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Tidal ready to take on world

A return to the smaller obstacles seems to have reignited the fire in Tidal Bay as he bounced right back to his best with a fantastic display in the Betfair Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The nine-year-old appeared destined for the top after a brilliant win in the 2008 Arkle Trophy but a winless streak stretching back well over a year suggested he had lost his way.

In a bid to change his fortunes, Johnson made the decision to switch his charge back to timber for the Cleeve, a race won in 2008 by his three-time World Hurdle hero Inglis Drever.

Johnson has not totally committed Tidal Bay to the staying title, for which the sponsors offer 10-1 from 40s, but he is certainly tempted after a five-length defeat of Time For Rupert.

The County Durham trainer said: "He's enjoyed himself today and we had to do something as I was getting knocked and the horse was getting knocked. No-one likes getting knocked.


"He'll be 10lb better if the ground dries up as he doesn't like dead ground and it was pretty dead out there.

"He's a quality horse. It's like with people, class always tells.

"Inglis Drever's not around and he's (Tidal Bay) a different horse, he's nine already.

"He's in the World Hurdle and I don't fancy going back chasing at the minute."

Restless Harry had Robin Dickin dreaming of Festival glory after outgunning General Miller and Royal Charm in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle.

The Challow Hurdle runner-up went one better under Henry Oliver when making every yard of the running and beating the previously unbeaten General Miller by eight lengths.

The Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle over three miles back here on March 18 is next on his agenda and he is a 6-1 chance with Paddy Power and Sky Bet.

"He'll be turned out with 14 others in a big field with a herd of fallow deer at Alscot Park and his next race will be the one before the Cheltenham Gold Cup back here in March (Albert Bartlett)," said Dickin.

There was another bold front-running display in the Betfair Trophy Handicap Chase as The Sawyer secured back-to-back successes by resisting the strong challenge of Private Be up the punishing hill.

Winning trainer Bob Buckler said: "He'd done very little since winning at Ascot last weekend and when I sat on him on Thursday he frightened the life out of me, so I knew I had to run him.

"Two miles and five furlongs is his preferable distance on a stiff, galloping track and the Topham would be a possibility."