Racing: Venn Ottery keeps the Festival dream alive

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The Independent Online

If it seemed eccentric to take on Moscow Flyer and Azertyuiop at Cheltenham with a horse who had run 23 times without getting off the mark it looks rather less so now that Venn Ottery has recorded his third victory in just over a fortnight.

The success, without coming out of third gear in a 2m 1f handicap chase at Newbury yesterday, was impressive enough for Coral to reduce the odds against him causing an almighty upset in the Queen Mother Champion Chase from 66-1 to 25-1.

The horse has been transformed by relocating from the yard of his permit-holding 85-year-old owner, Oliver Carter, to the professional setup of Paul Nicholls, but there remains an unconventional element to his Festival preparations - he is to run twice more in the next four days before having a week's break before Cheltenham. "He'll go to Market Rasen on Sunday and Hereford on Tuesday," Nicholls said, "and will be running off the same handicap mark of 117 that he was here.

"Its Oliver's dream to run him in the Queen Mother and I see no reason why not."

Venn Ottery was held up by Ruby Walsh until jumping to the front at the third-last. He was in control when standing off the second last and brushing through the final obstacle but it was otherwise a foot-perfect round by the 4-9 favourite.