Bishopsfurze looks real Festival force

The clouds that lingered so coldly over the Turf in midwinter have begun to reveal their silver lining, with trainers now finding themselves obliged to get a run into Cheltenham Festival candidates literally any day of the week. Today, for instance, the North's leading candidate for the RSA Chase shows up at Bangor-on-Dee, while yesterday two of the strongest stables either side of the Irish Sea were simultaneously fielding candidates for the big novice hurdles at the Festival.

Bishopsfurze looks of particular interest, following his easy win at Clonmel for the flourishing partnership of Willie Mullins and Paul Townend. True, he cannot afford to jump at Cheltenham the way he did the last two flights, when lucky to keep his feet, but it is worth remembering his storming finish after being hampered in the Champion Bumper last year. Predictably enough, given their trainer's form, the only horse able to go with him into the straight was his stablemate, Skorcher, but Bishopsfurze saw him off readily by seven lengths. The winner certainly did not look short of pace, and the two miles and five furlongs of the Neptune Investment Hurdle – for which he can still be backed at 25-1 – would seem preferable to the stiffer test of the Albert Bartlett. "I thought he was gone at the second last," Mullins admitted. "Paul said he was idling in front, that he travelled so well he had to go. He showed today that he has a real engine."

Within five minutes, at Wincanton, Nicky Henderson was welcoming back Gibb River after he had shrugged off a double penalty at odds of 1-9. He will go for the Stan James Supreme Novices' Hurdle, for which he is 25-1 with the sponsors. Today Henderson sends Rackham Lerouge to Bangor as one of just two runners prepared to take on Wymott, whose trainer, Donald McCain, chose the venue for his Festival rehearsal on account of "the fantastic job they do with the ground".

In a rather more sumptuous arena, Gitano Hernando made only a reasonably pleasing comeback at Meydan last night. The Newmarket raider was set plenty to do and kept on at one pace for fifth in the second round of the Maktoum Challenge. The race was won in devastating fashion by Bold Silvano, a top-class performer in South Africa who will be prepared for next month's Dubai World Cup by Mike De Kock.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Kealshore Boy (2.15 Catterick) Remains unexposed over fences and has a history of going well fresh.

Next best

King In Waiting (3.50 Catterick) Has first start for a trainer making a big impression.

One to watch

Sun Des Mottes (David Pipe) Stayed on nicely from rear at Hereford on Sunday.

Where the money's going

Alfie Spinner is 8-1 from 9-1 with the sponsors for the Totescoop6 Heroes Handicap Hurdle at Sandown tomorrow.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

Recruitment Genius: Factory Operatives

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer ba...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003