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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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West proves best by farHeadlines
Far West has the race in the bag

Far West emerged a facile winner of what ended up a match race for the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham.

Paul Nicholls' juvenile is the leader in the sphere and only had Handazan to beat when Mr Lando departed early on, the 2-9 favourite repeating the outcome of the pair's previous meeting at Chepstow as he cantered 19 lengths clear in the hands of Ruby Walsh.

Nicholls said: "He could do with a stronger gallop as he's a real stayer. He's hardly done anything since his last run and will maybe come back here in January and then go for the Triumph."

Coral make Far West their 6-1 Festival favourite, with Betfred bigger at 10s.

The Jenny Mould Memorial Handicap Chase produced a thrilling finish between the sport's top two names.

Walsh and 11-4 joint-favourite Shooters Wood appeared well on course to repeat last month's victory until a charging Tony McCoy and His Excellency joined him up the run-in. The former found more in a pulsating battle and scored by a length and a quarter.

Nicholls, on the way to a four-timer, said: "We haven't had him long and he has just improved and improved. He's idle and Ruby just said he waits for something to come alongside and he goes again. He could have a break before the Grand Annual back here."

Mud-lover Highland Lodge (2-1) ended up taking the Ryman Stationary Novices' Chase by 22 lengths after this race also developed into a duel.

Barry Geraghty's mount sat alongside Our Father and when push came to shove, the highly rated hot favourite could not match Highland Lodge and was beaten hands-down.

Jonathon Lavelle, part-owner and also brother of trainer Emma, said: "Soft ground is the key to him. He jumped beautifully in only his third chase and if by any chance it came up heavy at the Festival we'd have a serious chance. I rather doubt it though!"

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