”
There was further success for 10-times champion Nicholls earlier on the card after Ostuni (4-1) struck at the sixth time of asking in the NetBet Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap Hurdle.
Kerry Lee hopes the ‘for sale’ sign around the neck of Kings Monarch will turn into a ‘sold’ one after he opened his account over fences when defeating Fight Commander by 21 lengths in the “Guido James Zammi” Handicap Chase.
Lee, who also owns the 11-1 victor, said: “He ran over two miles over fences first time, then just short of three miles last time.
“Two-miles-five on good ground seems to have worked. He took a while to warm up, but he ran out a nice winner in the end.
“He is very much up for sale. He will be up on my website and there will be pictures all over my Twitter page.”