Connections mull Drever future

Inglis Drever could be retired rather than attempt another Cheltenham Festival success after landing a famous third victory in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

Inglis Drever could be retired rather than attempt another Cheltenham Festival success after landing a famous third victory in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

Trainer Howard Johnson is considering calling time on the Graham Wylie-owned nine-year-old’s career after the 11-8 favourite stormed up the hill under Denis O’Regan to deny Kasbah Bliss by a length.

Winner in 2005 and again last year, Inglis Drever was made to pull out all of the stops on the dash to the line but would not be denied.

“He loves coming up hills,” said Johnson.

“He’s a little terrier. I have trained some good horses, but I would say he is number one.”

Inglis Drever is a 5-2 chance with Ladbrokes for a fourth triumph next year if he is kept in training.

“I don’t want anything to happen to him, but if he has a chance in the Order of Merit for the best hurdler then I might take him to Aintree if it is good to soft ground,” said Johnson.

“If not I will turn him out and have a word with Mr Wylie and talk about retiring him. But if he ran again next season he’d only have the three runs.”

Wylie said: “I will leave any retirement decision to Howard as he knows the horse better than anyone. If he wants to retire him then that is what we will do.”

Master Minded appears set to dominate the two-mile division as he barely broke sweat with an incredible victory in the Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Representing the same connections as Kauto Star – owner Clive Smith, trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Ruby Walsh – the five-year-old crushed the reigning champion Voy Por Ustedes by 19 lengths.

“I don’t know what to say – that was awesome,” said Nicholls of the 3-1 winner.

“I said to Ruby I had a feeling he was a good as Azertyuiop who won this race for us in 2004.”

Our Vic made it third time lucky in the Ryanair Chase as David Pipe’s 10-year-old laid his Festival hoodoo to rest.

On his fourth appearance at the showpiece meeting, and his third in the Ryanair race itself, the David Johnson-owned chaser finally landed the Grade One victory his consistent efforts have deserved.

“We’ve had him for a long time and he’s deserved to win a race at the Cheltenham Festival,” said Pipe.

The Mullins family have a great tradition in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper but this year it meant more than ever.

Father Willie provided his son Patrick with an emotional victory on Cousin Vinny (12-1), despite Walsh apparently being on the better-fancied stablemate Apt Approach.

“This is an emotional moment for me and without doubt my best ever winner at the Festival,” said Mullins senior.

Tony McCoy’s supporters were in clover as the champion jockey had his first winner since returning from injury as Jonjo O’Neill’s Albertas Run outclassed his rivals in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase.

“I’m delighted for the trainer. Jonjo always produces the winners come Cheltenham,” said McCoy.

Albertas Run (4-1 favourite) won in the colours of Trevor Hemmings who had a double when Old Benny (9-1) claimed the Peter O’Sullevan National Hunt Chase.

Sue Smith broke her Festival duck when the veteran Mister McGoldrick (66-1) won the Racing Post Plate, while Tom Taaffe made up for the disappointment of Kicking King missing the meeting when Finger On the Pulse (9-1) held on to win the Jewson Novices’ Handicap.

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