Aintree is on the agenda for the Philip Hobbs-trained Lord Henry after his all-the-way romp in the Berkshire Life Novices’ Chase at Ascot.
A wide-margin winner of his only previous race over larger obstacles at Hereford last June, the 6-4 chance had been readied for this with a run in the County Hurdle, in which he finished down the field.
Backers of uneasy market leader Royal Shakespeare knew they were in trouble when he was ridden rounding the home turn.
By contrast, Richard Johnson pulled further clear on Lord Henry to score by seven lengths.
Sarah Hobbs, wife of the winning trainer, arrived back from a skiing trip in Maribel on Thursday night in time to saddle the gelding and said: “He can go a bit lame on us after his races but if he’s alright he’ll go to Aintree.
“His style of racing will be suited to that flat track.”
Mick Fitzgerald partnered what could be one of his last Ascot winners when Shouldhavehadthat made short work of his rivals in the Carraig Insurance Maiden Hurdle.
Fitzgerald, due to retire at the end of the season, will not have ridden many smoother scorers at the Berkshire venue than Nicky Henderson’s charge, who toyed with his rivals in the Carraig Insurance Maiden Hurdle.
The 7-4 favourite moved stylishly behind early pacesetter King Louis and quickly opened up when Fitzgerald gave him the office between the last two flights.
Shouldhavehadthat then came right away to score by five lengths from Scotland Yard.
“The one thing he does is jump and I can’t wait to put him over fences,” said Henderson.
“He’s another baby for next year and he’s very nice. We might just try to find one more for him over hurdles.”
Jonjo O’Neill will map out a summer jumping campaign for Inaro following his neck verdict over Ballyfinney in the Thames Hospicecare 2007 Appeal Novices’ Handicap Chase.
The six-year-old battled home in good style under Richard McGrath – even though the gelding’s movements are restricted by a breathing ailment.
O’Neill explained: “He’s won on heavy but the fact is he struggles for breath on that ground.
“The better going helped him and Richard gave him a great ride.”
Another possible for Aintree is Mendo, who survived a scare before landing the odds for Noel Chance and Tom Doyle in the Camra Colin Lanham Memorial “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
The 8-13 favourite had three lengths to make up on Modicum approaching the last but wore him down on the run-in to score by half a length.
Chance said: “I knew he would stay as he wants further.
“Now it will be the two-and-a-half-mile novice at Liverpool or a race at Punchestown.”
Emma Lavelle has her team in great order and put another winner on the board courtesy of 3-1 favourite Stern, who proved five lengths too strong for Mr Boo in the Peter Feltham Lifetime In Racing Handicap Chase.
David Arbuthnot also kept up his winning streak when Present Glory (8-1) returned from more than a year off the track to earn Doyle a double in the Visit South East England Handicap Hurdle.