Eva’s Oskar put himself in the Welsh National reckoning following a hard-fought success in the featured Dahlbury Handicap Chase at a frosty Cheltenham on Friday.

The 8/1 chance, ridden by Alan Johns, jumped for fun in the three-and-a-quarter-mile event and had just enough to spare to thwart Spiritofthegames by half a length.

Cut to 16/1 from 33s by Paddy Power for the Coral-sponsored contest at Chepstow on December 27, it seems a natural stopping point for Welsh handler Tim Vaughan.

Vaughan said: “He has been super consistent this year. The only concern was the ground. Not that he can’t handle good ground, it is just [softer] slows everyone else down.

“He stuck on doggedly, so I’m delighted. It is nice for the horse, nice for Alan, nice for me, nice for the owners – who are lovely people – and it is great for everyone.

“He is in the Welsh National and it is definitely a thought. Why not? If it came up soft, we would definitely look at it. The view was if he didn’t come here and win, he wasn’t going to win a Welsh National. That is the rationale we had.”

However, Newcastle and Aintree are also in the thoughts. He added: “Obviously he needs to take another step forward, but a longer trip and softer ground would put more things in our favour.

“We’ll see, but in my head the Eider would be the race for him. It is just a little bit of a lower grade than the Welsh National, and possibly a Grand National would be a lovely dream.”

Scottish National on Skelton’s radar for Hidden Heroics

Hidden Heroics impressed under Harry Skelton to win by a clear margin

The Scottish Grand National was on Dan Skelton’s mind after Hidden Heroics (10/11 favourite) took the Cheltenham & South-West Racing Club Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase in a canter in the hands of Harry Skelton.

Dan Skelton said: “He jumped nicely, a little bit out to his right. I ran him at Aintree at the start of the season and dropped him in and he ran like a hippo with a hernia – he was awful.

“So we said we’d go an make the running over fences now and he’s two from two and hasn’t come off the bridle twice. He has not competed in the deepest races of all time but he has done what is required of him and he has had a clear round around Cheltenham which, as a novice, is not the easiest task in the world. So, we are very happy with him.

“We keep going as we are, find some novice handicaps and we’re not going to step up dramatically in grade, but come the springtime, we might look at something like a Scottish National.”

Nicky Henderson paid tribute to jockey Nico De Boinville’s timing as he made sensible fractions for a front-running success on Attacca (5/1) in the British EBF National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle.

Attacca (right) beat Master Chewy to make it two out of two over hurdles
Attacca (right) beat Master Chewy to make it two out of two over hurdles

Henderson said: “He was very slick. Nico’s clocking was brilliant. The horse does jump, doesn’t he?

“I think he does want another half a mile, but that is why we set those fractions and he set them well, too. I would think we will step him up to two and a half and ride a normal race next.

“The Sidney Banks would be a lovely race for him. We’ll see what happens over the New Year. He really enjoyed that and so did I.”

On a bitingly-cold afternoon, David Bridgwater ironically came off the cold list when Dame Du Soir was delivered with a perfectly-timed run by Lily Pinchin to win the CF Roberts Electrical & Mechanical Services Mares’ Handicap Chase by a head.

Punctuation made it four in a row since joining Fergal O’Brien as he defied a 6lb rise to take the Catesby Estates Handicap Hurdle by three and three-quarter lengths in the hands of Paddy Brennan.

On the eve of his 72nd birthday, Henderson celebrated a double on the card as Captain Morgs finished full of running to win the Citipost Handicap Hurdle ahead of Brazos and Annual Invictus.

James Bowen is all action as Captain Morgs wins at Cheltenham for Nicky Henderson
James Bowen is all action as Captain Morgs wins at Cheltenham for Nicky Henderson

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