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Ulster jockey's six of best

By Frank Brownlow

Published 30/01/2016

Going for gold: Djakadam should win at Cheltenham today ahead of Gold Cup glory bid
Going for gold: Djakadam should win at Cheltenham today ahead of Gold Cup glory bid

Ulster rider Brian Hughes looks to continue his rich vein of form with a strong book of six rides at Doncaster.

Hughes was on the mark with a double at the Yorkshire venue yesterday and today rides Ifandbutwhynot, Intense Tango, Ballydine, Coologue, McGregor's Cottage and Kalaniti.

All are decent sorts with McGregor's Cottage the stand-out performer.

The Hughes-ridden Thomas Brown (7-4 favourite) came home 10 lengths clear of Vintage Vinnie in a dramatic race for the Sky Bet Novices Chase yesterday.

The Tourad Man came down at the second fence, hampering Saint Roque, who was then pulled up.

That left just three in this extended three-mile contest and Thomas Brown was able to pick off long-time leader Vintage Vinnie from two out to strike for Hughes and trainer Harry Fry.

"It was a typical chase with a few incidents, but he's done it well. The ground is the key to him," said Fry.

"Where we go from here I'm not sure. He's got Cheltenham engagements but we'll go home, have a chat and make up our minds."

Hughes completed the double on Quill Art (3-1 favourite) to give Yorkshire's top Flat trainer Richard Fahey a second win over jumps this season in the Sky Bet Novices Handicap Hurdle.

It might not prove to be totally straightforward in what looks a decent renewal but only the brave will oppose Djakadam as he returns to Cheltenham for the BetBright Trial Chase.

The Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old was runner-up in the Gold Cup last season and builds up for another tilt at the blue riband on March 18.

Djakadam has already shown his well-being when making a winning reappearance in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown in December, easily brushing aside useful stablemate Valseur Lido.

Smad Place, Wakanda and O'Faolians Boy will ask a few questions, but he should prove hard to beat as he looks to cement his position as market leader for the March showpiece.

Thistlecrack is another with serious Festival aspirations after convincing victories in the Long Distance Hurdle and Long Walk.

Colin Tizzard's likeable eight-year-old stayer has looked the real deal in two outings so far this term and can harden as ante-post favourite for the World Hurdle by taking the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle.

Tizzard, who has Cue Card to look forward to in the Gold Cup, can also strike with Native River in the Timeform Novices Handicap Chase.

The six-year-old will be much more at home than he was at Kempton, where he failed to justify favouritism in the Grade One Kauto Star Novices Chase. Even so, it was not a bad effort in finishing third behind Tea For Two.

Belfast Telegraph

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