Winning grooves and ante-post moves: a wrap-up of everything on a busy Saturday
It was a busy Saturday with good horses running left, right and centre (or Gowran, Ascot and Haydock if you'd rather). Here is everything you might otherwise have missed.
Min the merciless
Min had not been sighted on a racecourse since the Christmas period last year but he returned to the track and was as merciless as ever, winning at Gowran with more ease than even his odds of 1-9 suggested.
He was left unchanged at 13-2 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase but it was a case of everything remains in working order. He will face tougher tests but he passed this first one with flying colours.
"He wasn't stopping there over 2m4f so that opens up more options for him. We'll see what's available for him at Christmas," said his trainer Willie Mullins.
Top Notch looks just that
For a horse who is not the biggest, Top Notch simply loves jumping fences and he authoritatively dispatched a decent field to claim the Grade 2 Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot by eight lengths from Double Shuffle.
It was an impressive display from a horse who is just one from six in Grade 1s but nine from 13 in all other races. He has earned yet another crack at the top table and Paddy Power cut him to 6-1 (from 10) for the Ryanair Chase at the festival in March.
Obeaux so good
Paul Nicholls has won the last five runnings of Haydock's Graduation Chase – run as a novice event until this year and won last year by recent Haldon Gold Cup winner Politologue – and his much-hyped five-year-old Clan Des Obeaux never looked in danger as he put seven lengths into Vintage Clouds with a further four and a half lengths back to Born Survivor.
Nicholls, who was at Ascot, said Clan Des Obeaux was a brilliant example of the benefit a wind-op can have and added: "He will have an entry in the Caspian Caviar, and the Peterborough Chase would suit him."
Tingle all the way
Tom George's Sir Valentino won Ascot's competitive Shawbrook Handicap Chase and was cut to 20-1 (from 50) for next month's Tingle Creek. A mark of 159 was not enough to deny him a half-length success.
Carter McKay spent the build-up to the 2016 Cheltenham Festival among the favourites for the Champion Bumper and made a solid start to his hurdling career, winning by 15 lengths at Gowran after a final hurdle fall for his nearest challenger Mortal.
Paddy Power inserted him at 33-1 in their Ballymore Novices' Hurdle betting.
Paddy Power also snipped the price of his novice hurdle-winning stablemate Sharjah, cutting him to 16-1 (from 20) after he carried the famous Rich Ricci silks to a four-length victory at Gowran.