Minella Drama returned to the winning runway with an authoritative display in the Ballymore Sidney Banks Novices’ Hurdle at Market Rasen.
Transferred from its traditional home in Huntingdon following the abandonment of the track match earlier in the month, the Listed contest has an illustrious honor roll, with last year’s winner Shishkin winning the Supreme at Cheltenham in of his next departure.
The Donald McCain-trained Minella Drama was the 13-8 favorite in a field of five under champion jockey Brian Hughes, having narrowly fallen short in his attempt for a third straight win over the second-year Main Novice Hurdle from Rossington to Haydock four weeks ago.
Equipped with a balaclava for the first time, the six-year-old traveled extensively in the heels of the Optimize Prime for much of the two-and-a-half-mile contest, before taking over between the final two flights.
A messy jump to the last hurdle gave the closing Stoner’s Choice a snort of success, but Minella Drama had a lot up her sleeve as she passed the post three lengths to the right one.
Hughes said: “He’s always been a beautiful horse, his form has been solid you should say. Every race he has done has stacked up nicely. The horses that he beat or that beat him are all came out and won and got good grades now.
“He’s a beautiful horse, obviously improving with each race. He will make a great hunter over time.
“It was only suitable for us to run it two miles because the right runs were there. As you can see there is still this trip and I dare say it could do three miles in time. at the same time, it is a nice springboard.
“The horse that beat him on day one (Llandinabo Lad) won a Listed race and then the horse that was 12 lengths behind him in Bangor (Ballybegg) has since won two, and we gave him 7 pounds. Its form is solid. “
Minella Drama is not registered at Cheltenham and when Hughes was asked about the possibility of running at Aintree he replied: “You will have to speak to Mr McCain and the owner.
“I just mount them, I don’t place them.”