Ramses De Teillee booked his ticket to the Cheltenham Festival with a typically determined display in the Albert Bartlett Prestige Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock.
David Pipe decided to send the admirable staying chaser back over the smaller obstacles earlier this season and it has proved a masterstroke, with his third win from as many hurdling starts this term.
Sent off the 5-6 favourite to complete his hat-trick for the campaign in the gathering gloom on Merseyside, Ramses De Teillee was on the front end for the duration of the extended three-mile contest.
The strong-travelling Kalooki joined him for the lead in the straight, but Ramses De Teillee dug deep for David Noonan in the testing terrain to win by four lengths.
Pipe’s charge will now be aimed at the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham, while a potential return to fences for a second tilt at the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree is not being ruled out.
Part-owner John White said: “He has a lot of stamina and it kicked in at the end of the race.
“He’s such a versatile horse – that’s what I love about him. We’ll take each race as we go, but I suppose logically the Albert Bartlett is probably next, especially if it came up a bit soft. He would have a reasonable each-way chance.
“He ran in the Grand National last year and the reins broke, which was unfortunate, and he’s a more complete horse now than he was then.”
Pipe, who was at Ascot, added: “He has always been talented, but his wind has always been a bit of an issue. He had his palate cauterised and he has thrived.
“He is a pleasure to have in the yard. He is enthusiastic and loves going about his work and his racing. He loves soft ground but he goes on better ground as well. You have to say he is getting better with age but he is only eight.
“I think you probably have to look at the Albert Bartlett as he stays he jumps and can handle a big race, so there are no negatives. I think we probably have to go there.
“It was a good performance at Doncaster and I said to the owners he has to back it up today and he has.”
Sir Psycho provided Paul Nicholls with a third win in the last five runnings of the Unibet Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle.
Prolific French raider Rockadenn loomed up looking a big threat in the home straight, but even-money favourite Sir Psycho was quick and accurate over the final two flights under Bryony Frost and pulled eight and a half lengths clear on the run-in.
Speaking from Ascot, Nicholls said: “He was awesome. I think he has improved enough now to run in the Triumph Hurdle, if the ground is soft.
“We will see what the handicapper does as he is in both races (Triumph and Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle).
“He is improving rapidly and is an interesting horse going forwards – I think there is a lot to come.”
Nicholls enjoyed a second winner on the card as 4-1 shot Alcala got the better of odds-on favourite Wishing And Hoping in the Unibet Walrus Open Hunters’ Chase.
A slick round of jumping helped Caribean Boy reverse recent form with The Big Bite in the 3 Uniboosts Per Day At Unibet Chase.
Tom George’s The Big Bite had Nicky Henderson’s Caribean Boy nine and a half lengths back in third when victorious at Doncaster last month, but that was the latter’s British debut and first competitive appearance since running at Auteuil the spring of 2018.
Clearly much straighter for the rematch, 7-1 shot Caribean Boy jumped impeccably from the front under James Bowen and was five lengths clear of 3-1 joint-favourite The Big Bite at the line.
Bowen said: “He was very good. He was a bit lairy out in front, but he jumped well.
“He had to turn the form around with The Big Bite, but he had been off for a long time before his last run and finished quite weakly.
“He ran to the line today and did it well.”
Henderson doubled up in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle, with Welsh Saint justifying 9-4 favouritism under Jerry McGrath.
The fall of Portrush Ted two flights from the finish made the market leader’s task a little easier, but he displayed a willing attitude to fend off Silva Eclipse by a length and a quarter.
McGrath said: “He was good. He was rated 134 before today and he needed to run well today to guarantee himself a position at Cheltenham (in the Pertemps Final) – and after today’s performance he’d warrant it.”