Hargam booked his ticket for Cheltenham with an effortless success in the John Smith’s Scottish Triumph Hurdle Trial at Musselburgh.
A winner at Cheltenham last time out on soft, Nicky Henderson sent him north in a search for better ground and he looked much happier, albeit not against the strongest opposition.
Settled behind the pace by Tony McCoy, he travelled noticeably well throughout and jumped fluently on his third outing over timber.
Donald McCain’s Starchitect, who had chased home the winner’s stablemate Peace And Co at Doncaster, gave vain chase but Hargam cruised six lengths clear to land the odds as the 4-11 favourite. “AP [McCoy] thought it would be a good idea to come here to get him on some nice ground as he won despite the soft ground last time,” said Henderson. “It’s good prize money, the timing is good and we knew we’d get his ground.
“He jumped very well and travelled well and enjoyed it. I’ll talk to JP [McManus, owner] but I imagine it’s straight to the Triumph now.”
Henderson doubled up in the finale as Dawalan and the in-form Daryl Jacob (11-4 joint-favourite) reeled in Kruzhlinin in the Pertemps Qualifier.
McCoy was also on the mark in the John Smith’s Scottish Champion Chase as he produced a typically power-packed ride to guide Ifandbutwhynot to a thrilling victory. David O’Meara’s talented hurdler was the 7-4 favourite to get off the mark over fences at the fifth attempt and did so by fending off Swaledale Lad by half a length.
Some Plan galloped his rivals into submission in the Sky Bet Supreme Scottish Trial Novices’ Hurdle. John Ferguson’s dual bumper winner El Namoose was the 8-11 favourite to make it two from two over hurdles, but a bad mistake at the third flight set the tone for a hugely disappointing effort as he trailed home last of the four runners.
The Tom George-trained Some Plan, a winner at Southwell before chasing home Seedling at Cheltenham, was next best in the market at 2-1 and as he had at Prestbury Park in December, he set out to make every post a winning one under Paddy Brennan. Brennan said: “He did it well and he’s a nice horse, but I don’t think the race worked out as good as it looked on paper. He’s a nice horse for the future.”
Retrieve (13-2), a classy performer on the level, won the John Smith’s Scottish County Hurdle off bottom weight for Ferguson and Jack Quinlan.
Shanroe Santos (11-4 joint-favourite) looks to have a bright future as he provided Lucy Wadham with a second big win over the weekend in the Albert Bartlett Scottish Trial. On the back of Le Reve winning at Sandown on Saturday, Shanroe Sands confirmed his appearance at the Festival by beating Uisge Beatha by two and three-quarter lengths under Leighton Aspell.
Seventh Sky (11-4) was an easy winner of the John Smith’s Scottish Future Champions Novices’ Chase, despite jumping left at nearly every fence for Charlie Mann and Gavin Sheehan. Current Event is also Cheltenham-bound after an impressive win in the Hunter Chase for trainer Rose Loxton and Bryony Frost.