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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
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

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?