Mister Malarky is in with a chance of making Colin Tizzard’s Cheltenham Festival team sheet after carrying top weight to victory in the Mionetto Prosecco Handicap Chase at Newbury.
The lightly-raced six-year-old, an 11-4 favourite, took his tally to two out of three over fences when proving 13 lengths too strong for Carlos Du Fruitier in Wednesday’s feature – completing doubles for the Dorset trainer and jockey Harry Cobden.
Tizzard said: “We’ve seen things (from him) today that we haven’t seen before. He powered away like a real stayer.
“He is a relation to Dubacilla, and that’s why I bought him – she was a Gold Cup and Grand National horse.
“He has just developed into a proper stayer, so we will try to set him up for a race at Cheltenham.
“He will get in the handicaps at Cheltenham. He is bound to go up at least six or seven pounds for winning 13 lengths, so we can’t talk about anything less.
“We were only talking beforehand the dream was to have a Cheltenham runner – and he is a beautiful, young, staying horse.”
The Russian Doyen got the ball rolling for Tizzard and Cobden, back to form and pulling out plenty to take the Freixenet Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase by four lengths.
Tizzard said of the 5-6 winner: “He was never that fluent last time – and at the time we had horses either winning or pulling up.
“To be fair to him, when he shook him up after the last he soon scooted clear. He just looks likes he wants a couple more runs before we go after a big pot.”
Ar Mest set up a potential return to the track for next month’s Betfair Hurdle, after backing up his Leicester success when holding on by a half-a-length in the EBM Handicap Hurdle.
Winning trainer Gary Moore said of the 7-4 winner: “He was probably just running out of petrol at the end.
“He gets a 5lb penalty for that today – and whether he is good enough to get in that (Betfair Hurdle) I don’t know, but he would probably give it a shot if he did.”
Howling Milan was an emphatic first winner at the track for trainer Sam Drinkwater, running his rivals into the ground by 26 lengths in the Watch Racing TV With Free Trial Now Novices’ Hurdle.
Drinkwater said of the 5-1 winner: “He is a nice horse. When I first had him he always worked really well.
“We’ve not got very good ones to work him against – but he blew everything away, then he got sick. That was the first time he has put his head down and galloped to the line.
“I was very soft on him for his first two runs, because I wanted to get him on the track. You have seen the real horse today.”
Jeremy Scott enjoyed a successful reconnaissance mission with Our Dot’s Baby (5-1) as the seven-year-old prevailed by a length and a half in the British EBF Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
Scott said: “She has been really frustrating. When they are properly racing she has not quite got as much scope as a lot of them – and she just maybe gets a bit brave.
“The Grade Two mares’ novice race here was a plan, and that was kind of what pointed me here today to try get her qualified. If we get the ground the same as today then it should be ideal.”