Legend on road to Cheltenham

News of the pick of the action from Newbury where Dusky Legend took a step towards a return to the Cheltenham Festival.

Dusky Legend took her first steps towards a return trip to the Cheltenham Festival when stamping her authority over her rivals in the Whitley Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Newbury.

Having found only Limini too strong in the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle in March, the Alan King-trained six-year-old added to her first success over hurdles at Warwick in May when with an impressive four-and-a-length victory.

The winner is the 7/1 joint-favourite with Sky Bet to go one better in the same Grade Two next year.

King said of 11/8 favourite: "That was lovely. This has been the target for about two months. It was a valuable race and it was the ideal starting point for her.

"She loves good ground and I would like to get one more run into her before the weather changes, as I will not be running her through the depths of winter on bad ground.

"She is very uncomplicated and although she didn't do much in front I could not be more pleased.

"Her target will be the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle as her owners Richard and Lizzie Kelvin Hughes sponsor the race."

Hughie Morrison hopes there might be a decent prize further down the line for Major Mac after he made the most of a drop in class with a facile success in the Papa John's Pizza Newbury Novices' Hurdle.

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Facing just the two rivals, the 1/2 favourite – making his first start over hurdles since pulling up in a Grade One at Chepstow in January – barely moved out of second gear before coasting home by 21 lengths to initiate a brace for winning jockey Tom O'Brien.

Morrison said: "I really wanted to him enjoy himself. It was great to get a win into him. When I entered him I thought we would be running around to try and get a decent mark.

"He had a bit of an issue after his Chepstow run, but he has been running well on the Flat.

"I think that is as far as you would want to go with him and I would probably bring him back as he had the race run to suit him. I'd like to think he is up to winning a decent handicap."

There was further success for O'Brien after the Colin Tizzard-trained Sandy Beach (9/1) made a winning seasonal return in the bet365 Handicap Chase.

Peter The Mayo Man completed a hat-trick of wins for the campaign after making his first start outside of novice company a winning one in the KKA-Highpoint Handicap Hurdle.

With victories at Worcester and Warwick to his name this season the 13/8 favourite added the Berkshire track to that list when powering home by 11 lengths in the two-mile affair.

Although the six-year-old holds entries at both Wincanton and Sandown over the weekend trainer Neil Mulholland stressed that is likely to be it for the time being.

Mulholland said: "We will see how he is in the morning, but he is a big horse and is delicate. We will probably put him away and give him a few months off and wait for the nice ground in the spring.

"He pulled a few muscles in behind last season, but this year we've had a clear preparation with him. He jumped well today, better than he did at Warwick.

"He should make a nice chaser, as he is a big horse. He is still only a baby."

The Nicky Henderson-trained Burbank (3/1), sporting the colours of Simonsig, claimed a six-length debut victory in the Mount! By Jilly Cooper Standard Open NH Flat contest, while Bigbadjohn (7/4) handed trainer Rebecca Curtis another winner when seeing off Our Kaempfer in the KKA Highpoint Beginners Chase.

Patsys Castle (4/1) gave trainer Kim Bailey a winner when pulling out plenty from the front to follow up his recent Warwick success in the bet365 Handicap Hurdle.

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