Henderson eyeing big prizes for resurgent Josses Hill
Josses Hill looks firmly back on track and could make a quick reappearance in Ascot's Grade 2 Stella Artois 1965 Chase after beating sole rival Camping Ground in the graduation chase. The Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon is another possibility.
The eight-year-old, who chased home the late great Vautour in the Supreme Novices' at Cheltenham in 2014, is known to have his own way of jumping fences and took a crashing fall in last year's Tingle Creek, but a win in another graduation chase in February did his confidence good.
Jockey Nico de Boinville was delighted. "That was great," he said. "He was spot-on with his jumping and he loves it around here."
Nicky Henderson was equally pleased and said Josses Hill "has got good now."
He added: "I just told Nico to be positive over those ditches, as he used to hang in the air a bit and panic. Ascot is only two weeks away, but that would be the right sort of race as I just have a feeling he's better right-handed than left, although he still runs good races at Cheltenham.
"The trip would be right, the ground would be right, and it's the right way around, but whether it would be a bit too grown up too soon I'm not sure. The Peterborough would be another lovely race for him. He is a good horse and there is a big race in him one day."
Skelton doubles up
Dan Skelton won the 2m2f novice handicap chase with Oldgrangewood, ridden by brother Harry, and the conditional riders' handicap hurdle with Herons Heir, partnered by Harry's girlfriend Bridget Andrews.
The trainer said: "For 18 months we've been protecting Oldgrangewood, and today is the first time we've really let him have his head, but as Harry says, he's got to man up. We were thinking of the novice handicap here on Boxing Day, but Harry says he wants to go the other way and there's no point ignoring him."
Former useful Flat handicapper Top Tug made the perfect start to his new career when taking the novice hurdle in the hands of Wayne Hutchinson, shaping like one who could go a long way over jumps.
Ollie Wardle, representing Alan King, said: "That was a lovely start, and a good introduction is so important. He jumped well on the whole and was just a little bit green going to the last."
The luckiest winner of the day was Potters Legend, who was well held in second when Barney Dwan made the sole error of what had been an impressive round of jumping at the final fence of the 3m novice.
Potters Legend is decent nevertheless and Paddy Power make him a 50-1 chance for the RSA Chase, with the luckless runner-up just 20-1.
Trainer Lucy Wadham said: "It was day one at school for him and he's only schooled on the all weather. We have high hopes, but we'll try and find another small race next."
Thought for the day
It was a throwback to a different era to learn that back in May novice hurdle winner Coastal Tiep ran twice on the same card. He was brought down in the early stages of a 2m4f point-to-point but was none the worse and after a couple of hours kip in the horsebox was pulled out again to win over 3m.