Rainbow shines at Ascot

Finian's Rainbow simply outclassed the opposition in the Hope Safe T-Bar Novices' Hurdle at Ascot today.

Finian's Rainbow simply outclassed the opposition in the Hope Safe T-Bar Novices' Hurdle at Ascot today.

Nicky Henderson's gelding was sent off the 4-11 favourite on the back of two fine performances at Newbury - a win in a novice event and a highly respectable third behind Reve De Sivola in the Challow Hurdle.

As game as the leader Arkose was, he faced a hopeless task in attempting to contain Finian's Rainbow.

Barry Geraghty allowed his mount to coast three lengths clear on the run-in to confirm himself in the reckoning for the Cheltenham Festival.

He was trimmed slightly to a general 7-1 for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle and Henderson reported: "It looked easy on paper but, as we learned earlier in the week (Zaynar was beaten at odds of 1-14 at Kelso on Thursday), there's no such thing.

"He obviously won't run again and he'll go to Cheltenham as a very realistic candidate."

Burton Port landed the odds in the Sodexo Prestige Reynoldstown Novices' Chase to give Henderson and Geraghty a quickfire double.

Previously unbeaten over fences, the 4-6 favourite came under a little bit of pressure turning into the home straight, and for a few strides it looked as though long-time leader Diablo might not stop in front.

His main rival, Knockara Beau, jumped sloppily throughout, which meant a good leap at the last from Burton Port sealed the race.

Diablo blundered and Knockara Beau stayed on at one pace to claim second, four lengths away.

Geraghty said: "The ground was a bit dead and he never gave me the same feel that he did at Southwell.

"But he picked up well and did it nicely in the end."

The winner was trimmed to 20-1 from 25s by Victor Chandler for the RSA Chase.

Henderson added: "It wasn't long ago that he ran at Southwell and he wasn't as fresh today, although he has done it well in the end.

"I'll have to discuss it with Trevor (Hemmings, owner) but I think it might just be best to freshen him up and go to Aintree instead as that might just suit him."

George Charlton, trainer of the runner-up, reported: "He's a little bit lame behind and I don't know when it happened, I'll have to look back at the tape.

"He made a mistake early on and then didn't have the confidence to stand off his fences.

"He seems to have come back in one piece. I'm keen to still go to Cheltenham as that is a different day - although he does keep finding one too good."

Beshabar's preferred engagement on Saturday had been at Haydock, but it was worth him heading to Ascot instead as he lifted the Betfair Handicap Hurdle.

Now with Paul Nicholls after a previous stint with Nick Williams, the chestnut had got off the mark for his new stable at Sandown a fortnight ago and, with Ruby Walsh in the plate, punters sent him off the 9-4 favourite despite a big field.

Walsh was always to the fore and snubbed out the determined challenge of Tender Falcon to score by a neck.

"I thought he was a better bet at Haydock but Paul Barber (joint-owner) said the track up there was going to be a bog so we brought him here with his future in mind," said owner Harry Findlay.

"He was caught out for a bit of speed and the second came with a lovely run to beat us, but we beat him really well.

"He's a horse I like very much and is entered for a couple of handicaps at Cheltenham, but he ran two weeks ago and today and we have to think of the future."

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