Jered stakes his claim to join top flight of hurdlers

Flat racing obeys Nature by treating spring as a time of renewal, and so introduces us to one of the Derby favourites at Nottingham today. For the jumpers, however, these are days of valediction. The Punchestown Festival will settle both the riding and training championships in Ireland, while the big race there today represents one last lap for one of the most honoured achievers of modern steeplechasing, Beef Or Salmon.

Yesterday, however, these contrasting themes were joined in Jered, who closed his first campaign over hurdles with a performance that already kindles excitement for next winter. The decision to miss Cheltenham last month has arguably been the making of Jered, who instead fed his confidence at Fairyhouse. He won with such flair there that he was sent off favourite for the VC Bet Champion Novices' Hurdle, even though his rivals included Fiveforthree, himself a winner at Cheltenham on only his second start over hurdles. This was partly because Fiveforthree was dropping back to two miles on faster ground, but also reflected the fact that Noel Meade, his trainer, has long considered Jered a star in the making. He will not be alone in that opinion now.

In what amounted to an admission of insecurity over this different assignment, Fiveforthree was immediately sent into the lead by Ruby Walsh. Far from drawing his rival's sting, however, he succeeded only in helping Jered to settle, and Fiveforthree had already been passed by Salford City when Cork All Star, who has jumped ineptly all season, fell three out. Tony McCoy always had the new leader covered, however, and sent Jered hurtling clear approaching the last. The sponsor, Victor Chandler, promptly cut his Smurfit Champion Hurdle odds from 25-1 to 12-1.

"We've always thought the world of him," Meade confirmed. "He jumped super and has a lovely turn of foot on good ground. Missing Cheltenham worked out as the ground wouldn't have suited him. I hope he'll go to the top next year."

This nudged Meade ahead of his rival for the trainers' title, Willie Mullins, but each has ample opportunity to keep a narrow lead changing hands until Saturday. In the riding championship Davy Russell has his work cut out after Walsh's win on Twist Magic in the Kerrygold Champion Chase extended the margin between them to six.

Twist Magic had run deplorably at Cheltenham but was always going best here, despite some fairly slipshod jumping. Things got pretty desperate on the run-in, however, when his stablemate Natal challenged grimly, and it was startling to hear that Nicholls plans to run him again at Sandown on Saturday. "This ground makes a massive difference to him, and the tongue-tie worked today," he said. "It's a good pot on Saturday and he'll be out in a field in a fortnight, so we might as well have a go."

Nicholls, of course, has long sealed the defence of his own training championship – a priority that has tended to confine his Irish raids in years past. But such horses as he has brought to Punchestown have been hard to beat, and he is optimistic that Neptune Collonges can retain the Guinness Gold Cup today after excelling in his supporting role behind Denman and Kauto Star at Cheltenham.

The third Grade One prize of the day was also plundered by the British, Air Force One jumping his rivals into submission under a bold ride from Noel Fehily. Charlie Mann, his trainer, had been dismayed by his performance at Cheltenham. "But he just could not jump out of the ground," he said. "I did the right thing by missing Aintree, and going to a Mickey Mouse race at Market Rasen. He came out of that jumping out of his skin after winning by 133 lengths."

Whether the claims made for Curtain Call during the winter have been similarly exaggerated may become apparent at Nottingham today when his reappearance – and first start since his transfer from Jessica Harrington to Luca Cumani – is screened by BBC2. This fixture is usually staged at Epsom, where building continues, and as such Curtain Call's race has forfeited its merit as an opportunity for reconnaissance of Tattenham Corner.

Curtain Call was considered over the top when disappointing in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, but had previously impressed in a Group Two race at the Curragh. He is as short as 10-1 second favourite for the Vodafone Derby with Coral, behind Twice Over on 4-1.

HYPERIONS SELECTIONS

CATTERICK 2.00 Syrup 2.35 Highland Laddie 3.10 Planetarium 3.45 Grand Value 4.20 Leyte Gulf 4.55 Kyzer Chief 5.30 Orotund

WORCESTER 5.35 Millitant Man 6.05 Doubly Sharp 6.35 Heebie Jeebie 7.05 Quinte Du Chatelet 7.35 Play With Fire 8.05 Blue Dark

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing