Peddlers Cross stays on course for Festival

The stage may have been local rep rather than the West End, but the performance lacked nothing in either execution or presentation. Peddlers Cross, third market choice for next month's Champion Hurdle, made his long journey from Cheshire to Kelso for his much-delayed final rehearsal for the Cheltenham prize well worthwhile. His victory in the Morebattle Hurdle was not a wholly effortless tour de force but, given his stop-start build-up, its style was more than satisfactory.

The six-year-old started at 1-6 to beat his eight inferior rivals, and duly landed the odds, by 11 lengths from his most credible opponent, Bygones of Brid. It was apparent for the whole contest that he was a class above; he jumped accurately and efficiently, he travelled comfortably and took the lead at will going to the final obstacle.

The result was never in doubt but, due to a combination of sticky ground and lack of an outing for 82 days – his planned warm-up was waterlogged off and then he succumbed briefly to a bout of coughing – he had, with a couple of firm slaps, to be firmly rousted by Jason Maguire on the testing uphill run to the line to maintain his superiority.

It was a case of job done, with a workout that will have been of far more benefit than a hard-held canter round. "He's been getting a little stale at home," said trainer Donald McCain. "We have built him up for two races recently only to miss both, and we had to switch him off a bit. He'll certainly come on for the run, physically and mentally; Jason said he travelled great and went to the front like a dream, but halfway up the run-in he started to look around at the stands and he had to remind him about his job.

"To be honest I've seen him a lot better, but I'm just glad to get a run into him. We needed to get that out of the way, and now we've got nearly a month to get him spot-on for Cheltenham."

Peddlers Cross, winner of a novices' contest at last year's Festival, is now eight for eight and maintained his position in the Champion Hurdle market in most lists at around 5-1, behind the 3-1 favourite Binocular, second choice Menorah and alongside Hurricane Fly.

To the great credit of McCain and his staff, their star, with due respect to the knowledgeable locals at the little Borders track, was turned out looking a picture, his mane and tail immaculately plaited and braided, doing the saltire on his numbercloth proud.

Peddlers Cross had Binocular back in third when he won at Newbury in November. The horse who split them, though, may not reoppose; Starluck will soon make his public debut over fences with a view to running in the Arkle Trophy. "He seems to enjoy them at home," said trainer Alan Fleming, "and we want to broaden our options with him."

Half a dozen Champion Hurdle long shots, headed by Walkon and Soldatino, turn out this afternoon in the rearranged Totesport Trophy at Newbury. The course has been declared safe for man and, more pertinently, beast after the surreal events last Saturday which left two horses dead in the parade ring. Post-mortems have revealed that poor Marching Song and Fenix Two suffered sudden cardiac arrest, consistent with electrocution.

The field for the Totesport Trophy is eight fewer than its original line-up, and though its prize fund has been reduced by half it is still a respectable £60,000. The bulk can go back to Ireland, courtesy of the Willie Mullins raider Sweet My Lord (1.50).

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Aiteen Thirtythree (3.00 Newbury) Impressed on his debut over fences and has the scope to take high rank in the staying novices' division.

Next best

Awesome Freddie (12.10 Newbury) Showed an admirable attitude to score on his handicap debut and may have enough improvement in him to defy his subsequent rise in the ratings.

One to watch

Strewth (J Best) Finished strongly to take third on his Lingfield debut last week at a long price. The cat may now be out of the bag, though.

Where the money's going

Punters have taken the hint over Final Approach, who swerves today's feature handicap at Newbury in favour of the County Hurdle. The gelding has been cut to 12s from 16s for the Cheltenham race.

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

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Beverley James: Accounts Payable

£22,000 - £23,000: Beverley James: Are you looking for the opportunity to work...

Beverley James: Accounts Assistant

£30,000: Beverley James: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a person looki...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower