Aucunrisque made virtually all to graduate to Grade Two glory in the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton.
All eyes were on Shallwehaveonemore after his wide-margin Sandown win and the Gary Moore-trained runner was sent off the 6-4 favourite under the handler’s son, Josh.
He was happy to settle in fourth as Tom Cannon set the gallop on Aucunrisque (3-1) and Shallwehaveonemore looked to be in the perfect position turning for home.
However, a couple of novicey jumping errors at the final two flights cost the market leader valuable momentum, handing the initiative to Aucunrisque, who proved incredibly game in responding to Cannon’s urgings.
He galloped on strongly after the last to hold the challenge of Shallwehaveonemore by a length, with 40-1 shot Galore Desassences finishing a further length and three-quarters adrift.
Aucunrisque was completing a hat-trick of victories for trainer Chris Gordon and Unibet chopped his price to 10-1 from 20s for the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
“It is so lovely. Brilliant. I am very happy. He has done it the hard way – he has gone up there in front and is a very hardy horse. He has just kept on picking up,” said Gordon.
“Sure, we could have gone for a tougher handicap, but he is going to be in tough handicaps all his life probably. We just thought, as a novice, he is tough and that is part of it.
“He’s won a pretty good little handicap hurdle before and a lot of novices haven’t done that and I thought he was a real warrior there today and stuck his head out all the way to the line.
“We just thought we’d keep it simple. I’m a simple person, so we try to keep the horses’ tactics nice and simple, bowl along nice and handy and just make use of a decent gallop.
“I did have the Imperial Cup in mind instead of coming here, but while I love Sandown, when it rains, I would go there with no race to go to, I’m 90 per cent sure.
“So, he is in the County Hurdle, but I think maybe he will go to Aintree. We’ll see. I can’t see any reason why he won’t go for the Grade One, but I haven’t had a drink in February and my judgement is not great!
“I don’t think this boy is big enough to jump a fence, so hurdling will be his game.”
Gordon later doubled up with bottom weight Storm Dennis (7-2 favourite) in the Play Coral ‘Racing-Super-Series’ For Free Handicap Hurdle.
He said: “It was a really good afternoon – a proper red-letter day.
“It is owner Dan Dennis’ birthday on Monday, so we are off to London for a bit of a night. I’ve been off the booze in February, which is a little bit boring!
“I might have a little drink on Monday.
“It was a completely gutsy from Storm Dennis. It was really scrappy. All he was doing was staying on at the end and he will get a bit further. Tom has schooled him over fences and he is a horse to look forward to next season.”