Rocco in Cheltenham mix following Warwick success

Impressive Tizzard five-year-old one to note for Albert Bartlett.

  • Friday 21 February
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Lieutenant Rocco added his name to an already-enviable team set to represent Colin Tizzard at next month’s Cheltenham Festival after maintaining his unbeaten record under rules at Warwick.

A step up to Grade One company to contest the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle could be on the cards for the five-year-old following his impressive victory in the British Stallion Studs EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.

The 7-4 second-favourite barely had to get out of second gear to defeat recent Sandown scorer Stick With Bill by nine lengths, adding to victory at Chepstow last month.

Tizzard, speaking away from the track, said: “It was quite interesting at the second-last to see Robbie (Power) get stuck into him for five strides and see what was under the bonnet.

“Robbie thought he was just a galloper at Chepstow last time, that’s why he is only in the Albert Bartlett and I’m sure he will go there. He is just a lovely, powerful horse – he’s big and strong and looked awesome.

“Nothing can really get him off the bridle at home. We have had a few horses like that, being morning wonders and not so good on the track, but he is showing us on the track what we see in the morning.

“It is going to need a little bit of sorting out with these novices as to which goes for what race at Cheltenham, but if we have to run more than one in a race we will, as they are championship races.”

Emmas Joy (7-4) made it third time lucky at Grade Two level with a hard-fought success under Harry Skelton in the rearranged Jumping For Joy On Racing TV Jane Seymour Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

Winning trainer Dan Skelton said: “It was hard work in that ground and fair play to the mare, she kept going.

“This two-mile-three trip is her maximum and she would be better at two miles, where she can be more aggressive, as that is her run style, she likes to put it all out there.

“I’m delighted with her and that is about as important as it gets.”

Go Steady (9-4) got the ball rolling for the Skelton team when carrying top-weight to victory in the Novices’ Handicap Chase.

The Alcester handler said: “He looks like he is going up in the lower grades. Every horse deserves its day in the right class. I don’t think you will hear about him at bigger meetings, but fair play to him as he is winning races.”

Midnight Tune (7-4) bounced back from pulling up in last month’s Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock with a tenacious front-running success in the Watch Irish Racing On RacingTV Mares’ Handicap Chase.

Trainer Anthony Honeyball said: “She has been a great servant and that is her seventh win for us.

“The Peter Marsh was her Gold Cup and I thought she would keep on galloping into a place that day, but that was great today. We put the cheekpieces on, but I’m not sure how much they helped.

“I’ve entered her in the Midlands National, but she is more likely to run in a £40,000 novice handicap chase there the same day.”

Grand Roi had little trouble in backing up a win at Fakenham with a 13-length triumph in the Racing Post Juvenile Hurdle.

Winning rider Nico de Boinville said of the Nicky Henderson-trained 1-2 chance: “He has probably done better than expected there.

“I wasn’t sure whether if he would handle this ground, but he absolutely powered through it. He is a nice horse going forward.”

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