Punjabi passes Champion prep in style

Practices, as we have learned recently, are not always perfect, but yesterday's passed without incident. First of all Punjabi warmed up for the defence of his Champion Hurdle title with an effortless success at Kempton and towards the end of the afternoon Gitano Hernando, a horse with the considerably more valuable prize of the Dubai World Cup in his sights, strode home in style at Lingfield.

In the past two weeks the supposedly unsinkable Denman, at 1-6, and Zaynar, at 1-14, have famously, or infamously, gone under. Punjabi, a Nick Henderson-trained stablemate of Zaynar, was judged the same degree of Titanic by the market as Denman, and stayed afloat. The seven-year-old faced five inferior rivals in a contest added to the programme more or less for his benefit and, having jumped faultlessly under Barry Geraghty, quickened away in the straight.

"He did what he had to, slickly and professionally," Henderson said. "He's had a bit of a blow afterwards but that's why we needed to do this and I'm grateful to those who arranged the race. Being here will have got his adrenalin going and he's showed that all the buttons still work when they're pushed."

But the fine line between triumph and disaster was apparent in one instant on the back straight. At the fourth hurdle Treaty Flyer came down, and only but for fortune did his flailing legs flick clear of Punjabi alongside before the favourite galloped away from the danger.

The Champion Hurdle market rightly barely rippled but waves crashed across that for another of the Festival Grade One features, the Triumph Hurdle, with the news that its leader, Mille Chief, is unlikely to run. The Alan King-trained four-year-old, who had been as short as 4-1, limped out yesterday morning. "He's hopping lame," King said. "Nothing has shown up in an X-ray but Cheltenham is very doubtful." Irish raiders Alaivan, Carlo Brigante and Secant Star now top the betting for the juvenile crown. Henderson, though, mustered a lively contender for the home side when Soldatino took advantage of Mille Chief's absence from the Adonis Hurdle, a race with a fine pedigree. It was the trainer's third success in four years in the Grade Two contest, after Punjabi and last year's Champion Hurdle third Binocular, and before that winners have included such as Kasbah Bliss, Penzance, Well Chief and Snow Drop.

There was the customary Saturday success for the Paul Nicholls yard when novice hurdler Escort'men and novice chaser The Nightingale, a possible contender for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham, both won by wide margins for Ruby Walsh. But the rider's effort to get down to his minimum 10st to partner the stable's Fistral Beach, favourite for the day's richest prize, the Racing Post Chase, came to naught when the gelding blundered and unseated him at the second.

The Grade Three three-mile handicap produced a tight finish as 11-1 shot Razor Royale, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, beat last year's winner Nacarat a neck despite going through rather than over the final obstacle. Paddy Brennan, who finished with his reins loose on his mount's neck, did well to sit tight and get home.

Although Kieren Fallon intends to mix it in the mud with his jumping colleagues at Cheltenham when he rides Old McDonald in the Festival Bumper, his day job was chief in his thoughts at Lingfield on Gitano Hernando. Like Punjabi, the four-year-old, trained by Marco Botti in Newmarket, was a Ferrari among Ladas yesterday. The chestnut oozed class on his first run since winning a Grade One contest at Santa Anita last October, streaking away from race-fit Suits Me to score at 1-2 in a time only fractions outside the course record, despite not being fully extended. "He's a very good horse," said Fallon, "and still improving."

A second contender for next month's $10m World Cup at Meydan, last year's Champion Stakes winner Twice Over, delighted his trainer Henry Cecil with a workout round a circuit of the all-weather track under Tom Queally.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
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

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears