Lisnagar Oscar in line for Bartlett bid at Cheltenham
All roads lead to the Cheltenham Festival for Lisnagar Oscar after he opened his account with a thrilling victory at Chepstow.
Trainer Rebecca Curtis went to £105,000 to secure the six-year-old following an Irish point-to-point success last March and he made his debut under rules at Chepstow in October, finishing third in a bumper.
He had since filled the runner-up spot twice over hurdles - most recently at Grade Two level at Cheltenham - and he was the 15/8 favourite to go one better in the Event Image Novices' Hurdle.
Ridden by Sean Bowen, Lisnagar Oscar travelled well for much of the two-and-a-half-mile journey and got the better of a pulsating duel with Nicky Henderson's newcomer Dickie Diver after the final flight to prevail by a head.
Curtis is eyeing a tilt at the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at Prestbury Park - a race she won with At Fishers Cross in 2013.
"He's a lovely horse and he was idling in front. I think it was a good performance," said the Newport-based trainer. "I hear Nicky really likes his horse and we were coming back in trip. He'll definitely be better when he steps back up to three miles, but this race came up and we thought we'd take a chance.
Now Mcginty (4/1) could also be Festival-bound after jumping his rivals silly in the Purple Pine Creative Novices' Chase.
Sent straight to the lead by Tom O'Brien, the eight-year-old produced some prodigious leaps and eventually pulled six lengths clear of De Rasher Counter.