Alan King has his sights set on Newbury with Edwardstone following his winning return to hurdling action at Market Rasen.
The seven-year-old was fifth in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November before switching to fences, where he unseated his rider in a novice event at Doncaster in December.
Back to the smaller obstacles at the Lincolnshire track, Gavin Sheehan’s mount ran out a comfortable five-length winner of the MansionBet Handicap Hurdle.
King was at Warwick, where he outlined plans for his even-money winner.
He said: “He will go to the Betfair (Hurdle) and he was always going to go there. He gets a penalty for that, but I needed to get a run into him as he has had no match practice this season.
“We were going to go chasing with him, but he only got to the fourth fence at Doncaster and I just felt I’d rather have a full season with him over fences so went back to training him for Newbury.
“I wanted to get a run into him and this race fitted in well before the Betfair. I do think he will be a very good chaser, but you would have ended up getting one run into him then going to Cheltenham and you can’t do that.
“I might run him over a fence in May when the freshness is out of him. He has always been potentially very good and he is settling better now.”
On The Blind Side’s fine season continued when he justified his position as short-priced favourite with a game victory in the MansionBet’s Bet 10 Get 10 Hurdle.
The Nicky Henderson-trained gelding was last seen finishing second to the highly-regarded McFabulous in the Grade Two Relkeel Hurdle at Kempton, his third run of a campaign that has seen him finish in the first two every time.
Jumping fluently throughout and travelling in the slipstream of the ever-popular Lil Rockerfeller, the nine-year-old was engaged in a shoulder-to-shoulder battle with the chestnut and eventually shook him off after the last to prevail by a neck under Nico de Boinville.
“He dug deep there, he was brilliant,” De Boinville said of the evens scorer.
“Fair play to the owners and the guv’nor for spinning him round so fast after last time.
“It’s great to see him showing a bit of consistency this season, well, a lot of consistency. The ground didn’t bother him at all.”
The race sadly saw the loss of 2018 County Hurdle winner Mohaayed, who had unseated Bridget Andrews at the fifth flight.
Eclair Mag struck gold on his first start for trainer Richard Bandey when claiming the MansionBet’s Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap Chase at the massive starting price of 80-1.
The French import had one hurdles win and one chase win to his name for Vaumas-based Emmanuel Clayeux before joining the yard of Bandey earlier this month.
Taking up the lead over the penultimate fence having been towards the rear for much of the race, the seven-year-old was spring-heeled at the final fence to pull away from 5-2 favourite Mac Tottie and prevail by four and three-quarter lengths under 5lb claimer Harrison Beswick.
“Harrison said we should have him, he was at Emmanuel Clayeux’s, who Harrison was working for last summer,” Bandey said.
“We had no expectations coming over, we thought it might be too heavy, but he’s travelled well and he’s jumped like a stag. I can’t believe he’s done it that well, to be honest.
“We have thought we might look at the cross-country race at Cheltenham, but he might be too far up the handicap for that, we’ll see. For now we’ll just enjoy today.”
Art Approval made light work of the MansionBet Watch and Bet Novices’ Hurdle for Fergal O’Brien and Connor Brace, looking worthy of his 4-11 favourite status when triumphing by seven lengths.
The victory was a first for the five-year-old, who joined O’Brien in July last year and has since been runner-up in two hurdle contests before finishing seventh at Cheltenham in November after making a late mistake.
“He’s done it very well,” Brace said of the performance.
“Once he hit the front he had a bit of a look as he’s never been in front before, but he had a nice trip and he jumped well, too.
“He’s a horse that seems to always run a little behind the bridle and because of the heavy ground he hit a flat spot there, but that aside he went very well.”
Fawsley Spirit (9-4 favourite) shed his 13-race maiden tag when grinding out a hard-fought triumph in the MansionBet Faller Insurance Handicap Hurdle for trainer Ben Pauling and jockey Luca Morgan.
The eight-year-old ran prominently throughout, seeing off a late challenge from Akarita Lights over the penultimate flight to pull away approaching the last and cross the line three and a quarter lengths ahead of his nearest rival.