Paul Nicholls recruit Zig spoils New Year's Eve rehearsal

 

Various disruptions to the racing programme since Christmas have left a very brief window in which horses can get a run, while retaining time to freshen up, before the Cheltenham Festival next month. Some of the best around, either side of the Irish Sea, will be undertaking their final rehearsals at Newbury and Leopardstown on Saturday – but in the meantime novices, in particular, are being urgently pressed on to lesser stages to redress a lack of experience.

Every day is duly bringing its bonuses, albeit some horses inevitably end up demeaning themselves in terms of performance rather than company. Step forward New Year’s Eve, beaten only by Champagne Fever in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at last year’s Festival and a promising second on his debut over timber at Kempton on Boxing Day. Sent off at 2-7 to win a maiden hurdle at Ludlow, he flattened the second last and then wandered badly as Ptit Zig saw him off by half a dozen lengths on the flat.

The disconcerting behaviour of the favourite, once off the bridle, makes it difficult to know quite what to make of the winner. The French import, receiving 10lb as a four-year-old, had not been given an entry for the JCB Triumph Hurdle by Paul Nicholls.

The champion trainer starts another juvenile recruit, Brinestine, in what could prove an instructive trial for that race at Huntingdon today. Last seen winning a Curragh handicap by eight lengths in October, he tests the Festival water against four previous winners in the 32Red Chatteris Fen Hurdle.

Nicholls introduced another costly youngster later on the Ludlow card, Mac’s Return having changed hands for £165,000 since winning an Irish point-to-point. But he tired badly in the testing ground and it was Nicholls’ title rival, Nicky Henderson, who instead saw One Conemara extend an unbeaten start to his own career. He took time to hit top gear but ultimately won going away.

There were also some promising sorts on view at Carlisle, where Eduard reiterated the impression that he is one of the top novices in the North by coasting home 29 lengths clear. Davy Russell, who had travelled over from Ireland for the mount, seems very taken with Eduard while predicting his eventual fulfilment over fences. The five-year-old’s trainer, Nicky Richards, with due circumspection, is inclined to sit out Cheltenham and head for Aintree via a good prize at Kelso.

Turf account

Chris McGrath’s Nap

Norwegian Reward  (5.05 Wolverhampton) Clearly not himself last time but had previously proved well ahead of his handicap mark for his new yard and a very promising partner clinches the deal in this  apprentice race.

Next best

Aragorn Rouge (5.35 Wolverhampton) Has become a little frustrating but the drop in trip and fitting of blinkers could prompt this strong traveller to click at last.

One to watch

King Massini (Evan Williams) Showed some ability at Ludlow yesterday and, now eligible for a rating, is in good hands to progress in handicaps.

Where the money’s going

John Gosden’s Lahaag has been chalked up as the 8-1 favourite with the sponsors for the William Hill Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster on 30 March.

News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer was final surviving member of seminal punk band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Sport
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Life and Style
beauty
Sport
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
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

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice