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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Wishfull regains winning threadHeadlines
Wishfull Thinking is a class apart from his Cheltenham rivals

Wishfull Thinking justified 8-11 favouritism in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham.

This two-mile heat lost much of its lustre following the defection of Sprinter Sacre, but it was hard not to be impressed by Philip Hobbs' inmate.

Despite having made a hash of the first fence, the Richard Johnson-ridden Wishfull Thinking jumped cleanly thereafter and had 18 lengths in reserve of Doeslessthanme at the line.

Hobbs said: "I'm delighted. The main problem for a long time has been his breathing - he's had three breathing operations. But this season he has been better with his breathing. We had a scare at the first fence, but he did it well. The Peterborough Chase (Huntingdon, December 13) is now the obvious race - that's definitely an option."

Johnson said: "We had a big scare but he jumped really well."

Coneygree made all of the running to win the Grade Two Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle. The Mark Bradstock-trained five-year-old (8-1) added to his gains at Uttoxeter earlier in the month with an eyecatching display from the front in the hands of Mattie Batchelor.

Batchelor said: "He's got a long way to go, but he'd almost give you a better feel than Carruthers. It wasn't a rubbish field - they are all there to be shot at. I jumped the last and he went away again."

Bradstock, whose inmate is a half brother to the 2011 Hennessy winner Carruthers, said: "It doesn't look much fun out there on the ground. It was a brave performance to go out there and make the running.

"He's a completely different stamp of a horse to Carruthers. Carruthers is only 16 hands and struggles to carry a big weight, whereas you'd hope this fellow could as he looks a proper chaser.

"You could look at either the two-and-a-half (Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle) or the three-miler (Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle) back here in March."

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