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Impressive Irving cut to 7-2 for Supreme Novices Hurdle

Paul Nicholls felt vindicated in his decision to sidestep the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury with Irving after his star novice bolted up in the Dovecote Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday. The trainer felt that the combination of a large field and heavy ground could have damaged the horse’s Cheltenham hopes.

He had no such concerns at Kempton as Irving cruised alongside long-time leader Amore Alato before quickening clear under Nick Scholfield. It is now all systems go for Cheltenham with Irving now challenging Vautour for favouritism.

Nicholls received a further Cheltenham boost when Activial paid a huge compliment to his Newbury conqueror Calipto in the Adonis Hurdle. The grey had been beaten three and a quarter lengths by the Nicholls horse at Newbury and quickened away from his field in good style here.

Trainer Harry Fry was reluctant to commit the horse to the Triumph Hurdle immediately after the race but Coral were sufficiently impressed to cut his odds to 8-1. Calipto is currently 6-1 joint favourite with Le Rocher for the juvenile championship race.

There was also activity in the Grand National market after victories for Wyck Hill in the Eider Chase and On His Own in the Bobbyjo Chase. Wyck Hill was an expensive purchase last season for JP McManus but he had lost his form completely prior to today’s victory.

David Bridgwater was delighted to train his first winner for McManus and will discuss the prospects for Aintree with the owner. He is currently down at number 96 in the entries with 9st 10lb to carry.

On His Own justified odds of 11-8 to win the Bobbyjo Chase impressively for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh. Mullins felt that the victory entitles him to run in the Punchestown Gold Cup so it is no foregone conclusion that he will line up at Aintree either.

He has failed to complete for the past two seasons and is priced at 14-1 this year. Wyck Hill is a 33-1 shot for the Grand National with McManus having numerous options including Colbert Station and Double Seven.