Otago masters Sandown rivals

A review of the rest of the action from Sandown as Otago Trail gave a significant boost to Bristol De Mai's Haydock form.

Grand National entry Otago Trail, runner-up to Bristol De Mai in the Peter Marsh at Haydock last month, won the Betfred Masters Handicap Chase by two and three-quarters of a length from Loose Chips.

Trainer Venetia Williams said of the 4/1 chance: "It is a race that we've won before and it is always a nice race to come to when you have the soft ground and others are focusing on Cheltenham.

"It was really nice for him to win and he deserved to be top weight on what he has done before.

"If he comes out fit and well we will certainly look at other options for him."

Willy Twiston-Davies enjoyed a notable success back over jumps after taking a break from the Flat when he steered Lord Of The Island home in the Betfred Mobile Heroes Handicap Hurdle at Sandown.

The younger brother of top jockey Sam, Twiston-Davies had to keep plugging away on Lord Of The Island (10/1) in what was a war of attrition.

The near-three-mile trip took some getting and Twiston-Davies always had Fergal O'Brien's nine-year-old close to the pace before taking it up and going on to beat Fortunate George by six lengths.

O'Brien's assistant Sally Randall: "Willy Twiston-Davies has done a fantastic job and rode him absolutely perfectly.

"We knew this horse was a bit well in (at the weights) and that he would like the ground and would stay all day long.

"He had his legs fired but we thought he was worth a gamble.

"We've not looked back. He has been super."

Coeur De Lion enhanced his Cheltenham Festival prospects after he ground out victory at Sandown.

Ridden just behind the early pace that was cut out by Accord, the Alan King-trained four-year-old moved into the lead of the Betfred-sponsored novice hurdle on the run to the final flight, where he was swiftly joined by favourite Rather Be.

But the 7/4 shot pulled out just enough up the run-in to deny the market leader by a head and go one place better than his previous visit to the track.

King said: "When I walked off the stands, the big screen had the top one (Rather Be) as the winner and I nearly had a heart attack coming down here. Luckily, they corrected it quickly.

"He toughed it out well. He goes in this ground but he would not want it this soft.

"He was getting a bit of weight off the older horse of Nicky Henderson's (Rather Be), but I'm happy with him.

"He might run in the Triumph. I've got to split them up somehow and we have to run something in the Triumph. I'm not ruling it out."

Coeur De Lion was trimmed from 33/1 to 25s for the Triumph, but he is among the favourites at 16/1 for the Fred Winter at the Festival next month.

Grey Gold rolled back the years to claim the Betfred-sponsored handicap chase for a second time.

Having landed the race in 2014, the 12-year-old grey showed he is still a force to be reckoned with at the right level to strike for the first time since November 2015.

Grey Gold, trained by Kerry Lee, kicked on at the third-last and responded well to pressure to hold off 3/1 favourite Dream Bolt, who was on a four-timer, by two lengths.

Tom Lee, brother of the winning trainer, said: "I think the absolute key, and what is vital to him, is two miles on this very testing ground. Where it inconveniences others, it really plays to his strengths. Anything beyond two miles and the petrol runs out.

"He is dead easy to train. He has had two runs this season. He run a very good race at Wetherby on quicker ground up there.

"That just found him out slightly but it put him spot on for this. If it rained and rained we could give him a speculative entry in the Grand Annual as the strong gallop from the word go would suit him."

Read More at Sporting Life

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