AHOY Senor is firmly back on the Gold Cup trail after victory in the Cotswold Chase, although he will need to find significant improvement on the clock to feature in the finish on the final day of the festival.

To his credit, Lucinda Russell’s gelding was the only winner to come from behind over fences, although he was aided by Sounds Russian bulldozing his way through the fourth last fence, as Ruth Jefferson’s eight-year-old immediately forfeited the ground he gained on the approach to the obstacle.

The closing sectional of 78.2secs was the slowest of the winners, although was enough for Ahoy Senor as Sounds Russian faded late-on in covering the same ground in 79.4secs. Noble Yeats finished his race off well having been furthest back of the main protagonists descending the hill, his finishing split was the quickest of the field at 77.8secs.

Emmet Mullins has the option of reapplying the cheekpieces, which the eight-year-old last wore successfully in the Grand National, making his chances more appealing than this result.

Protektorat was closing again after being short of the pace required to challenge heading to the second last fence, although Dan Skelton expressed the view the eight-year-old was not fit enough to do himself justice and the Gold Cup remains the target.

This performance was certainly far removed from the Gold Cup last year and Haydock in November.

Fastest figure

Il Ridoto claimed the handicap bragging rights at Ditcheat, clocking a faster time than stable companion Stage Star; in fact the six-year-old recorded the fastest time figure of the day when adjusted for distance.

The addition of cheekpieces and the better ground assisted his finishing effort as he closed off in 77.5secs, which was just 0.2secs slower than Editeur De Gite.

Stage Star was arguably more impressive, as he came clear of his field from the second last fence with relative ease.

As with Il Ridoto, the closing sectional compared favourably with the Clarence House Chase winner as the Owners Group-gelding stopped the clock at 77.8secs.