Down finds Key To Milan
Colin Tizzard warmed up for Cheltenham by saddling a double at Wincanton on Thursday afternoon.
The Sherborne trainer cut a twitchy figure as he readies stable star Cue Card for the Ryanair Chase and a small supporting cast in other events, but there are still bread-and-butter horses to saddle and owners to keep happy.
The scarved masses of the Chasing Gold Racing Club were thrilled with Tizzard and jockey Brendan Powell as Jumps Road (9/1) recorded a double at the Somerset course in under three weeks in the Bathwick Tyres Salisbury Handicap Hurdle.
"The pressure's on, isn't it?" said Tizzard. "No matter what people say, Cheltenham's important."
Jumps Road, only back over the smaller obstacles this year, battled a neck ahead of Chesil Beach Boy and could have his own festival date.
Tizzard said: "He's not the biggest horse and when we got to Christmas we thought we'd go back to hurdles and keep him as a novice over fences.
"He's handled heavy ground but the way he works makes you think he'd like it quicker. Two miles is his trip and there might be a race at Aintree for him."
Outwardly more relaxed was another trainer with major Cheltenham aspirations, Harry Fry, who collected his 10th and 11th winners of 2013 in the divisions of the Bathwick Tyres Poole Maiden Hurdle.
Much the more expected was 5/4 favourite Karinga Dancer, who strolled clear under Noel Fehily in division two and provided a helpful boost to the chances of defending Champion Hurdler Rock On Ruby.
"He has been Ruby's work companion for the last three weeks," Fry said.
"Obviously it gives you confidence. He had to have a year off, and it has done him good. We should have some fun with him, and he'll be a nice chaser next season."
Chemistry Master (16/1) had shown little encouragement either for Fry or on the Flat with Jeremy Gask, but in-form conditional Ryan Mahon pushed him four lengths clear of Rayvin Black.
"We knew he'd stay and it wasn't the strongest race in the world so I just told Ryan to be positive," Fry said.
"He's the sort to keep on the go through the summer."
A severe punishment was waiting for jockey Giles Hawkins from the stewards after he kept Key To Milan (9/2) up to his task in the Bathwick Tyres Dorchester Handicap Hurdle when he was given a 15-day ban for using his whip above the permitted level (March 21-28, March 30-April 5).
"I thought the ground had gone against him," said trainer Chris Down straight afterwards.
"He gets lazy in front and I imagine we'll carry on through the spring. I'd imagine he'll go chasing in May."
Another who will wait for the better horses to take a break is Danimix (15/2), who benefited from the early fall of 4/9 favourite Ruben Cotter to finish 26 lengths clear of one remaining rival in the Bathwick Tyres Bridgwater Novices' Chase.
Trainer Anthony Honeyball said: "It was plenty soft enough for him. He's a big stuffy horse who won well at Worcester in the summer but got a nasty little injury straight away.
"This was the right sort of race and hopefully he'll improve a bit for a spring and summer campaign."
Little Jimmy (4/6 favourite) is proving a fabulous servant to Tom Gretton's stable, rattling off a quick hat-trick in the Bathwick Tyres Yeovil Handicap Chase.
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