Hardy Eustace does it again

Hardy Eustace landed his second successive Coral Ascot Hurdle with a typically gutsy display that strongly suggests Father Time has yet to master the dual Champion Hurdle winner.

Hardy Eustace landed his second successive Coral Ascot Hurdle with a typically gutsy display that strongly suggests Father Time has yet to master the dual Champion Hurdle winner.

Trained by Dessie Hughes, the 10-year-old shook off 9-4 favourite Afsoun to win by half a length after the pair had engaged in a rousing tussle over the last two flights.

However, the gloss was taken off the popular gelding's victory when it transpired Detroit City had tragically suffered what proved to be a fatal fall at the second.

Ladbrokes and totesport cut Hardy Eustace to just 6-1 for the World Hurdle, and those two firms have gallant runner-up Afsoun at 20-1 and 12s respectively.

While Hardy Eustace was the undoubted star on the card, there were plenty of other potential Cheltenham Festival-bound runners on show.

Seven Is My Number took the concluding Tabac Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race in good style for the David Pipe/David Johnson combination, while Labelthou struck in the HBG Novices' Chase.

Emma Lavelle's mare proved pretty smart over timber and jumped well in the main on her fencing debut - although stiffer tests will be forthcoming after she finished alone in her own time to land odds of 1-3.

Few will have begrudged Liam Heard a high-profile win aboard Hoo La Baloo in the valuable Carey Group Handicap Chase after the youngster endured a torrid time of things just seven days ago.

Heard looked to be cruising home aboard Granit Jack in the Paddy Power Gold Cup before the Paul Nicholls-trained grey knuckled over at the second-last and failed to get to his feet.

He was never far away aboard Nicholls' 7-1 chance at Ascot and got the six-year-old home by two lengths from Magic Sky.

Gone To Lunch had earlier won his fourth successive race when landing the Pentagon Novices' Hurdle in grand style, before Arafan took advantage of bottom weight to score in the Touch Briefings Handicap Hurdle.

And while Alan King's My Way De Solzen finished well down the field in the feature Betfair Chase at Haydock, Howle Hill emerged victorious in the Amlin 1965 Chase to ensure the Barbury Castle handler had something to smile about.

The seven-year-old defied a 390-day absence to land odds of 12-1 in the Grade Two handicap, responding well to Jimmy McCarthy's urgings to repel the staying-on Fier Normand by a length.

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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