Chief required for National service

Chief Dan George lined up a likely tilt next month’s Coral Scottish National after his striking success in the John Smith’s Novices’ Chase at Kelso.

Chief Dan George lined up a likely tilt next month’s Coral Scottish National after his striking success in the John Smith’s Novices’ Chase at Kelso.

The Grade One-winning hurdler was supplementing a victory at Catterick just over three weeks ago, after which there was a temptation to take him to the Cheltenham Festival.

Jimmy Moffatt decided to keep things a bit lower key for a little longer, but now has no worries about raising his sights.

The 11-4 chance picked up in pleasing fashion to head Sa Suffit on the long run-in and forge three and a half lengths clear under Paddy Aspell.

Moffatt said: “As long as the going is all right, he will run in the Scottish National at Ayr – I have no worries about the trip (four miles and one furlong).

“I was very happy with him beforehand and I thought he would win.

“He has always been a chaser in the making, but Paddy said he would not want ground any quicker

than he has encountered and we will be looking after him.

“He is going to be an even better horse next year.”

Chris Grant’s horses are in good heart and the Cleveland handler completed an 80-1 double with Barton Grey in the Isle Of Skye Blended Scotch Whisky Handicap Hurdle and Tom’s Toybox, who was well backed in the “One Off” Caverton Handicap Chase.

Ferdy Murphy, whose runners at Kelso are always respected, was quickly on the mark again when Big Burrows won the Border Facilities Maiden Hurdle.

Gilsland made the running until Sirkeel went on at the penultimate hurdle – but Graham Lee was always ready to pounce on the 4-1 winner.

Big Burrows stepped up a gear to lead soon after the last and strode on well up the hill to score by six lengths.

Murphy said: “He has just taken time, he is a real nice horse and I can’t wait to see him go chasing next season.

“I will give him another run this time, there are a couple of choices at Perth - a three-and-a-quarter-mile novices’ handicap and a three-mile novice.

“He is owned by Julie and Neil Morgan, who also own (Arkle runner-up) Kalahari King.

“He has come out of his Cheltenham race in good form and he will go for the Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree.”

Conditional rider Charlie Huxley, based with Alan King in Wiltshire, secured a winner with his first ride at the course when the Ian Williams-trained Mister Apple’s (11-2) claimed the John Smith’s Handicap Chase.

First Stream defied uneasy market vibes to win the Reece & Ben Coppola Maiden Hurdle.

Howard Johnson’s charge drifted from 7-2 to 6-1 but belied those betting-rings doubts with a neck success under Denis O’Regan.

Johnson’s assistant, Ray Hawkey, said: “He would have won first time out at Musselburgh if he had not fallen.”

Rose Dobbin could not get off to a dream start in her training career as Kinharvie, her first ever runner, finished eighth behind Storm Brig (16-1) in the concluding bumper.

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