Superb Story earned himself a tilt at the Champion Hurdle after shouldering top-weight to victory in the feature race at Musselburgh.
Ridden by Harry Skelton and conceding upwards of 9lbs all round, last season’s County Hurdle hero came home half a length ahead of My Manekineko in the totepool Hogmaneigh Handicap Hurdle.
Winning trainer Dan Skelton said afterwards: “That was magic and I am absolutely delighted. He blew up a little towards the finish but he is very good fresh and I kept him fresh after he disappointed at Galway.
“He’ll go straight to Cheltenham now for the Champion Hurdle although we will probably give him an entry in the County Hurdle again.
“You can’t play jockeys round here so it was better to let him get on with things and the track wouldn’t have suited him ideally.”
Will Kennedy had earlier booted home a 314-1 treble on Project Bluebook, Rolling Thunder and Clondaw Kaempfer, the last two trained by Donald McCain.
Brian Ellison’s Dominada was the easiest winner of the day, storming home by seven lengths in the hands of Megan Carberry in the concluding 2m 3f handicap hurdle.
At Cheltenham, Coo Star Sivola gave trainer Nick Williams the perfect start to the new year with victory in the Listed Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.
The 9-2 shot stayed on up the hill under Lizzie Kelly to defeat Report To Base by four and a half lengths to earn a quote of 33-1 for the Neptune at the Cheltenham Festival.
Williams said: “He was due for a win. He is a good horse and we know he is a good horse as he has lots of places.
“Where we go from here, I’m not sure. He would need to be 150-rated for the Neptune but he could go for the conditional jockeys’ race [Martin Pipe].”
Meanwhile. there is a precautionary inspection at Ayr this morning ahead of the New Year Raceday. The track is protected by frost covers but, with temperatures likely to dip to -3°C, Racing Manager Emma Marley will check early on.
Ian Duncan, who trains at Coylton, about 10 miles from the track, could have a good day as he runs King Of Fashion, second in a similar contest at the track last month, in the two mile four furlong maiden hurdle at 12.30pm and, half an hour later, saddles three time course winner Lochnell in the three-mile handicap hurdle.
The feature race of the afternoon is the two mile five furlong handicap hurdle at 2.30 pm where top weight Desert Cry, from the in-form Donald McCain yard, could be the one to beat.