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Mount out of Festival count

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MOUNT Benbulben has suffered a setback that has ruled him out of the Cheltenham Festival.

Owner Barry Connell revealed the Gordon Elliott-trained nine-year-old, a Grade One novice chase winner at the Punchestown Festival last April, had sustained a splint bone fracture which may be enough to keep him out for the rest of the season.

Connections had considered supplementing Mount Benbulben for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, although he held entries in the Ryanair Chase and the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, before the injury surfaced.

"He has a fracture of his splint bone. It's not a major issue, but he'll be out of action for a little while," said Connell.

"It's too early to say if he'll run again this season. He's gone down to be examined. It's nothing too serious, he should definitely be back for next season anyway."

Red Seventy is set to be a regular in two-mile handicap hurdles after getting off the mark over jumps at Wincanton.

Three-times a winner on the Flat for trainers Richard Hannon and Harry Dunlop, the Terry Neill-owned five-year-old added to David Pipe's seasonal tally.

The 7/2 joint-favourite, ridden by Tom Scudamore, held off Dragon's Den by two lengths in the Bathwick Tyres Salisbury Handicap Hurdle.

"Tom managed to get him settled and he probably appreciated the better ground. Fair play to the horse, he's battled all the way up the home straight which on the Flat at times he hasn't done," Pipe said.

"This was an easier race. He's been taking on horses like Irving, Mountain King and Stand To Reason. I thought (a mark of) 117 was stiff enough, but they kept franking the form, so this looked an ideal race.

"We'll see what the handicapper does. He'll be in all the two-mile handicap hurdles, basically. He should do better when we get some summer ground."

Benbens (8/11) overcame jumping errors to justify favouritism in the Bathwick Tyres Bridgwater Handicap Chase.

PACESETTING

Leading before the last fence, Nigel Twiston-Davies' charge duly saw off Thomas Wild by two-and-a-quarter lengths with the pacesetting Yellow Ball last of the trio.

"All three of them were hairy down the back the last time, but I gave him time to get going again and he was really good when he needed to be," said Sam Twiston-Davies, sporting the colours of leading Champion Hurdle fancy The New One.

Gentleman Jon (7/1) was always prominent as he opened his account over jumps at the second attempt in the Bathwick Tyres Poole Maiden Hurdle.

Joe Tizzard had the six-year-old, trained by his father Colin, on the heels of the long-timer leader Warrior Conquest before going on at the second-last.

Gentleman Jon had to kept up to his work to hold the 5/2 favourite The Green Ogre by two lengths.

"He ran all right in the autumn, but he's a big baby and he wasn't quite right so I couldn't run him," said the trainer.

"He's only just coming right now. I thought he would need the run. He'll be ideal for chasing next year."

Amateur Gordon Treacy enjoyed his first success in the saddle on Martin Cash (11/2) in the Bathwick Tyres Terry Biddlecombe First And Last Handicap Chase.

The 7lb claimer sent Paul Henderson's charge to the front before the third-last and went on to score by four-and-a-half lengths.


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