Wholestone fights for Jacob

Wholestone handled the testing conditions in admirable fashion to grind out victory in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Wholestone chases down Ami Desbois at Cheltenham

Persistent rain made the three-mile contest a real stamina test but they went a sensible pace, made by Ami Desbois with Wholestone going a close second after the first half-mile.

All six horses were still in contention at the second-last, where West Approach made a bad mistake that cost him his chance, although he did rally.

Wholestone (13/8 favourite), trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, had to dig deep for Daryl Jacob to gain the verdict by a length from the game runner-up Ami Desbois.

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Jacob, limping after getting a kick when falling aboard King's Odyssey in the previous race, said: "He's a very tough horse, he's getting better and better with every run.

"We were a little bit worried about the soft ground, but he coped with it well. It's getting very soft."

Successful trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies was delighted with the performance and added: "He's a very similar type to Blaklion, who won this race a couple of years ago – he's a grinder who is improving with experience.

"I imagine we'll look for another race for him before the Cheltenham Festival now."

Wholestone was trimmed by Sky Bet from 20/1 to 16/1 for the Festival contest of the same name as this race.

Spokesman Michael Shinners commented: "The market for the Albert Bartlett isn't the easiest to unravel at this stage, but Wholestone again showed a very likeable attitude and evidently stays the trip well."

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