The Shunter set to bid for six-figure festival bonus after Morebattle victory
Watch out for The Shunter at the Cheltenham Festival this month – whichever race he runs in.
He is entered in five races at the meeting and will land a £100,000 bonus if successful in one of them thanks to his success in the bet365 Morebattle Handicap Hurdle on Kelso's biggest raceday of the year.
The Paul Byrne-owned eight-year-old has already earned a shade over £92,000 from two visits to Britain this term, having taken the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham last November.
Trainer Emmet Mullins was speaking from Navan said: "That was marvellous. It's brilliant for Paul as he's put plenty of money into it.
"Anything we've asked him to do, he keeps coming up trumps for us. He's a real star. Fingers crossed he'll go to Cheltenham now. There is a huge bonus and it's great to have a chance at it.
"He had a tough race there today, we'll give him every chance to get over it and try to find one of the races in Cheltenham for him. He's in plenty of them and we'll keep all options open."
Drogo caps superb Kelso trip for Skeltons
Dan Skelton was glad he came to Kelso – and not just because My Drogo bolted up in the bet365 Premier Novices' Hurdle.
The trainer was impressed with the course and said: "It's my first time to Kelso. Unfortunately I'm not seeing it full of crowds but I'm really taken by the track.
"They've done a great job to find some fresh ground and to bring horses up like My Drogo is very special, and the prize money stands up to all scrutiny."
Top-level targets at Aintree await the winner, who is owned and bred by Richard and Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes and scored by a decisive nine and a half lengths to register a second Grade 2 success.
"He's a lovely horse," Skelton added. "We're very lucky to have him. I think he's very progressive, to do that under a Class 1 penalty is quite impressive. Hopefully he's got a big future.
"The really impressive thing about him is that as the season's progressed he's got stronger and heavier. We don't weigh our horses but if we did I'd say he's probably a heavier, better horse than he was when he ran in a bumper at Cheltenham in the autumn. He's come a long way since that day."
Flash Collonges was an impressive winner of the 2m5f handicap hurdle under Harry Cobden to give the jockey his 103rd winner of the season and keep him in the race for the jockeys' championship.
Trainer Paul Nicholls' assistant Harry Derham said: "That was a really good performance. We'd suspected Flash Collonges would be a better horse in a better race and he jumped really nicely.
"He wandered in the last 50 yards but he won with plenty in hand. Looking at the size of him, he should definitely be a better chaser. He's a lovely horse to look forward to."
It was not only the fine spring sunshine that encouraged thoughts of the upcoming turf Flat season for trainer John Quinn, who revealed it had been a big work morning for his string in Malton after he won the 2m juvenile hurdle with Magna Moralia.
"Liberty Beach and Keep Busy had their first gallop of the year," the trainer said. "El Astronaute is back and I was very pleased with Safe Voyage – things didn't quite work out for him at the Breeders' Cup but he moved really well this morning and we're looking at the Group 2 mile at Sandown in April for him."
Catch up on the rest of Saturday's action
Join Members' Club Ultimate and read tipping from the likes of Pricewise and Paul Kealy, all the big interviews and features, daily comment and news analysis – plus our Ultimate Daily newsletter. Click here to sign up.