SCOTTISH racegoers enjoyed seeing a star turn at his very best as Overturn booked his Cheltenham ticket after turning in another superb display to keep his unbeaten record over fences intact in the Scottish Arkle Novices’ Chase at Musselburgh.
Donald McCain’s dual-purpose performer, sent off the 1-5 favourite following impressive rounds of jumping at Sandown and Doncaster, was soon adopting his customary trailblazing tactics and, even with a circuit to go, it was clear main rival Tetlami was struggling to keep tabs on him.
Jason Maguire wound up the tempo heading down the back, with some fine leaps keeping the pressure on, and by the time he rounded the final turn, Overturn was well clear. He safely negotiated the remaining obstacles in the straight to score by an emphatic 29 lengths. Tetlami was the only other finisher, with Asaid refusing to start and rank outsider Next Sensation falling when well beaten at the second-last.
McCain said: “We had a hunt round Sandown and then two-miles-three round Doncaster, and we have had to be fairly sensible in waiting for today. That’s what he’s been waiting for. He was smashing and Jason said he was magic. He’s been waiting for the day when Jason jumps out of the gate with him.
“We always looked for a reason not to send him chasing. If he’d made one mistake at home we wouldn’t have done it. He enjoys it, that’s the main thing – from the first day he’s schooled, he’s done what he did here. He will go straight to the Arkle, I wouldn’t put myself through that again! He’s won on three different types of track now and that will stand us in good stead for a month’s time.”
Paddy Power trimmed Overturn to 7-2 from 4-1 for the Arkle Trophy at next month’s Cheltenham Festival, a race for which Tetlami’s stablemate, the Nicky Henderson-trained Simonsig, is 4-6 favourite.
McCain said: “We’ve been second in a Champion Hurdle and we jump fences like that. I have respect for Simonsig, you have to, but we don’t have to be scared of him. He may well beat us, but he’ll know he’s had a race, that’s for sure.”
Charlie Longsdon’s Superior Quality clung on in a thrilling finish to the Albert Bartlett Scottish Trial under Noel Fehily. Making his first appearance since winning a Warwick maiden hurdle in early December on his first start since joining Longsdon from Ireland, the 10-1 chance travelled smoothly to the lead as he jumped the final obstacle and held the rallying Lord Wishes by half a length. Paddy Power make the winner 25-1 from 66-1 for the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham.
Odds-on favourite Tap Night was a well-beaten last of four as Viva Colonia (9-2) claimed the Scottish Future Champions Novices’ Chase for Brian Ellison and Danny Cook, with the winner now set for a crack at the Grand Annual at Cheltenham.
Sametegal ran out an emphatic winner of the John Smith’s Scottish Triumph Hurdle Trial as old rival Kashmir Peak blundered and unseated Dougie Costello at the fourth-last. The latter had beaten the Paul Nicholls-trained Sametegal by a length when they met at Doncaster in December and was still going strongly having taken a keen hold when making his mistake.
Having just taken an advantage at that flight, it was fairly plain sailing for Daryl Jacob on the 5-4 favourite, who took the eye in powering eight lengths clear of Docs Legacy. William Hill cut the winner to 20-1 from 25-1 for the Triumph.
Nicholls runners are a rare sight at the Edinburgh track but he doubled up as Harry Derham and the well-backed Salubrious (7-4 favourite) took the concluding John O’Mailley 80th Birthday Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
Ed de Giles was celebrating after Prince Of Dreams (13-2) landed a good prize in the John Smith’s Scottish Champion Chase, challenging three out and sealing matters with a huge jump at the last.
Brick Red was another winner for Venetia Williams and Aidan Coleman in the John Smith’s Scottish County Hurdle. Running in the colours of emerging Gold Cup contender Katenko, who looks set to run next in the Racing Plus Chase, the 5-2 favourite ran on strongly to beat Constant Contact by three and a quarter lengths.