Minella Tara landed something of a gamble in the opening all-weather bumper at Lingfield on Tuesday. Featured in the Irish Pointers section of One Jump Ahead, the Kayf Tara gelding had been bought for £90,000 at the Goffs UK May Sale at Doncaster having fallen in his sole point for John Nallen. Available at 6/1 in places on Monday evening, Fergal O'Brien's new recruit was heavily supported and justified his backers confidence with a three parts of a length win under Paddy Brennan. While the four year old didn't look completely at home on the tight turns of the Surrey track, he stayed on well in the home straight and was value for more than the winning margin. O'Brien continues to go from strength to strength training 10 winners from 25 runners during the last fortnight and 42 for the whole season. Currently operating at a strike-rate of 24% this campaign, he is only 18 short of his personal best of 60 winners.
In other news, last season's Christmas Hurdle winner Verdana Blue has been purchased by Michael Tabor for 370,000gns to remain in training with Nicky Henderson. Two impressive winners from Newbury last week, namely Epatante and Fanion D'Estruval, received hefty hikes in the ratings. Nicky Henderson's filly was raised thirteen pounds and is now officially rated 150, while Venetia Williams' ex-French gelding is set to race off a mark of 149 in future following a twelve pounds rise. Top 40 Prospects entry Faustinovick has been allocated an opening mark of 126. Placed in both his races over hurdles so far this term, Colin Tizzard's five year old is better than that and his connections will hopefully exploit it.
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