Alminar came back to form in style at Wincanton with victory in the MansionBet 5 Days Til Cheltmas Handicap Chase.
The 9-1 outsider of the party was in control over the final couple of fences for trainer Nigel Hawke and jockey Kieren Buckley, powering 10 lengths and five clear of Premiumaccess and Putdecashonthedash.
Buckley said: “He’s had excuses for some of his defeats, as after winning in the heavy at Chepstow we stepped him up in class and he couldn’t handle it.
“He gave me no feel last time, but was a different horse today. The ground was good to soft and he bounced off it, jumping brilliantly. He could be one for the big handicap chases in the summer.”
Richard Phillips was on hand to welcome Minella Whisper who resisted the strong challenge of odds-on Sandford Castle to take the Follow @mansionbet This Cheltmas Novices’ Handicap Chase.
The 15-2 winner was making his debut over fences, and Phillips said: “The owners have been so patient with him and I’m delighted for them. He won over hurdles, but then had a tendon issue and has been nursed back. I was pleased with his run in a jumper’s bumper that teed him up for today.
“He enjoyed that chase debut and it was a lovely introductory ride by Daniel Hiskett.”
The Lydia Richards-trained Certainly Red landed the Mansionbet Faller Insurance Handicap Hurdle under Marc Goldstein. The extended three-miler was the longest hurdle race ever run at Wincanton.
And there was plenty to like about the winning effort of Go Dante in the Happy 41st Birthday Hazel Rofe Maiden Open National Hunt Flat Race.
Sent off the even-money favourite, the Olly Murphy-trained five-year-old had no trouble justifying his short price, scoring by seven and a half lengths from Kahina Rules.
Murphy said: “He has never been on grass in his life, so I was a bit nervous he might be a bit green, but he has done everything nicely.
“I’m not sure if we will see him again this season – Aintree might be a tiny possibility, but he won’t be running under a penalty anywhere. He is a big, raw horse who jumps great. He will be a lovely novice hurdler for next season.”