Oscar enjoyed a brilliant 2014 and began 2015 in a similar vein when siring three winners at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
The G3 Betbright Handicap Chase went to the well-backed Splash Of Ginge (7g Oscar-Land Of Honour, by Supreme Leader) while former Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby (10g Oscar-Stony View, by Tirol) looked better than ever when winning the Dornan Engineering Hurdle. Oscar’s third winner was Rolling Maul (7g Oscar-Water Sports, by Maru) in the feature handicap hurdle.
The novice Splash Of Ginge (pictured), who finished runner-up in last season’s G1 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, took command two flights out to claim victory from Hunt Ball and come home to a rousing reception.
Bookmakers quote Splash Of Ginge, who was bred by Stewart Pike, at 16/1 for the G1 JLT Novices Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies was expecting a big post-race party with owner John Neild.
”John brought 50 people with him today in our bus,” Twiston-Davies told PA Sport. “I was with them last night and I’m dreading what will happen this evening. I imagine the landlord of The Hollow Bottom is already ringing for more beer as we speak!
“Last time Splash Of Ginge ran here he was storming along at the top of the hill but couldn’t get his undercarriage down. It will now be back to the novice route and the JLT is the one.”
Claimer Jamie Bargary stepped in for the ride, replacing the injured Ryan Hatch, and the winning jockey added: “I can’t say how thankful I am to Nigel to put me up in a race like this and have that much trust and confidence in me.
“I jumped off in a lovely position early on and he was just tanking with me everywhere, when we came down to the last I think he gave it about two foot. He was just brilliant, I can’t fault him, and I’m delighted for the owners, they are such nice people.”
Rock On Ruby came home to an equally big cheer after battling to see off Vaniteux to land the hurdle event over an extended two and a half miles under Noel Fehily.
Trainer Harry Fry is contemplating stepping the brilliant 10-year-old, who was bred by John O’Dwyer, up in trip for the G1 Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
“He’s still showing the younger horses how it’s done, he’s just great to have in the yard and he owes us nothing. It’s another wonderful day at Cheltenham,” said Fry.
“He’s got such a good record round Cheltenham that it would almost be a sin not to bring him here for the Festival. The one race for him would be the World Hurdle and it would mean a step up in trip. We’ll have to enter him and go from there. He’s jumping and travelling so well in his races.”
Fehily added: “Rock On Ruby is getting a lot more straightforward as he gets older. The ground was very tacky and testing today and there was a very strong headwind so I didn’t want to do all the donkey work on my own. I was in front plenty long enough, with that ground and headwind, but the horse just seems to be getting better. I think he won quite cosily today.”