Possol team eye Gold Cup success after Perth victory

Possol emerged as a possible Hennessy Gold Cup contender when running out a convincing winner of the £35,000 stanjames.com Festival Chase at Perth.

Possol emerged as a possible Hennessy Gold Cup contender when running out a convincing winner of the £35,000 stanjames.com Festival Chase at Perth.

Richard Johnson eased the Henry Daly-trained six-year-old into the lead turning for home in the three-mile test, and soon clear he had 22 lengths to spare over Ollie Magern at the line.

This was only Shropshire-based Daly's sixth runner at the course in five years, and with the 660-mile round trip paying off he said of the 7-4 favourite: "We have had one or two winners here in the past, and we came this time for the prize money and of course the (weight) conditions of the race suited us.

"He just had a blip at Cheltenham (when unplaced in the William Hill Trophy), the race came a bit too soon for him after the Racing Post Chase, he had a hard race in that.

"He seemed in good order so here we are, good ground makes all the difference to him, he won't go in the soft and if the ground is right we will have to think about the Hennessy in the autumn."

Sadly, O'Malley was put down after making a mistake and parting company with his rider at the water jump.

Irish ace Barry Geraghty gained his first success at the course and Nicky Henderson sent out his first winner at the Scottish venue when the consistent Zemsky justified favouritism in the EBF Future Champions 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle.

The 11-8 favourite had been headed by Star Lord two out but was rallying when the latter took a horrible fall at the final flight and Henderson's raider went on to beat Big Burrows by five lengths.

Rider Paddy Brennan escaped injury while Star Lord eventually got to his feet after lying prostrate for some time and being attended by the vet having seemingly been winded.

The winner is owned by Ronnie Bartlett, who said: "He was bought as a yearling at Fairyhouse, we broke him in, point-to-pointed him and ran him in a hunter chase (second at Kelso) and then sent him to Nicky - he will go novice chasing in the autumn and he is a nice one to look forward to."

Zemsky had been previously trained by Ian Ferguson in Ballymena, Northern Ireland and he was present to see his three-times point-to-point winner Simonsberg chalk up his first success under Rules in the hands of Nick Pearce in the pointtopoint.co.uk/viewpoint Hunters' Chase.

The 10-1 winner will now be aimed at Stratford's John Corbett Cup.

Brennan had earlier enjoyed better luck when 9-4 chance Frontier Dancer, carrying the same colours as the 1998 Aintree Grand National winner Earth Summit, swept back to winning form in the attheraces.com Best Odds Novices' Hurdle.

He took the measure of the favourite Eradicate approaching the last flight and drew away to score by four and a half lengths, much to the delight of trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies who said: "I am chuffed to bits, he disappointed at Liverpool last time (in a Listed handicap hurdle), they went a hell of a gallop and he could not get his jumping right.

"But he has come back to ordinary novice company and they went a sensible pace early so he was able to get into his stride and he did it beautifully - he will have a break now."

Cantgeton was another to have run below expectations last time out but he was back on song in the Bill And Bunny Cadogan Memorial Handicap Chase and popped up at 20-1 in the hands of Wilson Renwick.

Sent on at the second-last he stayed on well to pass the post with 14 lengths to spare over Ormello and Peter Monteith, pleased to saddle another winner in the colours David Johnson, said: "We were disappointed with him at Carlisle last time.

"He must have banged himself because he finished lame but he was soon sound again and maybe he had a dead leg or something - Wilson gave him a great ride, all he had to do at the last was jump it and that was that."

The consistent South O'The Border proved too good for the well-backed Wikaala under champion conditional-elect Aidan Coleman (five clear of nearest pursuer Brian Hughes with two days to go) in the concluding stanjames.com Handicap Hurdle after which Grand National-winning trainer Venetia Williams said: "It has been a great season for the stable and I am pleased for Aidan."

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