Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle
|Grade 2, Cheltenham 15:10
2m 4f 56yds, Class 1
|Monday 1st January 2018
1 Wholestone 9/4J
Colin's Sister 9/4J
8 ran Distances: 3¼l, 3¼l, 2½l
Time: 5m 17.70s (slow by 30.70s)
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and Daryl Jacob celebrated separate doubles on the day when they combined with Wholestone
, the 9/4 joint favourite, who is fast becoming a Cheltenham specialist.
The seven-year-old, owned by Jacob's retaining owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, was held up before coming through to lead before the last on the stands' side.
He ran on strongly to hold the fast-finishing Agrapart
(Nick Williams/Lizzie Kelly, 4/1), last year's winner of this race, by three and a quarter lengths, with the other 9/4 joint favourite, Colin's Sister
(Fergal O'Brien/Paddy Brennan) another three and a quarter lengths back in third.
This was Wholestone's fourth Cheltenham victory from seven starts at the Home of Jump Racing and he has never finished out of the first four here.
Twiston-Davies said: "That is the best he has jumped, travelled and gone for a bit.
"He was a little bit sick and sorry for himself after Newbury last time. I am really chuffed to bits with that performance.
"I imagine it will be one more run and then back here for the Stayers' Hurdle
(at The Festival in March). He ran really well at The Festival last year and he was the best of the English runners in the Albert Bartlett
"The Stayers' is a race that is looking a bit more open than some of the others and we will definitely have a look at the Cleeve
back here at the end of this month (January 27)."
Munir was delighted: "Wholestone obviously relishes the track and did that very well. I am enjoying the dream while the horses are in good form."
Jacob said: "Last time at Newbury
, he wasn't the Wholestone I had sat on in the past and I just looked after him there.
"We got him checked out at home and came here. He powered into the race today, felt beautiful and I got there too soon, but I wanted to get the rail which is a big help in this ground.
"He is a good classy horse and was a very good novice last season - it was a good performance today.
"I have the two best bosses in the world - Simon and Isaac - and they give me a lot of confidence. I am really, really enjoying my racing."
Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle (Grade 2)
£50,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 4f 56yds, Class 1
Going: Heavy, Soft in places
||Wholestone (IRE) 9/4j
||D A Jacob
|N A Twiston-Davies
||Agrapart (FR) 4/1
||Colin's Sister 9/4j
||P J Brennan
||Old Guard 9/2
|P F Nicholls
||Royal Vacation (IRE) 12/1
|C L Tizzard
||Anteros (IRE) 40/1
|Mrs S Leech
||Rayvin Black 28/1
||Qualando (FR) 66/1
|A E Jones