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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Meganisi prospers at NewburyHeadlines
Tony McCoy on Meganisi winning Newbury's opener

Meganisi kickstarted Newbury's Winter Festival with a game defeat of Aaim To Prosper in the Sportingbet Novices' Hurdle at Newbury.

Rebecca Curtis' 7-4 favourite, who was also smart on the Flat but already quite experienced at hurdling, spent most of the race disputing the lead dual Cesarewitch winner Aaim To Prosper, the 15-8 second-best in the market. However, the latter was having his first try at jumping and was a little hesitant at some of the flights, and Tony McCoy pushed his mount three and a quarter lengths clear.

Curtis' partner Gearoid Costelloe said: "He's a nice horse and AP said that two miles is his perfect trip for now. We'll have to sit down and discuss things, but he deserves to go into a Graded race now."

Parsnip Pete was welcomed back by the happy members of The Parsnips after he continued on the upgrade in the Burges Salmon Novices' Limited Handicap Chase.

The race was really trainer Tom George's second preference but he had no complaints as the 5-2 favourite added to his success at Haydock a month ago. McCoy and Kruzhlinin made a brave fist of leading throughout the trip of just over two miles, but Paddy Brennan and Parsnip Pete finished with purpose and were a length and a half too strong.

George said: "I wanted to run on Saturday but I wasn't allowed - it's a big meeting of the Beaufort Hunt and the owners are local to the area. The horse has taken quite a long time to come together, he was very keen as a young horse but has done it nicely today. He won't run for a month."

Nigel Twiston-Davies would like African Gold (8-1) to make up into a Cheltenham Festival prospect following his striking victory in the CSP Novices' Handicap Hurdle.

Now a winner of three of his four starts under Rules, the four-year-old could be spotted making stealthy progress behind the leaders turning for home and was alongside the well-backed Faultless Feelings by the second-last. Although conceding the rail to his rival, the trainer's son, Sam, got a better tune out of his mount and came home three and a half lengths in front.

"You'd hope he might end up as a long-distance Cheltenham novice type," said Twiston-Davies snr.

"I think he's a nice horse. He's still quite green and would appreciate better ground."

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