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Gordon Elliott and Dessie Hughes in early Cheltenham raid

Updated: Saturday, 20 Oct 2012 10:16 | Comments

Gordon Elliott served up a Cheltenham appetiser courtesy of Carlito Brigante
Gordon Elliott served up a Cheltenham appetiser courtesy of Carlito Brigante

Irish trainers Gordon Elliott and Dessie Hughes never need an excuse for a visit to Cheltenham and both were among the winners as Prestbury Park opened for business once again.

The Showcase meeting is serving as an aperitif for next month's Open meeting and Elliott invariably comes mob-handed, with his Carlito Brigante a narrow victor of an eventful squareintheair.com Novices' Chase.

The 2011 Coral Cup winner had got his chasing career started at Killarney in the spring and luck was on his side here with both long-time leader Go All The Way and the smooth-travelling Kingsmere coming down at the second-last fence.

This left Paul Nicholls' Domtaline as the one to beat but Carlito Brigante (5-1) and Davy Russell wore him down on the run-in and finished a short-head in front, surviving a stewards' inquiry when the pair got close.

"He seems to like Cheltenham and he has to have good ground, so I expect he'll come back here next month," said Elliott, who last month moved to a new stable, just 10 minutes away from his old one near Trim.

Richard Hughes took some time out from chasing the Flat jockeys' title to leg Bryan Cooper up aboard his father's Action Master (20-1), who came from a long way back to strike in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle qualifier.

"The horse wants good ground - he only got it once and was second, finishing fast in the Ulster Cesarewitch," said Dessie Hughes.

"He could come back for the Festival, and we'll tip away until then."

Nigel Twiston-Davies is fizzing with enthusiasm for The New One (evens favourite), who won the Aintree championship bumper and looked a smart sort in beating Village Vic in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle.

The local trainer said: "He's very exciting - as exciting as you get. He didn't get a clean run at the Festival, otherwise he'd be near unbeaten. He'll probably come back here next month."

A quick boost for the form came when Aintree fourth Court Minstrel (6-1) claimed the Lemington Maiden Hurdle.

The gelding does continue to perplex his handler Evan Williams, who said: "I can't remember running one horse in as many bumpers before, but he has still not learned to settle.

"He schooled badly and was guessy early on today, although you can see he has lots of natural ability."

Twiston-Davies had a double when 7-2 favourite Hunters Lodge clung on to the Talk To Victor Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase.

However, a subsequent inquiry led to the stewards ruling that all but one of the 17 riders, including Sam Waley-Cohen and Nina Carberry, had disobeyed the starter. The stewards were unable to interview winning rider Ryan Hatch.

Those found in breach of the rules were handed one-day bans.

Nicholls was thrilled with the performance of Sire Collonges (4-1) in the Bruton Knowles 150th Anniversary Novices' Chase.

"I really think he could be anything and he will either come back here in a month or run at the Hennessy meeting," said the champion trainer.

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