Gallery claims Wetherby glory
John Ferguson's exciting Flat recruit Whispering Gallery maintained his unbeaten record over obstacles with a smooth victory at Wetherby.
Winner of the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan for Godolphin in March 2011, the seven-year-old was then not seen for the best part of two years before making his jumping debut at the far less glamorous surroundings of Leicester in January.
After justifying odds-on favouritism with a smooth display, Whispering Gallery was again a warm order to follow up in theconistonhotel.com Ideal For Business & Pleasure Novices' Hurdle, sent off the 8/15 market-leader.
Ridden confidently throughout by Denis O'Regan, the son of Daylami's hurdling was not always fluent, but there were no serious alarms and he was travelling noticeably better than his nearest rivals rounding the home turn.
He was again a little tight at both the second last and the final obstacle, but his obvious class shone through on the run-in as he cantered clear to beat Bobowen by six lengths, with Deise Dynamo a further 12 lengths away in third.
Ferguson said: "I was very happy with him today.
"He's a horse who had undoubted talent on the Flat and for an older horse, I think he's made the transition to hurdling very well.
"He's had his two races now, at Leicester and today, and although he made one or two little mistakes, I thought today was overall a more professional performance than at Leicester and he's going in the right direction."
Whispering Gallery holds entries in all three novice hurdles at next month's Cheltenham Festival, and is also engaged in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, but Ferguson is in no rush to make definite plans.
"I think he's ready to go into a more competitive race now so we'll see how he takes this race and then make a decision on where he goes in the next week or so," said the trainer.
"I hope that when he gets into a race with a stronger pace and on better ground, he could be quite exciting."
Coverholder (5/4 favourite) completed a quick-fire hat-trick under Jonathan England in the Watch Racing UK On Sky 432 Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle.
Bought for 6,000 guineas by Sue Smith after winning a Catterick seller over Christmas for Tim Vaughan, the six-year-old is unbeaten for new connections and looking an extremely shrewd purchase.
England said: "He's a lovely horse. I was lucky enough to ride him first time at Doncaster, again at Kelso last week and again today.
"He's honest, he jumps and he keeps galloping, which is what you want.
"He's big enough to jump a fence."
Jockey Adam Nicol suffered a suspected broken collarbone when unseated from Doyenthedecenthing in the same race.
Donald McCain's newcomer Diamond King (2/1 favourite) looks destined for better things after making a sparkling debut in the concluding bumper, annihilating his rivals by 16 lengths and more in the hands of Jason Maguire.
Marie Des Anges (8/1) won an incident-packed Star Sports Cheltenham Preview Evening - 4th March Novices' Chase, in which six of the 11 runners failed to complete.
Tom O'Brien was stood down for the day after a fall on the fatally-injured Shinrock Hill.
John Wade and Wilson Renwick claimed the Tennants Antique & Fine Art Auctioneers Handicap Hurdle with 2/1 favourite Forty Crown, while David Pipe's southern raider No Secrets (2/1) claimed top honours in the Yorkshire Post Ladies Evening - 30th May Handicap Chase under Tom Scudamore.
Conditional jockey Dale Irving recorded his second win aboard James Ewart's 9/4 joint-favourite Wilde Pastures in the Stowford Press Cider Handicap Chase.