Whisky enters Supreme frame
Oscar Whisky emerged as one of the leading British challengers to Dunguib as he got Nicky Henderson's show back on the road in the Kylmar Novices' Hurdle at Sandown.
The trainer was back down the south of England after Zaynar's Kelso failure on Thursday and Oscar Whisky got the Cheltenham juices flowing again by staking his Supreme Novices' claim.
Owned by Ffos Las supremo Dai Walters, the five-year-old marked himself down as above average when winning on his Newbury debut and he confirmed that promise with infinite ease.
Although Cois Farraig finished a two-length second, the pair were some 20 lengths clear and Barry Geraghty sat as quiet as a mouse crossing the line aboard the 4/11 favourite.
Coral cut Oscar Whisky to 12/1 from 20s for the Supreme, with Victor Chandler going 14s and totesport, William Hill and Paddy Power unchanged at 16s.
Henderson said: "He will go for the Supreme next and he is an out-and-out two-miler. I spoke to Philip Hobbs and he said he was taking Menorah to Ascot tomorrow. The pair look like the best of the British so there seemed no point taking each other on until Cheltenham."
Open Day is another heading to Cheltenham next month for the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices' Handicap Hurdle after notching consecutive wins under champion jockey Tony McCoy.
There were clues a big run may have been on the cards thanks to the presence of his owner JP McManus, and the recent Market Rasen winner was backed from 6s into 4/1 favouritism for the Finmeccanica Battlespace Solutions Juvenile Novices' Hurdle.
He jumped the final flight in unison with a trio of rivals, but his stamina came into play up the run-in and Jonjo O'Neill's runner struck by four lengths.
O'Neill said: "You'd have to be pleased with that. The Coral Cup was an option but he is probably too young for that and I imagine he will head for the Fred Winter Hurdle." McManus and McCoy teamed up to complete a 10/1 double as Philip Hobbs' Qaspal was turned out seven days after his facile Kempton success to land the Eads Novices' Handicap Hurdle as the 5/4 favourite.
Robert Thornton returned to the winner's enclosure for the first time in 24 days as Wind Instrument hit the right notes in the gruelling three-mile Chemring Group Handicap Chase.
Alan King's retained jockey had been sidelined with a back injury and had been out of luck since returning to the saddle on February 8.
However, he got back in the winning groove as Wind Instrument (12/1) recovered from a less-than-polished leap at the second last to peg back Maktu for a neck success. King said: "That is great for 'Choc' and it is good to see him back."