Wilde About Oscar claimed a fourth victory over hurdles when taking the Burton Union Handicap Hurdle at Uttoxeter for Dan and Harry Skelton.
The six-year-old won on his hurdles debut at the track in October and was victorious again at Aintree before stepping up to Graded calibre when contesting Newbury’s Challow Novices’ Hurdle in late December.
A mistake at the seventh hurdle put paid to that plan as the gelding was pulled up, but a subsequent run at Exeter did produce Listed honours and the son of Oscar looked in fine fettle once again when winning by three-quarters of a length as the 9-5 favourite at the Midlands track.
“He’s a really honest little horse,” Harry Skelton said.
“His jumping has just got better and better with each run and he’s really progressed.
“He can definitely progress even further next season.”
Ask Me Early cruised to a comfortable victory in the three-mile 1834 Novices’ Handicap Chase after trainer Harry Fry vetoed a previously mooted run in the Midlands National itself.
The grey won on his debut over fences at Chepstow and followed up with a second victory at the same track in January, but a subsequent run at Sandown resulted in disappointment as the gelding was pulled up when never really travelling.
That performance was clearly forgotten at Uttoxeter as the seven-year-old ran with his previous zest and jumped fluently under Sean Bowen to record a two-and-a-quarter-length triumph.
“He’s been so progressive in his first two starts over fences, from the word go at Sandown he was never travelling or jumping with the same enthusiasm,” Fry explained.
“We got him home and he was very sore through his back and we diagnosed kissing spines, which we’ve treated.
“He roared right back to form today, he’s a real out-and-out galloper and jumps for fun.
“Truth be told, I was training him for the Midlands National today, but when we flopped at Sandown I thought I couldn’t aim that high.
“This is a lovely race for him and it’s great to see him bounce back to form, he’ll be a lovely second-season chaser to look forward to next season.”
Saint Dalina followed up a course-and-distance victory in December with another Uttoxeter success when taking the Marstons Brewery Handicap Hurdle for Charlie Longsdon and Tom Buckley.
Travelling fluently throughout, the mare was only challenged by Tim Vaughan’s Tight Call after clearing the final obstacle, but was able to hold on as the post approached to prevail by a neck.
“I’ve ridden her a few times and I really like her attitude,” Buckley said.
“She’s an out-and-out galloper and I can’t wait until she goes over fences – she’ll be even better then.
“To be fair to her, coming here today, the ground’s a bit quick for her, but she’s kept her head down, the cheekpieces have worked and she’s done it nicely.”
“She’s tough, she’s been a massive improver this season,” Longsdon said.
“I sort of aimed at this race thinking it was a lady riders’ race but obviously it got changed, but she’s gone and done it nicely.
“It was hard work, but she’s done a good job.”
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