Brampour on target to stake Triumph claim
Brampour staked a claim for the JCB Triumph Hurdle when opening his account over jumps in a dramatic contest at Taunton yesterday.
Betfred trimmed Brampour to 10/1 from 14/1 for the Cheltenham contest, while Blue Square went 12/1 from 16s after his success in the Bravo Company 40 Commando Royal Marines Maiden Hurdle.
The four-year-old was a beaten favourite on his hurdles debut at Kempton last month, but he stepped up from that when getting off the mark here, although it was not quite plain sailing.
Always prominent in the hands of Harry Skelton, the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding had a definite lead after the second last and his task was made easier at the final flight. The second-placed Trop Fort, ridden by Tom Scudamore, fell and brought down Tony McCoy's mount, First In The Queue, which allowed the 2/1 shot to coast home 13 lengths clear of Clowance House.
There was more drama at the same flight when Conor O'Farrell was unseated from Arrayan with the race at his mercy in the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund Novices' Handicap Hurdle. David Pipe's gelding appeared to jump the obstacle safely, but O'Farrell had trouble with one of his irons, got unbalanced and went out the side door.
That left Highway Code (15/2), which was six lengths down after making a mistake at the penultimate flight, to land the spoils under 5lb claimer Giles Hawkins by three and a half lengths from Lidar.
Meanwhile, A Media Luz left Nicky Henderson stuck between a rock and a hard place after providing her trainer with the 1,999th winner of his career at Huntingdon yesterday. Rather than worrying when he would reach the notable 2,000-winner milestone, Henderson's concern was about the handicapper's reaction to the filly's effortless victory in Corona And Three Jolly Butchers Chatteris Fen Juvenile Hurdle.
Henderson believes A Media Luz would be more suited to the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices' Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham rather than the Triumph Hurdle, but he is eager to find out by how much her mark rises from a current 119 after beating Pantxoa by 18 lengths. Paddy Power make A Media Luz their 8/1 favourite for the Fred Winter.
Cork All Star continued the impressive start he has made since moving to the care of Jo Quinlan by taking the Huntingdon Audi A7 Open Hunters' Chase in fine style.
Cork All Star (8/11 favourite) never really got to grips with hurdles, but had already won two point-to-points after owner Cillian Ryan agreed he would be a nice ride for the Quinlan's son Joseph.
Jo Quinlan, wife of Newmarket trainer Noel, said: "I think the owners would like to go to Stratford and then the Punchestown Festival instead of Cheltenham."