Patient approach pays off for Master Dee
Fergal O'Brien celebrated another big-race victory in what is becoming a season to savour as Master Dee claimed the Betdaq Handicap Chase at Kempton.
Having landed his first Grade One winner earlier in the campaign, the Naunton handler ticked another box on his CV as the nine-year-old prevailed by three and three-quarter lengths in the Grade Three contest under Barry Geraghty.
O'Brien said: "We could have gone to Ascot last week, but I'm lucky to have Jason (Maguire, racing manager) and Paul and Clare Rooney (owners) who have stuck by and got faith in me and gave me the confidence to wait and come here," said O'Brien.
"I was a little bit worried about the ground as they had the covers on and that can make it dead, but he has gone through it well. He was good and brave at the last two and Barry had plenty of horse underneath him and I was delighted with that.
"Possibly we will go to Aintree. Barry doesn't think Cheltenham will be his track and we never thought it would be. We will enjoy today - it is a big pot for us and it has been a fantastic season so far."
Alan King looks to have solid claims of winning a third JCB Triumph Hurdle after Redicean proved a cut above his rivals when maintaining his unbeaten record with a seven-length success in the Grade Two Betdaq #ChangingForTheBettor Adonis Juvenile Hurdle.
Ben Pauling was rewarded for his decision to pitch Global Citizen into Grade Two company following his impressive nine-length success in the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle.
A trip to Scotland could be next up for Cyrname (2-5 favourite) after he claimed his second Grade Two success at the track when initiating a treble for trainer Paul Nicholls with an 11-length victory in the Betdaq Now 2% Commission Pendil Novices' Chase.
Favorito Buck's (7-1) brought up a second winner for Nicholls when getting up by a neck in the extended two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase while Danny Kirwan (13-8 favourite) completed the hat-trick in the closing bumper.
Willie Mullins, meanwhile, is favouring a crack at the Irish Grand National with Bellshill after he made a victorious return to action in the At The Races Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse. The eight-year-old had been off the track since finishing a distant third in last year's RSA Chase at Cheltenham and despite having a bit to find at the weights in the Grade Three heat, he was still sent off the 8-13 favourite.
Partnered by David Mullins, Bellshill travelled well throughout the three-mile-one-furlong contest and was in control before the last, eventually coming home four and three-quarter lengths clear of A Genie In Abottle with Val De Ferbert third.
Bellshill's task was eased slightly by the withdrawal of Mala Beach, but Paddy Power were impressed enough to cut his Aintree Grand National odds to 14-1 from 25s but Mullins is currently looking towards the Irish equivalent back at this track on April 2.
"I'm looking more at the big handicaps with him," he said. "Coming back here to Fairyhouse might be the thing to do on a track that he's shown that he's really at home on. The Irish National is early this year and it might be the one."
Mitchouka is set to head to next month's Cheltenham Festival following his easy victory in the Grade Three Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle.
Gordon Elliott's runner was sent off the 4-9 favourite following a wide-margin win at the track last time and he prevailed in similarly easy style, coming home two and a quarter lengths clear
"He'll go for the Fred Winter now all being well," said Elliott. "He'll get to the last on the bridle but I don't know if he'll get up the hill, that would be the worry."
Padraig Roche saddled his first winner since taking over from his father, Christy, as Out Of The Loop won the Tommy Carberry Handicap Hurdle. The 32-year-old is now in charge at the Co Kildare yard and 6-1 shot Out Of The Loop delighted Roche as he ran out a five-and-a-half-length winner in the hands of Mark Walsh.
"That was great," he said. "Thanks to JP (McManus, owner) and Frank (Berry, racing manager) for giving me the opportunity in my first year. We've always thought he was a nice horse, even when Dad had him. He improved from every run and he seems to be filling out. I was delighted with him there. It's great to get the first one out of the way."
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