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Jewson contender Oscar Whisky impresses trainer but not punters

Oscar Whisky got off the mark over fences at Cheltenham on Friday however he is still 10/1 for the Jewson Novices’ Chase in March.

Nicky Henderson’s star was top-class over hurdles, winning two Grade Ones and finishing third in the 2011 Champion Hurdle as well as fifth in the 2012 World Hurdle.

He has gone chasing late on in his career but it is not something which has unduly worried Henderson.

After his win, the Lambourn trainer said: “I know it’s a bit late to be changing disciplines but I thought he jumped well today.

“Everyone knew it was going to be a tactical race and there was no point doing anything other than make the running, but one day I hope we’ll be able to get a lead.”

Bet on Oscar Whisky to win the Jewson at 10/1

There were just five runners in Friday’s 2m5f contest and Barry Geraghty dictated the tempo throughout.

Paul Nicholls’ Wonderful Charm was stalking the leader turning in but despite jumping the last almost alongside, it was Oscar Whisky who showed the best turn of foot to win by half a length.

Geraghty said: “He jumped a little to his right, not an awful lot. He has a lot of scope, was very clever and was as tough as nails at the finish.”

That assessment may be a little generous as, having dictated the pace throughout, Geraghty was able to leave plenty up his sleeve for a final sprint home.

The son of Oscar is a quicker horse than the runner-up and it should also be noted that he was receiving 8lbs from the runner-up.

Bet on Oscar Whisky to win the Arkle at 12/1

The Dai Walter-owned horse is also quoted at 12/1 for the Arkle, however that looks a much less likely target.

The horse lacked a bit of pace over that trip when third as a younger horse in the Champion Hurdle and there would surely be too much pressure on his jumping were he to be forced to go that sort of pace in the Arkle.

He hasn’t raced over hurdles over that distance since.

The Jewson is also the long-term target for Wonderful Charm and this slick jumper looks tailor-made for the race.

He is very straight and economical at his obstacles and it’s easy to see a scenario where this strong-traveller is still on the bridle turning for home.

He is 8/1 for the race and rates a better bet than his Friday conquereor.

Bet on Wonderful Charm to win the Jewson at 8/1

Personally I would be inclined to take on Oscar Whisky in whichever race he contests at Cheltenham, as whilst Henderson believes the horse loves running at Prestbury Park, the stats don’t entirely back up his theory.

Although the horse has won five times at the course, both of his Grade One wins came at Aintree and the Liverpool track arguably suits this speed-horse better.

A race like the Melling Chase in April – stepping out of novice company – looks the ideal race for the eight-year-old.