Halleys hail their Outlaw Pete
Cheltenham's latest cross-country race proved a family affair again, but not for the trainer and jockey combination many were expecting.
Uncle Junior started 11/4 favourite for Willie and Patrick Mullins, but the market leader came acropper inside the final mile and it was a different father and son team – trainer John and jockey Josh Halley – who emerged triumphant with Outlaw Pete.
The JP McManus-owned gelding was trained by Enda Bolger until this year, but now represents the Halleys, who were delighted as the well-backed 7/2 shot scored by seven lengths from fellow raider Bostons Angel.
Halley Jnr, a practical design student at the University of Limerick, claimed a handy 7lb from Outlaw Pete's back, while his father is primarily a vet in County Tipperary, with Coolmore among his clients.
John Halley said: "Other fellas play golf for fun, we do point-to-pointing. This is the only track, isn't it? It's wonderful to have a winner here and we're very grateful to JP.
"He ran well here at the last meeting (third) and he loved the track and conditions. Conditions won't be the same in March, but God willing, we'll be back."
Jessica Harrington was delighted with the display of Bostons Angel, which has lost his way over conventional fences since winning the 2011 RSA Chase, and said: "He's had problems, but this gave him a new lease of life. Hopefully, he'll be back in March."
Another winner in McManus' green and gold silks came later on when Tony McCoy helped 11/4 favourite At Fishers Cross achieve a quick hat-trick in the Citipost Handicap Hurdle.
The ground certainly separated the wheat from the chaff, but they do not come much tougher than Master Overseer, which secured the second valuable prize of his career in the Grade Three Majordomo Hospitality Handicap Chase.
A winner of one of the calendar's most demanding races earlier this year – Uttoxeter's Midlands National – he showed all the right qualities for Tom Scudamore to fight back past Quartz de Thaix on the run-in.
Paul Nicholls was pondering a shot at February's Betfair Hurdle at Newbury after Dark Lover skipped 16 lengths clear in the two-mile handicap hurdle in the hands of Ruby Walsh.
The 9/2 favourite won on his return from a lay-off at the October fixture before finishing in mid-division in the Grade Three at the Open meeting.
Donald McCain recorded his first win at the track outside the Fesival meeting when Jason Maguire drove Super Duty 13 lengths clear their rivals in the Shloer Novices' Chase.