O'Neill keeps magic flowing

Jonjo O'Neill warmed up for what could a magical Saturday with a bloodless victory at Hereford after Ursis built on his fencing debut to land the totecourse to course Beginners' Chase yesterday.

Jonjo O'Neill warmed up for what could a magical Saturday with a bloodless victory at Hereford after Ursis built on his fencing debut to land the totecourse to course Beginners' Chase yesterday.

The Jackdaws Castle handler has been firing in winners all week and will give his Cheltenham Festival team a final outing at Prestbury Park this weekend.

Crucially, his tip-top form continues apace with Tony McCoy guiding 5-2 favourite Ursis home by five lengths from a tired Fountain Hill.

The champion jockey opened up a commanding advantage down the back of the track and his mount was still hard on the steel as his rivals toiled away two fences from home.

"He's a flying machine," smiled O'Neill. "He ran well here last time and was entitled to win. He has jumped really well and he is a great little fun horse. He could go to a novice race now with a penalty."

Lucifer Bleu shocked the crowd when romping home at odds of 28-1 following a 965-day absence in the totesport.com Handicap Chase.

David Pipe's eight-year-old had been off the track since June 2004 but bounded round the tight circuit to win as he liked under Andrew Glassonbury.

Last weekend's Wincanton winner Maletton, chasing a four-timer, found it one race too many and was a five-length second.

Alan King's Wyldello was only shaken up by Robert Thornton to take division two of the toteplacepot Maiden Hurdle by an easy six lengths.

The well-backed 2-9 favourite was patiently ridden and only hit the front at the last.

But she quickened in good style when seeing daylight and left Oldrik and Darizan to fight out second and third respectively.

King said: "I thought she should have won first time at Warwick but she didn't jump the last well and threw her chance away. "I do think she is good and ideally she wants two and a half miles on good ground.

"She will probably run somewhere next month and then go to Cheltenham, where she is in everything from two to three miles, or she could wait for the mares' final at Newbury." Newcomer Khasab and President Royal led home a Philip Hobbs one-two in division one.

The Hobbs pair pulled well clear after the third-last, but 4-1 shot Khasab soon forged ahead under Richard Johnson to record a three-length victory over the 6-4 favourite.

Robert Alner was on hand to greet Miss Mitch after the mare made amends for her Chepstow blunder in the totesport 0800 221 221 Mares' Only Handicap Hurdle.

The six-year-old crashed out when holding every chance at the Welsh track last month, but was foot-perfect this time.

Andrew Thornton produced the 7-2 chance over the last to thwart the challenge of 15-8 favourite Linnet by four lengths.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer