Former top staying chaser Don Poli is on course to bid for a third Cheltenham Festival success after securing his place in the Foxhunter with victory at Alnwick point-to-point on Saturday, writes Andrew
The 11-year-old, winner of the 2015 RSA for Willie Mullins a year after landing the Martin Pipe, made it two wins from as many starts in the sphere for Nick Pearce, after which he was cut to 16-1 (from 25) for the Foxhunter in March by Paddy Power.
Don Poli, who finished 19th in the Grand National last season before being pulled up at the Punchestown festival, got the better of a protracted duel with one-time Gordon Elliott-trained stablemate Killer Crow in the Mens Open under Tristan Durrell.
Owner Darren Yates, who bought Don Poli for £170,000 two days before the Aintree showpiece last April, said: "It's all systems go for the Foxhunter and I'm delighted to see him back enjoying himself.
The ground was really sticky and the race didn't really go as planned as we wanted him to get a lead a bit longer, but it fell apart and he was left in front.
"We thought we were in a bit of trouble when Killer Crow came to challenge at the last but Don took one look at him and off he went."