Richard Guest reached a half-century for the season when Move Over landed the Alan Thompson 75th Birthday Novices’ Handicap Chase at Catterick.
The 11-year-old, formerly trained in Ireland and having his first run for the Brancepeth-based handler, took up the running at the sixth fence in the extended three-mile test and made the rest of the running to score by five lengths.
Guest said of the 14-1 winner: “Before he came to us John (Flavin) used to ride the horse in Ireland and his owner kindly sent him over for him to ride here.
“The horse had a bit of a problem when he came to us, but he seems fine now and all we have done with him really is to lead the two-year-olds – and we took him to the beach at Redcar the other day and he galloped two miles each way.”
He went on: “Our horses were just turning the corner when the cold weather came in, so that came at the wrong time really, but it is nice to get to the 50 and we are going to work our two Cheltenham horses tomorrow morning.
“Admiral will run in the Champion Hurdle, we will get the best jockey available, and he will also go for the County Hurdle on the fourth day, John (Flavin) will ride him in that.
“Our Armageddon (winner of the Cathcart in 2004) will run in the Racing Post Plate on Thursday and I think both horses will be going there in good form.”
Nicky Richards was delighted to see Westgrove Berry (3-1) make a winning debut in the hands of conditional Ewan Williams in the Racing Post Mares’ Only Standard National Hunt Flat race with Cheltenham on the horizon.
He said: “We have not had a runner for two weeks or so, they were not just 100 per cent, but they have freshened up nicely and it is nice to have a winner.”
The Greystoke trainer is keen to run Monet’s Garden in the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy, and he went on: “I hope it is still raining down there, if the ground is on the easy side he will run, but if there is any doubt he won’t.
“He is in fantastic shape so we are hoping the ground will be right for him, but on the other hand we want some fast ground for Faasel in the Champion Hurdle!”
Ben Pollock, another looking forward to the Festival, broke new ground when Beau Torero, his first runner on the course, won the Racing Post – The Horses Mouth Selling Hurdle.
It was a dramatic victory too with conditional Tom Messenger bringing the 9-4 favourite with a sustained run to catch Toulouse Express in the last strides and score by a short head.
Pollock was represented by his wife Nicola, who retained the gelding without a bid and said with a smile: “Ben is hard at work at home and I was told to come up here!
“It took us three and a half hours to get up here, but it will seem a lot shorter going home.
“I ride both Beau Torero and A Glass In Thyne at home so I hope this is a good omen for A Glass In Thyne as he runs at Cheltenham on Tuesday and the ground is coming right for him.”
Tom Tate pulled a timely winner out of the bag when The Duke’s Speech, a winner last time at Ayr, doubled up in game fashion under Dominic Elsworth in the two-mile Racing Post – Official Cheltenham Paper Novices’ Hurdle.
The even-money favourite took up the running going to the penultimate flight and answered Elsworth’s calls to hold the renewed effort of Silver Dollars by half a length.
Tate was present with his brother-in-law Michael Dickinson, who will be heading to Cheltenham next week to receive an award in recognition of him sending out the first five in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The Tadcaster trainer said: “The owner has just rung me from Dubai and the weather is a bit better over there!
“We have been waiting for the ground with him, we tried to make him into a three-miler earlier in the season, he is a very lazy horse at home and there was no way we could see him being a two-miler.”
Merryvale Man (10-1) made virtually all the running to defy top weight in the Racing Post – The Horses Mouth Handicap Hurdle, but his conditional rider Brian Hughes was suspended for two days (March 19 and 20) for using his whip with excessive frequency.
The winner is owned, trained and was bred near Harrogate by Kariana Key, who said: “The ideal race for him was on Tuesday over two miles at Newcastle but the meeting was abandoned and we had to come here over a bit further.
“He is tough and I thought today might be his day when I saw a glint in his eye this morning.”
Persian Point, bought out of the Ann Duffield stable “about four years ago” won his first race under Rules for Sandy Forster in the Racing Post Select A Stable Maiden Chase.
Skew Whip winner of the hunter chase in the hands of Richard Wakeham will revert to point-to-pointing in two weeks’ time, according to trainer Charles Brader.