Salver will bid to provide Gary Moore with JCB Triumph Hurdle redemption when he takes his chance in Friday’s Cheltenham Festival opener.

Four years ago the trainer saw Goshen unseat his recently-retired son Jamie with the race at his mercy following a freak incident after the last and he now saddles two as he attempts to correct the record.

Moore also runs last year’s Irish Derby fourth Peking Opera, but it is the mount of Gavin Sheehan who holds the strongest claims, with Salver heading to Prestbury Park unbeaten in four starts over hurdles.

Despite claiming Grade Two honours at Chepstow over the Christmas period, the Lower Beeding handler feels this will be the acid test of his ability as he meets high-class operators from across the Irish Sea.

“Any significant rain would give him an advantage. This race owes me one,” said Moore.

“He deserves his spot in this line-up and a lot of people would have run him in the Fred Winter because he’s only rated 128, but it was always going to be the Triumph.

“He’s only ever shown his class on a racecourse, he’s never shown anything at home really. His last piece of work was a good piece of work that I was happy with, but to be quite honest, I think he has won four weakish races.

“There are a few bits of form that show him to be quite useful but he hasn’t met a superstar yet, so he has to go out there and prove himself, this will be his test.

“Niall (Houlihan) will ride the other horse and poor Caoilin (Quinn) is sidelined, so Gavin rides.”

Willie Mullins has won three of the last four renewals and is blessed with a plethora of chances, saddling seven of the 13 heading to post and dominating the top of the betting lists.

Kenny Alexander’s Kargese is one of the Closutton battalion and the likeable filly will attempt to go one better than the owner’s Gala Marceau did 12 months ago in the race – having followed in that stablemate’s footsteps by claiming the Spring Juvenile at Leopardstown en route to the Cotswolds.

She got the better of fellow Mullins runners Storm Heart (second) and Majborough (third) on that occasion and her pilot Danny Mullins feels they are a closely matched bunch.

“The first four home were from Willie’s (at the Dublin Racing Festival) and any one of the four could pop up and win in Cheltenham,” said Danny Mullins.

“Storm Heart was close to me, Majborough back in third ran a bit keen on the day. You can make solid cases for them all finding the necessary improvement to be good enough to win a Triumph.

“It’s probably the one division where the horses are still developing, so what you’re seeing pre-Christmas versus what you see come March in Cheltenham can be two different things.”

Those sentiments have been echoed by the master of Closutton himself in the build up to the Cheltenham action, but there is a clear apple of his eye amongst his collective, with the imposing Majborough courting plenty of favour from his record-setting handler.

“Majborough ran a cracker (at Leopardstown). Every time I see him I think Gold Cup, not Triumph Hurdle, he’s just a magnificent beast,” said Willie Mullins.

“I was surprised when he arrived from France to see what an individual he was. He’s not a typical juvenile hurdler, you’re looking at him and thinking three years down the road.

“Maybe he could be like Douvan and just fully develop as a four and five-year-old. I’ve got some nice juveniles, but he’d be in the top couple of picks.”

The Festival’s leading trainer is also represented by impressive Limerick winner Bunting, who was a place further back in fourth at the Dublin Racing Festival, while Ethical Diamond (sixth) and Highwind (eighth) were others taking part in the Irish capital with outside claims for Mullins.

The Closutton septet is rounded off by the intriguing Salvator Mundi, who was less than two lengths behind long-time race favourite Sir Gino when they met in France and he could prove an exciting ride for Brian Hayes, making his stable debut in Grade One company – ironically for the sidelined Sir Gino’s owners Joe and Marie Donnelly.

Joseph O’Brien’s Nurburgring has solid form from the early part of the season and has been kept fresh for this event, with Fairyhouse scorer Fratas completing the Irish contingent representing Michael Mulvany.

Warren Greatrex will saddle Mighty Bandit – his expensive recruit from the Caldwell dispersal – who handed Tuesday’s Boodles winner Lark In The Morning a near 10-length beating in November, while Dominic Ffrench Davis takes a shot at this valuable prize with Newbury winner Ithaca’s Arrow.

