Charm set for Cheltenham

Connections of Slew Charm are looking forward to a day out at the Cheltenham Festival with the four-year-old after he opened his account over hurdles at Market Rasen.

Noel Chance’s charge was given a patient ride by Tom Doyle to win the second division of the Justin Bounds’ Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle.

Hot favourite Bureaucrat was soon bowling along in the lead but the 4-6 shot began to tire in the straight and was collared on the run to the final flight by Slew Charm, who ran on to score by two and a half lengths.

“He’s not in the Triumph so maybe he’ll go for the handicap (Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle),” Chance said.

“He’ll probably get an advantageous mark now because he’s been placed in reasonable company and won this.

“So we’ll probably pop him in the Fred Winter and have a day out.”

Bureaucrat’s trainer Philip Hobbs and jockey Richard Johnson gained compensation when they combined to take the GBM UK Construction Novices’ Handicap Hurdle with Wild Chimes.

JCB Triumph Hurdle entry Jack The Giant made a pleasing start to his jumping career with a resounding victory the first division of the novices’ hurdle.

But it was not all plain sailing for Nicky Henderson’s runner as he was badly hampered and almost brought to a standstill at the first flight.

“We very nearly got wiped out at the first but we got away with it,” said jockey Mick Fitzgerald.

“He’s a grand type of horse, he jumped very well and will only improve.”

Viciana, second to the useful De Blanc on her debut over fences just six days ago, went one better with a fine display of jumping in the European Breeders’ Fund/Tattersalls Mares’ Only Novices’ Chase (Qualifier).

She was being strongly challenged by Lizzie Bathwick at the final fence but yet another fine leap from Lucy Wadham’s 4-5 favourite sealed the issue and Viciana held on by three-quarters of a length.

“It was a quick run back but we were tempted when we saw how the race was cutting up,” explained Mrs Wadham.

“From day one she’s been a wonderful jumper and she’s a mare that really likes a bit of time between her races so that was a gutsy performance.

“She’ll possibly have a month off now and then she might go for the final of this at Uttoxeter.”

Bougoure produced an impressive performance to romp home by seven lengths from French Envoy in the European Breeders Fund “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.

Trainer Sue Smith was represented by her husband, Harvey, who said: “He’s a nice horse. He’s taken a bit of time to come to himself and there’s the end result.

“There’s plenty to look forward to with him. He’s a three-mile chaser and that’s what we are looking for.”

Tony McCoy teamed up with his old boss, Martin Pipe, to win the Eric & Lucy Papworth Handicap Chase on Madison Du Berlais.

In-form jockey Steven Craine rode his first winner for Tim Easterby when he booted King’s Bounty home in the BBC Radio Lincolnshire Mike Molloy Memorial Handicap Chase.

The 5lb claimer was partnering his third winner in two days and is now on 19 for the season.

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