Ditcheat delight at Sandown treble

Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh continued where they left off in December with a 137-1 treble at Sandown.

Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh continued where they left off in December with a 137-1 treble at Sandown.

Chief among the pair’s achievements was the victory in the Anglo Irish Bank Tolworth Hurdle of Breedsbreeze, who carries the same Jim Lewis silks of the late Best Mate.

The three-time Gold Cup winner was second in the same race eight years ago, while Nicholls has now trained the Tolworth winner the last three times.

Sent off the 6-4 favourite on account of a defeat by handicap snip Ring The Boss, Breedsbreeze coped with the testing going better than his rivals and stayed on ahead of the determined Deep Purple, who ensured the official distance was only a length and three-quarters.

Nicholls elected to go to Wincanton but said: “Like last year’s winner, Silverburn, and Noland (2006), he is a stayer and has done really well to win.

“He is a different horse this year and had sore shins last winter.

“He will obviously have an entry in the Supreme and the Ballymore Properties, but unless it is testing he will run in the Ballymore as he really wants two and a half miles.”

Evan Williams was satisfied with the effort of the hitherto unbeaten Deep Purple.

“That was not his ground,” said the Welshman.

“He’s still run very well and will be entered in the Champion Hurdle, but the Supreme is the ideal race.”

Nicholls’ Master Minded (9-4), carrying the Kauto Star colours of Clive Smith, unseated on his British debut but jumped better in the Free £25 Bet partybets.com Handicap Chase.

He won tidily without setting the world on fire, with Walsh’s task made easier when Howle Hill made a dreadful blunder at the second-last.

Master Minded’s entry in the Ryanair Chase is his most likely Cheltenham Festival option.

Nicholls added: “He will now go to the Game Spirit Chase (at Newbury) so we can see how good we are.”

Despite Nicholls and Walsh’s fine form, Five Dream was returned a tasty 16-1 in the partybets.com Handicap Hurdle.

Nicholls continued: “He will probably dodge the Festival unless it is testing ground, and I think the Imperial Cup could be the race for him.”

Chomba Womba took the partybets.com Anne Boleyn Mares Only Hurdle very easily at odds of 1-5 and now looks set for the inaugural David Nicholson Mares Only Hurdle.

“That would be the logical race,” said trainer Nicky Henderson.

“We would have been thinking about chasing this season but these mares races have opened up quite beautifully.”

Squadron was another to justify a short price as he made a winning, if a shade workmanlike, debut at 6-4 in the Fraser Steele Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle.

Trainer Alan King has no grand plans for a gelding who was a reasonable stayer on the Flat.

More flashy was Howard Johnson’s Backbeat (28-1) in the partybets.com Handicap Chase.

It was no mean training performance to return from nearly 13 months off as he ran his rivals ragged under Denis O’Regan.

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