Stainsby Girl upset hot favourite You Wear It Well with a fine front-running victory in the Listed Virgin Bet Every Saturday Money Back Mares’ Hurdle at Haydock.

Cheltenham Festival heroine You Wear It Well was a 1-2 shot to to make the most of having her sights lowered, having finished third in the Grade One Fighting Fifth and second in a Grade Two at Doncaster on her last two starts.

However, Gavin Sheehan was sending out distress signals in the saddle even before the home turn and she was ultimately well beaten in third.

Stainsby Girl, trained by Nick Alexander and owned and ridden by his son, Kit, finished fifth behind the Willie Mullins-trained Ashroe Diamond at Doncaster three weeks ago and led her rivals a merry dance here on her way to a 12-length verdict over Coquelicot.

“I thought she’d run well as she’s run some great races around here. I’m thrilled to bits as she deserved some black type and that’s the first time she’s managed to get any,” said Alexander of his 8-1 winner.

“She’s 10 now, so she’ll be going to stud soon enough. She handles that ground and she’s very difficult to pass as a lot of horses don’t handle it.

“We’re very lucky the BHA moved the race here after Warwick was abandoned last week, many thanks to them and to Haydock for doing so. We weren’t in the race at Warwick, so it’s a bit of good fortune.

“Kit owns her so we’ll see what he wants to do, but he gets some thrill riding her so he might want to have another go or two with her I would think. On the other hand she’s won her Listed race now and she’s booked in to see Logician, so she might just go there.”

Now Is The Hour completed a big-race double on the card for Gavin Cromwell and Sean Flanagan, dominating his rivals in the Grade Two Albert Bartlett Prestige Novices’ Hurdle.

While stablemate Yeah Man was a well-fancied winner of the Grand National Trial earlier in the afternoon, this recent Limerick scorer was 12-1 to scoop Grade Two honours.

He could be called the winner a long way from home, though, cruising into contention before pulling 17 lengths clear of Don’t Rightly Know.

Flanagan, riding at Haydock for the first time, said: “I’m just very privileged to come here and ride for the likes of Gavin – he’s produced this horse brilliantly on the day.

“It’s a big thing to him that he really enjoys this type of ground. We’ve gone very quick to the first bend and I’ve kind of let them at it up front and left my horse to be comfortable for as long as I could.

“I’ve got into a nice rhythm and he’s come home well because of that. He’s a nice prospect.”

Jonjo O’Neill and Nick Schofield combined to land the Virgin Bet Daily Extra Places Handicap Chase with 11-4 market leader Regal Blue.

The seven-year-old was disappointingly pulled up on his most recent appearance at Lingfield, but bounced back to form with a determined three-length success.

Schofield said: “He really enjoyed conditions today when others probably didn’t. You have to be tough on this ground. He’s no speedster, but he keeps going.

“It’s totally different conditions to day to what we got at Lingfield. He ran well here the time before, we’ve brought him back to what we know and it’s worked.”

The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Cuthbert Dibble (6-4 favourite) made it two from two for the season and four from seven over obstacles overall in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle under 5lb claimer Finn Lambert.

Willy Twiston-Davies, assistant to his father, said: “I thought that was impressive, he made a lot of ground up early in the straight and was left dawdling in front a bit.

“We’ve always held him in high regard and he’s getting his act together as the years go on.

“The Pertemps Final has got to be under consideration, he’s had a hard race but he’ll definitely have an entry and we’ll see what the handicapper does.

“Chasing next year will be his thing. We’ve always known he was an exciting horse and he’s proven that again today.”

You Wear It Well remains on course for a crack at more Cheltenham Festival glory in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle after running with credit in defeat at Doncaster last weekend.

Jamie Snowden’s charge produced her best effort as a novice at Prestbury Park when making all to see off 20 rivals in Grade Two company last March, scoring at generous odds of 16-1 under Gavin Sheehan.

