Hobbs Hil extends winning run over fences to four

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The top novice Hobbs Hill maintained his unbeaten run over fences at Ascot yesterday with a poignant success in the Grade Two Noel Novices' Chase. The eight-year-old, whose owner Peter Orton died last month, brought his record to four from four as he drew away under Tony McCoy to beat Battlecry by an eased-down eight lengths.

But neither of the Cheltenham Festival features in his division the Arkle Trophy and the Royal & SunAlliance Chase are on his schedule. "Two and a half miles is his best trip and we might consider the Ryanair Chase," said his trainer, Charlie Egerton, "but we could bypass the meeting."

One who will be going for Prestbury Park glory, though, is Deep Purple, and possibly the greatest glory of all. The six-year-old took his record over hurdles to five for five with a most competent display in the Kennel Gate Hurdle. "You couldn't not enter him for the Champion Hurdle," said his owner, Paul Green, "where there may be only 10 runners, as well as the Supreme Novices."

lAlan Munro, the Derby-winning Flat jockey absent for 16 months after suffering convulsions, has been given the medical all-clear to return and his riding licence should be rubber-stamped on Monday.