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Bless now winging it instead of retiring.

RETIREMENT plans were put on hold for Bless The Wings after he revived his hopes of an outing in the Grand National with victory in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.

Although pulled up in both his previous two starts this season, the Gordon Elliott-trained 12-year-old thrives at Cheltenham and looked rejuvenated in claiming his first win in more than two years in the three-andthree-quarter-mile test.

Having carried Davy Russell to the front with ease, the 12-1 shot gamely held off last year's winner Cantlow by two and a half lengths.

Elliott said: "The track suited him today and Davy gave him a great ride, so it worked out grand.

"It was a great pot and he is not getting any younger, he has been placed in three Cheltenham Festivals so to win here today is great.

"We were a bit disappointed with his last couple of runs and we were thinking of retiring him, but it shows what these jumps can do for a horse. We knew we had him right and today was the plan, but I was a bit nervous the way he ran the last couple of times.

"If he got into the Grand National we would love to run him in it, but we will see what happens."

A trip to Aintree appears to be off the agenda for Robinsfirth, despite gaining his first win of the campaign when completing a double for trainer Colin Tizzard with victory in the Unicoin Group Handicap Chase.

Tizzard said of the 7-4 scorer: "He has always had a huge amount of talent. I think he has reached his powers in life. Even when he was in deep for a big horse he was neat and tidy."

Sizing Tennessee (2-1) could return to Cheltenham in March after getting the ball rolling for Tizzard with a six-length win in the Horse Comes First Novices' Chase.

Tizzard said: "We will probably run him a couple more times and he could be an RSA horse or a National Hunt Chase horse, those are the two races you would look at."

Tom Humphries saw his dreams turn into reality as the Nigel Twiston-Daviestrained Arthur's Gift (6-1) gave him his first Cheltenham winner when completing a hat-trick with a length and three-quarter success in the Citipost Handicap Hurdle.

The 7lb claimer said: "I've always dreamt of this moment. My grandmother, who is 82, lives opposite the open ditch. It has still not sunk in."

SARABAND'S SELECTIONS TODAY CHELTENHAM: 12.10 Apple's Shakira, 12.45 Movewiththetimes, 1.20 Gino Trail, 1.55 King's Odyssey, 2.30 Equus Secretus, 3.05 MELON (NAP), 3.40 Lamanver Odyssey.

DONCASTER: 12.00 One For Billy, 12.30 Clondaw Castle, 1.05 Poker School, 1.40 Irish Roe, 2.10 Rocklander, 2.45 We Have A Dream, 3.20 Sego Success.

HEREFORD: 12.20 Paddy The Oscar, 12.55 Vision Des Flos, 1.30 Shanty Town, 2.05 Ozzie The Oscar, 2.40 Court Minstrel, 3.15 Quiz Master, 3.45 Topofthecotswolds. NEWCASTLE: 12.40 British Art, 1.15 Mountain Bell, 1.50 Warm Oasis, 2.25 Bigbadboy, 3.00 King Kevin, 3.35 Windsor Cross, 4.05 Rene Mathis, 4.35 Windforpower.

WOLVERHAMPTON: 5.45 Street Sensation, 6.15 Hisar, 6.45 Pulsating, 7.15 Coronation Day, 7.45 Raashdy, 8.15 Andok, 8.45 Sword Exceed, 9.15 Peace Terms.

DOUBLE: King's Odyssey and Melon.

TOMORROW CARLISLE: 12.05 Big Thunder, 12.35 Tomngerry, 1.05 Arctic Vodka, 1.40 Nortonthorpelegend, 2.15 Another Bill, 2.45 Oak Vintage, 3.15 Birch Vale. CHELMSFORD: 12.45 Narjes, 1.15 Calypso Blue, 1.50 Huddersfilly Town, 2.25 TELLOVOI (NAP), 2.55 Arnarson, 3.25 Glenn Coco, 4.00 How's Lucy. SOUTHWELL: 12.25 Global Domination, 12.55 Farm The Rock, 1.30 Article Fifty, 2.05 Shannon Bridge, 2.35 Stepover, 3.05

Cabaret Queen, 3.35 Groundunderrepair. DOUBLE: Stepover and Tellovoi.

CAPTION(S):

Davy Russell riding Bless The Wings clear the last to win at Cheltenham racecourse
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Dec 16, 2017
Words:673
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