She kicked off this term by getting the better of Luccia at Wetherby over two miles before being a well-beaten favourite in the rearranged Fighting Fifth at Sandown.

Snowden opted to step her up to an extended three miles in the Warfield Mares’ Hurdle, with a change of tactics deployed, as she was held up at the back early on.

You Wear It Well came through to challenge Marie’s Rock at the final flight but just found the 2022 Mares’ Hurdle winner too strong on the run-in.

“I think we just got beat by a better horse on the day in that set of circumstances,” said Snowden.

“It was our first try at the trip and the ground was a little bit quicker than ideal. It turned into a little bit of a sprint from three out and we had a bit of ground to make up.

“But Marie’s Rock is rated 150, we’re rated 140, we were carrying the same weight and we only got beat a length and a half, so it was a decent performance and I was glad to get that run into her, it was a nice run.

“The Mares’ Hurdle is the plan and we might look at the Warwick race (February 10) on route.”

Colonel Harry took full advantage of Trelawne’s wayward tendencies to continue a golden season for his jockey Gavin Sheehan in the William Hill Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby.

Sheehan has already won the Coral Gold Cup on Datsalrightgino, representing the same connections, the December Gold Cup on Fugitif and the dramatic King George on Hewick.

Jamie Snowden’s Colonel Harry had finished second to Le Patron in a Grade One over two miles at Sandown last time out and was racing over two and a half miles on this occasion.

This Grade Two had been previously run over three miles and while only four went to post over the new distance, all had claims.

Kim Bailey’s Trelawne attempted to make all but he continually lost ground by hanging markedly to his right and at one point was seemingly intent on heading to the car park on the home bend.

The fact he only went down by a length and three-quarters to the 5-4 favourite spoke volumes, with the winner having to fend off Trelawne’s renewed challenge on the run to the line.

“He’s done it well but Trelawne probably made it a bit easier for us,” said Sheehan.

“Our lad jumps great, he has the right attitude and he didn’t mind stepping up in trip there.

“It’s been brilliant of late, there’s no hiding that fact – I’ve had some great success and long may it continue.”

Hew Glyn Davies, of owners the GD Partnership, said: “I was delighted with that. Obviously it was a small field and the second horse is very good, we were worried about him.

“He travelled great but Gavin said he was ready for him when he opened out on the back straight and he didn’t really have to get into him.

“I think at Sandown he pecked at the first fence and lost his position, he was behind the ball the whole of the way. He got going late and, frankly, if it had been another few yards he’d have got there.

“The longer trip really helped, we’d been debating it, or Jamie had, for a while.

“I think the Scilly Isles (at Sandown) will be a possibility but Cheltenham is a question mark.

“We’ve had a great year so far with Datsalrightgino winning the Coral Gold Cup too.”

Kim Bailey lamented not fitting the runner-up Trelawne with cheekpieces.

“We tossed and turned as to whether to put cheekpieces on today, we gave him the benefit of the doubt but I wish we had,” he said.

“He did the same in his second novice hurdle at Exeter and he’s always been quirky, but he’s got a serious amount of ability.

“He’s a very talented individual, to go so close having run off the racecourse. He’s a winner without a penalty but he hasn’t picked up the prize money either! It’s a very frustrating situation.”

Man of the moment Gavin Sheehan is keen to see if his Ladbrokes King George VI Chase mount Hewick has the required class to shake up the big guns at Kempton.

Sheehan has seen his career gather momentum following his link with Jamie Snowden and the pair have teamed up this season to win the Coral Gold Trophy through Datsalrightgino, with Sheehan also landing the December Gold Cup on Richard Hobson’s Fugitif.

Shark Hanlon’s Hewick was ridden to Galway Plate and American Grand National glory by Jordan Gainford, but he is currently on the sidelines with injury and while Rachael Blackmore partnered him to win at Sandown in April she is riding at Leopardstown.

After surveying his options for a few days, Hanlon sided with Sheehan and the jockey is looking forward to another big opportunity.

“He’s a nice ride to pick up. You are up against very good horses, but we are there to take our chance,” said Sheehan.

