Cobra strikes at Warwick to set up potential Festival bid

Fri 23 Feb 2018

Cobra De Mai could be headed for the Cheltenham Festival after winning on his first start since a wind operation at Warwick.

Trainer Dan Skelton has the Close Brothers' Novices' Handicap Chase in mind for the six-year-old following his victory in the Entire Cheltenham Festival On Racing UK Budbrooke Handicap Chase.

Cobra De Mai (4-1) led at the final fence in the hands of Skelton's brother Harry to go on and score by two and a half lengths from Drumlee Sunset.

"It was brilliant. If he gets in the Close Brothers we might throw him in that, then look at Aintree, possibly Ayr and the Mira Showers at Cheltenham's April meeting," said the Alcester handler.

"There are plenty of options for him."

Paddy Power cut Cobra De Mai to 16-1 from 25-1 for the Close Brothers race at the Festival.

Sheneededtherun (14-1) displayed battling qualities to lift the Faller Refunds at 188Bet Mares' Handicap Chase.

Michael Scudamore's eight-year-old was steadily brought into the race by 3lb claimer John Kington, leading after jumping the last and landing the spoils by a length and three-quarters from the always-prominent Marienstar, with a neck back to Sparkling River.

"I'm really pleased she's turned it around. She seemed to struggle at the start of the season for whatever reason," said Scudamore.

"Her last three runs have been really good and it's great for John Kington as well. He's struck up a great relationship with her.

"He's given her a good ride and, with his claim, she's gone and done it nicely."

He added: "She appreciates the nicer ground so we'll keep her going for a bit. There's the final of this series at Haydock, which will have to come into consideration, and there are nice races at Cheltenham at the end of April as well - a three-mile-two chase for mares there.

"We'll take her home and see how she is, but there are some nice races to think about."

Daryl Jacob reached 50 winners for the season when striking on the Nicky Henderson-trained Indian Hawk (7-4 favourite) for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede in the British Stallion Studs EBF 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle.

Alan King's Doctor Bartolo (11-10 favourite) got off the mark over jumps after two second places when beating stablemate Jaboticaba by 16 lengths under Tom Bellamy in the Whitson Bloodstock & Olly Murphy Racing Juvenile Hurdle.

The four-year-old was cut to 12-1 from 20-1 for the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham by Paddy Power.

King completed a double when Wayne Hutchinson steered home Midnightreferendum (3-1) in the British Stallion Studs EBF Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

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