Suntini shines for surprised emma
Emma Lavelle's generosity was rewarded with an unlikely winner at Newbury.
The Andover trainer sponsored the Emma Lavelle Racing Handicap Hurdle, but victory was to come elsewhere on the card. Her Suntini was the outsider of three at 14/1 for the MC Seafoods Novices' Chase with Tataniano expected to be a certainty but although the 2/11 favourite made no tangible errors, he leaned noticeably to the right over many of the fences.
Ruby Walsh started to discover he could not shake off Jack Doyle and Suntini, who made a mistake at the last but rallied to get up by half a length close home. Lavelle said: "He has surprised us, but it's a nice surprise. I suppose the option now could be the Jewson, although Cheltenham is not the be-all and end-all.
"We'll find a novice chase over two and a half miles somewhere, and I'll have to bend the handicapper's ear."
Tataniano was Paul Nicholls' leading hope for the Arkle Trophy but the trainer reflected: "You can just put it down to the ground -- I should have run him at Doncaster instead but I wanted Ruby to ride.
"You just have to juggle things with Ruby. He doesn't want two miles and two furlongs and it is one of those things.
"Ruby said you couldn't go any faster because you're falling into the ground."
Nicholls' day failed to improve when his 7/4 favourite Aiteen Thirtythree failed to keep tabs on Adams Island (2/1) in the Rutland Antique Centre Bakewell Maiden Hurdle.
The winner is now undefeated in three starts for Rebecca Curtis.
Master Of The Hall joined an ever-expanding list of exciting Festival projects for Nicky Henderson with a clear-cut victory as the 5/4 favourite for the Berkshire Stand Bookshop National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle.
"He will go over two and a half now -- I am quite surprised he won like that over two miles giving weight away," said the trainer.
Lavelle's race went the way of the Nick Williams-trained Alfie Spinner (11/2), who pipped Majaales on the run-in, while there were no such worries for Qhilimar (100/30 favourite) after he was handed the Zenergi Handicap Chase by the blundering Freeze Up.
Henderson's Cucumber Run was made the 4/7 favourite on his debut in the Pashmina Uk bumper but Philip Hide helped fellow newcomer Dragon's Roost (9/1) quicken three and a half lengths clear.
Trainer Gary Moore said: "He's a very, very nice horse but it is a pleasant surprise as I think bumpers are the hardest races to work out. He will get an entry for the Champion Bumper but I might just keep him low-key."
English bookmakers William Hill offer 20/1 at this stage.