sport

Outlaw fast on the draw

A familiar set of colours were seen in the winner's enclosure after Cheltenham's cross-country race but for a different trainer and jockey.

Owner JP McManus has dominated this unusual discipline over the last decade, with Enda Bolger preparing Spot Thedifference and then Garde Champetre for success over the banks time after time.

Outlaw Pete was trained by Bolger until this year but now represents John Halley and his son Josh, who guided the eight-year-old over the varied obstacles and through the heavy ground to score by seven lengths from Bostons Angel.

The Glenfarclas-sponsored series, which culminates at the Cheltenham Festival, is due a new star and Outlaw Pete (7-2) appears young enough to keep improving, with Paddy Power making him the 6-1 joint-favourite along with Uncle Junior, who took an uncharacteristic fall here.

Halley jnr, a practical design student at the University of Limerick, claimed a handy 7lb from Outlaw Pete's back, while his father is primarily a vet in County Tipperary, with Coolmore among his clients.

John Halley said: "Other fellows play golf for fun, we do point-to-pointing.

"This is the only track, isn't it? It's wonderful to have a winner here and we're very grateful to JP for letting us keep him.

"He ran well here at the last meeting (third) and he loved the track and conditions. Conditions won't be the same in March, but God willing, we'll be back."

Jessica Harrington was delighted with the performance of Bostons Angel, who has lost his way over conventional fences since winning the 2011 RSA Chase, and said: "He's had problems but this gave him a new lease of life and hopefully he'll come back in March."

Another winner in the green and gold silks came later on when Tony McCoy helped 11-4 favourite At Fishers Cross achieve a quick hat-trick in the Citipost Handicap Hurdle.

The ground certainly separated the wheat from the chaff, but they do not come much tougher than Master Overseer (11-1), who secured the second valuable prize of his career in the Grade Three Majordomo Hospitality Handicap Chase.

A winner of one of the calendar's most demanding races earlier this year - the Midlands National at Uttoxeter - he showed an incredible amount of willing for Tom Scudamore to fight back past Quartz de Thaix on the run-in.

"He's the slowest horse in the yard, but he's the most honest," said trainer David Pipe.

"It helped that Midnight Chase was withdrawn, as he could be out in front on his own. Even if they race was over six miles, he'd keep going.

"He's getting to the level where we'd have to think about the Grand National, he just might be too slow for it."

Paul Nicholls was pondering a shot at February's Betfair Hurdle after Dark Lover skipped 16 lengths clear in the CF Roberts Electrical Mechanical Services Handicap Hurdle.

The 9-2 favourite won on his return from a layoff at the October fixture before finishing in mid-division in the Grade Three at the Open meeting.

"I think I might have run him back a bit quick the last day as he seems best when he's really fresh," said Nicholls.

"He'll be entered for the race at Newbury and it might not be the stupidest thing to run him in, otherwise I'll look for something after Christmas."

Leading northern trainer Donald McCain corrected a surprising omission from his CV through Super Duty (9-4) in the Shloer Novices' Chase.

Jason Maguire's mount, beaten by several useful sorts in his previous outings over fences, ended up winning by 13 lengths.

"It's my first winner here away from the Festival, but to be fair we don't have many runners," McCain said.

"Jason felt he wasn't jumping out of the ground and he won't run on that again. I thought he might be a Jewson horse, but from what Jason says, he might be more like an RSA horse."

Venetia Williams maintained her excellent form through the enormous Plein Pouvoir (12-1) in the Caspian Caviar Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Chase.

The Herefordshire trainer said: "He's the biggest horse I've ever had to put a saddle on - he's 18 hands.

"He has appreciated the cut in the ground and essentially he's a three-miler taking on a stiff two miles and five.

"You'd love to see him run in the National, but I think that's something I will have to persuade the owner about first."