Nice earner for Cab

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THE going was the key here yesterday as the fast-ground specialists came into their own, none more so than Cab On Target. The Mary Reveley- trained nine-year-old, who got stuck in the mud at Cheltenham last time out, demonstrated just what a high-class act he is with conditions in his favour by running away with the feature race, the Letheby & Christopher Long Distance Hurdle.

Peter Niven was content to keep Cab On Target off the pace on the first circuit as Bokaro set a scorching gallop, but going through Swinley Bottom second time had moved through the field and ranged alongside the leader on the home turn. He stretched clear over the last two obstacles to win the 16th race of his career and take his earnings to £115,000. Niven said: "On his day, he's an absolute star."

Bokaro kept on well to take second place, but Ascot specialist Sweet Glow, whose last four wins had all come here, found the going too lively and was caught close home by the flying finish of 66-1 shot Spring Marathon.

Cab On Target's win was the first leg of an unusual spring double, for his next run will be in the Whitbread Gold Cup (a handicap chase) at Sandown in three weeks' time. He has not run in a chase for 16 months, having reverted to hurdles this season after disappointing over fences. But Reveley has always rated him highly.

Seven Of Diamonds followed up his win at Newbury last Saturday by breaking the course record by 11 seconds in the Peregrine Handicap Chase, but was arguably lucky to land the spoils. The Irish-trained favourite Gale Again, brought over from Tipperary by Tommy Stack, was starting to hit top gear approaching the turn in when he was forced wide as Baba Riba faltered and was pulled up.

Gale Again did his best to get back in the race, but the winner, to whom he was conceding 27lb, had flown.

At Aintree the going is still soft, and Grand National favourite Master Oats will begin his final big-race countdown by schooling this morning over a specially-built replica of an Aintree fence. His trainer Kim Bailey reported the Gold Cup hero in excellent form, and added: "At the moment he's a definite runner, and as long as there is some cut in the ground he will be there."