Midlands trainer Alex Hales hasn’t had a runner at the Cheltenham Festival for ten years, but he warmed up for his return to the Cotswold this week by sending out a winner at Market Rasen Racecourse.
Florrie Knox landed the Six Nations Rugby Betting At 188Bet Novices’ Hurdle at odds of 11-8 under jockey Harry Bannister in sunshine at the Lincolnshire track.
Another trainer with an eye on Cheltenham is Ben Case and he saddled the first winner on Sunday afternoon – the 6-4 joint favourite First Drift in the 188Bet Cheltenham Festival Preview Evening “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
Favourite backers had to wait until the finale for another market leader to go in. That was 4-6 odds-on shot Calipso Collonges for trainer Olly Murphy in the Live Casino At 188Bet Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
Trainer Dr Richard Newland is a big supporter of the racecourse and he was responsible for Aaron Lad, a 13-2 fancy, taking the 188Bet Faller Refunds At Cheltenham Thursday Handicap Hurdle under top northern jockey Brian Hughes.
Other winners during the afternoon when stamina was a valuable asset, with the going officially ‘soft, heavy in places’, were 3-1 chance Roxyfet, Shanty Town at 6-1 and Bridane Rebel at 11-2.