Moore to play it safe despite megastar's stunning debut
Gary Moore will tread cautiously with the promising Megastar despite his smart bumper performer making a stylish winning hurdling debut at Ascot yesterday.
Moore took a leap of faith by running Megastar in last season's Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, in which he finished fifth behind Colin Tizzard's brilliant youngster Cue Card. Megastar then went on to beat Dare Me in the Aintree equivalent, and his seasonal return in yesterday's contest could not have been any more impressive.
A giant physical specimen, Megastar sauntered 16 lengths clear of the smart Flat performer Smokey Oakey. "That was exactly what I was hoping for," said Moore. "I didn't expect him to win quite as easily as he had a slight setback a month ago. Cue Card battered us at Cheltenham and I won't be in a rush to take him on again, that's for sure.
"I'd like to stay low key for another run and then maybe look at the Tolworth at Sandown. We won't kill him this season -- he's a chaser in the making."
Nicky Henderson's Aegean Dawn won so easily at Cheltenham last week that he was sent off at 4/11 favourite for the closing handicap hurdle, as he was unpenalised for his previous success.
The former charge of Robert and Sally Alner replicated that performance by toying with last season's classy juvenile Mille Chief. "To do Mille Chief for toe after the last, he must be pretty special," said jockey David Bass.
It was also smooth sailing for stablemate Master Of The Hall on his first try over fences in the novices' chase, though the 10/11 favourite and jockey Barry Geraghty were at cross-purposes at the last -- only just scrambling over.
Geraghty appeared en route to an easy win on 6/5 favourite Sprinter Sacre in the opening novices' hurdle, but Frascati Park had other ideas. The six-year-old was set some stiff tasks in his first season for Nigel Twiston-Davies but his team never lost faith and he kicked clear again after shaking off Sprinter Sacre.
Elsewhere, Matt Crawley produced a superb piece of horsemanship to win the mares maiden hurdle at Musselburgh on Lastroseofsummer. The 7lb claimer's saddle slipped round, meaning he had no irons for just about the final mile of the contest.
The partnership nearly came to an end down the back straight when Crawley ended up with both legs on the same side of the four-year-old, but the jockey not only remained on board by clinging to her neck, he set about trying to win the race.
While most pilots would have been content with just staying on board, Crawley moved into contention rounding the home turn.
And despite a hairy moment at the final flight, Rae Guest's filly ran out an easy two-and-a-quarter-length winner.