Alasi secures festival place

Alasi booked her ticket for a third trip to the Cheltenham Festival with a narrow victory in the Sky Bet Mobile For Android Doncaster Mares' Hurdle on Town Moor this afternoon.

Alasi booked her ticket for a third trip to the Cheltenham Festival with a narrow victory in the Sky Bet Mobile For Android Doncaster Mares' Hurdle on Town Moor this afternoon.

A decision has yet to be made, however, on whether Alasi (5-2) takes on Quevega in the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle again or goes for the Jewson Novices' Chase.

Paul Webber's charge was all out to hold Jackies Solitaire by a nose in a rip-roaring finish in the winter sunshine under a strong Dominic Elsworth.

"Two years ago she was eighth to Quevega and last year we followed her up the hill to see how close we could get to her and she finished fourth, so I don't know," said owner Shully Liebermann.

"The plan was if she won on the bridle she'd go for the Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown next Saturday, but she won't go there now. She had a hard race here and will probably get a couple of weeks off.

"If she starts kicking the stable door down she might run in another novice chase. She was going well when she unseated Dominic at Kempton.

"If we chose the novice chase route at Cheltenham it would be the Jewson. Other than that, it will be the David Nicholson again and we won't chase Quevega again."

Tony McCoy registered his victory since returning from injury as Kid Cassidy obliged in the Sky Bet Mobile For iPhone Lightning Novices' Chase.

Sent off a 2-1 chance, Kid Cassidy's task was certainly eased when odds-on favourite Menorah departed early, crashing through a fence and giving Tom O'Brien no chance of maintaining the partnership.

That left just Kumbeshwar in opposition and Kid Cassidy looked well in control turning for home.

However, McCoy had to employ all his skills in the saddle as Nicky Henderson's runner got the last two obstacles totally wrong, but he sat tight to win by three and three-quarter lengths.

McCoy said: "I tried to make it as enjoyable for him in his mind after all that has happened to him in the past.

"There's no doubt what happened to him at Newbury (when he had an electric shock) has left its mark, but he's a very good horse.

"It was a case of trying to make him happy and not unsettling him by trying to drop him in behind, but he's going the right way and we just need to try to get settled and relaxed in his races.

"It's nice to be back with a winner. He's a horse I've always liked."

Henderson added: "I don't know what we are going to do at the moment, we'll see.

"With a three-horse field you had no chance of trying to settle him in, so we thought we'd pop him out. He's a very talented horse.

"I'll talk to JP (McManus, owner). It didn't look like he needs to be going round Cheltenham, but if we dropped him in and hunted round you never know. He has got the ability."

O'Brien gained some compensation for his fall when guiding 3-1 favourite Big Easy to victory in the Money Off Your Sky Bill At Skybet Handicap Hurdle.

O'Brien brought Philip Hobbs' five-year-old with a smooth run to collar Bocciani at the last and win by one and a half lengths with Corkage third.

"It's great to back off the ground and have a winner," said O'Brien.

"He had a decent Flat rating and it was great for him to win on his handicap debut.

Owner Terry Warner added: "He's let us down a few times. The last race he ran was a bit better. He's no star, but he' OK."

Calgary Bay gave Henrietta Knight her second big winner in seven days when carrying a welter burden to victory in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.

The nine-year-old has reserved some of his best performances for Town Moor in the past and yet again he was seen to great effect.

Dominic Elsworth gave his mount a patient ride, attempting to nurse him into the race with his big weight.

Fruity O'Rooney led the field and still had every chance at the second last when Jamie Moore's saddle slipped.

That left Shakalakaboomboom in front but Calgary Bay (12-1) soon swamped him and ran out a two-and-a-half-length winner.

Moore performed miracles to cling on for third.

Elsworth said: "I was really pleased with him and it's a fine weight-carrying performance.

"He's a really big horse and luckily he can carry it. It's not for me to say he should go for the National, but obviously he jumps very well."

Knight said: "With that big weight he had to patient with him. He likes it here and won his first chase on this track.

"The Grand National is the aim. I think he'll go straight to Aintree now. He deserves a rest now and he's been out in the field with Somersby most of the week.

"We always wondered if he really stays three miles, but he has always loves this track and he was going to run in this race last year but it was called off.

"I looked at all the last winners and nothing had won with that weight."

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox