Coulton won all right but his performance in being pushed out to give 8lb and a two-length beating to the less than brilliant Duke Of Monmouth in a slowly run contest was hardly the dazzling success his fans might have been looking for.
'Whatever beats him at Cheltenham will win,' his trainer Mick Easterby predicted afterwards but bookmaker reaction was divided. William Hill promoted Coulton to 9-2 clear favourite for the big race, but Ladbrokes pushed him out to 6-1 behind Muse at 5-1. Coulton may run at Haydock before Cheltenham.
The Arkle Challenge Trophy, the two-mile chase championship for novices at the Cheltenham Festival, looks more clear-cut. The race must be at the mercy of Sybillin following his comfortable one-and-a-half length win over Wonder Man. The seven-year-old, who joined Wonder Man at the last and then sprinted clear on the run-in, beat useful handicappers in the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot in January and is now unbeaten in five races over fences.
Milford Quay gave Martin Pipe his 1,500th success as a trainer when winning the Mitsubishi Shogun Trophy Chase at Chepstow. The 10-year-old, controversially disqualifed for carrying the wrong weight in a race in Ireland last April, made all.
At Newcastle, the day's big staying handicap chase, the four miles and a furlong Eider Handicap Chase, went to Into The Red who was was left clear when Whaat Fettle unseated his rider two out. The winner was landing a gamble from 7-1 in the morning down to
WILLIE SHOEMAKER and his family will receive a dollars 1m settlement from Ford Motor Co following the 1991 accident that paralysed the former jockey.