“He’s very much a people’s horse now isn’t he, and I’m looking forward to him.

“He’s got a little bit of toe, he’s run around a sharp, right-handed undulating track so a sharp flat track shouldn’t bother him and he’s got stamina as well.

“It’s just whether he’s got that class, that is what we need to find out.”

He added: “Shark is bullish, but he always is! He said the horse is in great form, he did a piece of work the other day and really surprised him.

“It’s a big race on a big day and a big ride for me – I’m looking forward to it.

“Things are going well, but you can’t count your chickens before they are hatched in this game – you just take each day as it comes.”

Gavin Sheehan could be set for another Saturday in the spotlight having successfully appealed the 14-day ban he received at Huntingdon last month.

The 31-year-old was riding Lucy Wadham’s Zain Nights when the raceday stewards deemed the jockey failed to ask his mount for a “timely, real and substantial effort to obtain the best possible placing”.

Zain Nights and Wadham also incurred the wrath of the stewards with the gelding receiving a 40-day ban and his handler fined £3,000 for schooling and conditioning the horse on a racecourse.

However, at a hearing on Thursday an independent panel ruled in favour of both Sheehan and Wadham with their respective punishments quashed.

“It was something I didn’t think was ever going to happen, I felt the ride was good on the day and everything,” said Sheehan.

“But, it’s come this far and I’m delighted that we got the right result.”

The result of the hearing allows Sheehan the chance to build on the brilliant season he is enjoying alongside trainer Jamie Snowden and having partnered the Folly House handler’s Datsalrightgino to a famous Coral Gold Cup victory last weekend, has another pair of high-class operators waiting in the wings at Sandown.

The Irishman can now look forward to linking up with his Cheltenham Festival heroine You Wear It Well as she challenges Constitution Hill in the rearranged Fighting Fifth Hurdle, while he will also take the reins aboard highly-touted novice chaser Colonel Harry in the Betfair Henry VIII Novices’ Chase.

“Obviously I had a brilliant weekend last weekend and I’m now hoping for another one this weekend,” continued Sheehan.

“Things are going great and Jamie is definitely a trainer that is progressing and all it is is getting better horses. Better horses make life easier and he’s got them.

“It’s exciting that we’ve got Datsalrightgino who has just come out and won the Coral Gold Cup, but now we’ve got a contender for the Fighting Fifth and the Henry VIII.

“Things are going well and I know better than anyone that this game is a rollercoaster and things are going great now, but you can get put back down pretty quick.

“I’m just enjoying it at the moment, that’s what I’m trying to do, and trying to keep the ball rolling. You can’t take the foot off the gas now. Last week was brilliant, but that’s in the past now and I have got to look forward to my one ride tomorrow and doing my best on that and then look forward to Saturday.”

A member of the ground staff at Carlisle avoided serious injury in a nasty incident at the start of the seventh race on Thursday.

The man jogged across in front of the tape, but was still in the process of leaving the track when the tapes went up and was immediately knocked over as the runners set off, sent tumbling across the ground as the field galloped on.

A report from the stewards read: “An inquiry was held to consider the circumstances as to why a member of the ground staff had crossed the track at the start as the race was started resulting in his being knocked over by Euchan Falls.

“The clerk of the course, the member of ground staff, the starters and Gavin Sheehan, the rider of Euchan Falls, unplaced, were interviewed.

“Having heard their evidence and having reviewed video recording of the incident, the matter was forwarded to the head office of the British Horseracing Authority for further consideration.”

On a dramatic afternoon of National Hunt action, jockey Daire Davis was banned for 21 days at Ludlow for improper riding.

Daire was leading on Faha Belle in the fifth race of the day, but in moving right-handed – and about to take the wrong course – he clipped heels with Von Hallers who unseated David Bass. Daire corrected his mount to take the correct course, but in doing so ran into a group of other runners with his mount falling having gone through the rail.

Daire himself crashed into the Tom Bellamy-ridden Kit’s Coty, leading to Bellamy unseating.

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