Thornton eyes Magic victory Al form offers Williams joy Injury forces 'oak to retire
Robert Thornton is hopeful Twist Magic can continue his fine run of form in the Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
The eight-year-old is enjoying his best season for some time, having won the Tingle Creek and the Victor Chandler Chase, but doubts remain over his ability to handle the Prestbury Park track.
He has failed to complete two of his three visits to the track but Thornton, who has ridden Paul Nicholls' charge once before, is unfazed by statistics.
The jockey said: "I rode him in the Tingle Creek behind Master Minded a couple of years ago and we fell at the second last when going very well.
"That day he gave me a good feel. He's a top two-mile chaser and there's no doubt about that. I'm looking forward to it."
Al form offers Williams joy
Weird Al continues to please trainer Ian Williams ahead of his bid for glory in the RSA Chase in just over a fortnight.
The seven-year-old remains unbeaten over fences this season and was last seen winning the Towton Novices' Chase at Wetherby.
Noel Fehily rode him earlier in the season but, as he is set to miss the meeting through injury, Williams booked Paddy Brennan for his last start and it is almost certain Brennan will ride again.
"He came out of Wetherby in great form and we couldn't be happier with him," Williams said.
"I'm as certain as I can be that Paddy will be riding him but nothing is certain."
Along with Weird Al and Fredo, Williams has a couple of other horses with chances at the big meeting, saying: "Mister Apple's might run in the Kim Muir, Gifted Leader might go in the Martin Pipe race and Wayward Prince and Bob 'N' You might run in the Albert Bartlett."
Injury forces 'oak to retire
Donald McCain's talented mare Whiteoak has been retired after suffering a minor injury.
The seven-year-old landed the first David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle at the 2008 Cheltenham Festival and finished 12th in the Champion Hurdle last year.
McCain said: "It has been decided that she should go to stud to be covered in the spring.
"She has been a fantastic servant to the yard. Her niggles have finally caught up with her."
Whiteoak won five of her 18 career starts and was placed on a further eight occasions.