Williams hopes for Cheltenham strike

Lightning Strike was left unchanged at 40-1 with Cashmans for the RSA Chase despite setting out his Cheltenham Festival stall with victory at Leicester.

Lightning Strike was left unchanged at 40-1 with Cashmans for the RSA Chase despite setting out his Cheltenham Festival stall with victory at Leicester.

After a couple of bloodless successes, the six-year-old fluffed his lines slightly and could only muster a third-place finish at Kempton two weeks ago.

However, he got back on track under Aidan Coleman and popped round in the ladbrokes.com Rutland Water Novices’ Chase to brush off his four rivals as the 8-13 favourite.

Trainer Venetia Williams said: “He got caught out a bit the last day and his confidence went.

“We came here to get a good round of jumping in and get his confidence back up.

“That will hopefully have taught him more about what it is all about, and he’ll now go for the RSA Chase.”

Song of Songs hit a winning note when getting off the mark over fences at the second time of asking in the ladbrokes.com Beginners’ Chase.

The seven-year-old is one of just three horses trained by James Fanshawe for JP McManus, whose retained jockey Tony McCoy travelled to the Midlands circuit to ensure a positive result.

Last season’s Coral Cup seventh was the 3-10 favourite to get the better of his three rivals and did so with consummate ease under the 13-times champion jockey.

Fanshawe said: “He has had his niggles but we have always thought that he does have ability.

“He doesn’t have any fancy entries but should give us plenty of fun in the spring.”

McCoy was again in the money as he used his strength and determination to ensure 3-1 favourite Matcho Pierji accounted for the determined Tarabaloo in the ladbrokes.com John O’Gaunt Handicap Chase.

Ballyvaden repeated his win of 12 months ago in the ladbrokescasino.com Handicap Chase but this time stretched the winning margin to 25 lengths.

The 8-1 chance provided West Country trainer Caroline Keevil with a first winner under Rules with his five-length success last year, and repeated the dose under Tom O’Brien.

Keevil said: “We do like Leicester after he won here last year and it is nice to do it again.

“He goes on soft ground but prefers decent ground and was able to ping his fences on this solid surface.”

A recent breathing operation enabled Caroline Bailey’s Donald Will Do to open his account over fences in the ladbrokes.com Sileby Novices’ Handicap Chase.

The well-backed 4-1 chance had not shown much on his previous 11 starts but hinted at better to come recently when fourth at Ludlow, and finally clicked as Andrew Thornton nudged him home a length and a quarter to the good.

Bailey said: “He hasn’t won since his point-to-point days and seems quite pleased with himself.

“He had a wind operation a couple of runs ago and that is helping him get home.”

Oopsmylord led home a one-two for trainer Steve Flook with the 18-1 chance getting up right on the line to deny stablemate and 5-2 favourite Gentle George in the ladbrokes.com Cottesmore Maiden Hunters’ Chase.

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