Noel Chance is in no rush for Aux Le Bahnn to take on star novice hurdler Diamond Harry but a rise to Graded level is in order for his gelding following a simple victory at Folkestone.
Winners on the big occasion have been rare for the affable Lambourn trainer since the Gold Cup triumphs of Looks Like Trouble and Mr Mulligan and further progress will be required for the eight-year-old to figure at the Cheltenham Festival.
Aux Le Bahnn (evens favourite) was easy to back on the course for the Nigel Collison Fuels Novices’ Hurdle but while he needed consistent attention from jockey Richard Johnson, he held Bally Sands by a comfortable two and three-quarter lengths.
“He might go for the River Don at Doncaster,” said Chance.
“I heard Diamond Harry is going to Cheltenham at the end of this month and I don’t want to be running against him now.
“He did it nicely but we expected him to do that as he was 20lb ahead of the field. He works like a good horse but he has had a leg and other problems.”
The Coral Cup is another Cheltenham race under consideration and Chance added: “We’ll see how he’s handicapped. There’s Diamond Harry and good Irish novices around so he’d have to go well in the River Don to consider the Ballymore.”
Charlie Mann’s classy Air Force One took the S G Fencing Tel: 01303 862517 Beginners’ Chase a year ago, which leaves the 2009 winner a lot to live up to.
A handful had considerable form over hurdles and it ended up with the Carl Llewellyn-trained Hennessy (4-1) grinding out a two and a quarter length victory over Mann’s Fair Point and Philip Hobbs’ Tamadot.
Owner Malcolm Denmark reported: “A lot of the horses have not been running well so we took our time with him.
“I expect he will run again in three weeks and we hope he could make a nice long-distance staying chaser – maybe a Scottish National horse one day.”
Mann’s conditional Kevin Tobin is off to pastures new but ensured the memory of a winner will be fresh in his mind from Mr Big (11-4 favourite) in the NKF Seymour & Plumbing Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase.
“The plan is to finish at Plumpton a week on Monday, then I am going to educate myself in America – I will be doing a course on addiction counselling,” said Tobin, who won the “hands and heels” series last season.
“In the end I just decided I wasn’t going to be best used at this game.”
Gary Moore regularly upsets runners from more fashionable stables and it was the turn of Fix The Rib (11-2) in the Hamlet Oak Framed Buildings Maiden Chase.
A former Irish pointer, his form over hurdles was lacklustre but he proved to be a sharper type than the better fancied pair Quartano and Padalko.
“He did it nicely enough – it was probably not a great race,” said Moore’s son and rider Jamie.
“He’s a tough horse but pretty dumb – all he does is run but we just decided the best thing to do is let him do it his own way.”
Tom Siddall stayed composed aboard Ruby Crown in the Hobbs Parker Telecom Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.
On the mark at Leicester last month, the bulky 7-4 market leader represents the resurgent Kim Bailey and despite getting shuffled to the rear of the field, she recovered to peg back Romney Marsh close home.
Heir To Be (5-4 favourite) landed a gamble in the email@example.com Selling Handicap Hurdle while Jim Best’s Mount Benger (3-1 favourite) and the promising Rhys Flint streaked 20 lengths away in the frogpool.com Handicap Hurdle.