Bavington Bob looks set to be another success story for Ann and Ian Hamilton after eventually running out a cosy winner of the QuinnBet Handicap Chase at Newcastle.
The husband and wife team currently only have four horses in training – with two more sidelined – yet incredibly the small string is operating at a strike-rate this season of around 40 per cent.
Tommy’s Oscar has a rating of 156, Nuts Well runs in handicaps off 155 and Pay The Piper is rated 143. Now Bavington Bob – who the handicapper only put up 1lb for his recent win – could be set to join them on a lofty rating.
In truth, after hitting the second fence Brian Hughes never looked happy until the closing stages, when the strong stayer set sail for home.
Crixus’s Escape and The Paddy Pie had set a stiff pace, but all the seven-year-old does is stay and having jumped to the front two out he went on to win by over four lengths.
“He jumped the first grand, but then landed on top of the second and from then on he was always a bit cold,” said Hughes.
“When he can stand off he’s good, but he’s a big lad and when he gets in close he can struggle. That’s only his third run over fences and you’d have to say he’s going the right way.”
Ian Hamilton said: “I don’t know if he’s an Eider horse yet, but I suppose he stays well. Brian said he was just playing with him all the way.
“He’s getting the hang of things, that’s for sure. I know he only went up 1lb for his last win, but it really wasn’t much of a race.”
Hughes was denied a quickfire double when Donald McCain’s Dreams Of Home was downed by Fugitif (2-1) in the QuinnBet And QuinnCasino Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase, trained by Richard Hobson and ridden by Kielan Woods.
Arguably the best-bred horse on show on the card was Ian Williams’ Walk In The Storm and she opened her account at the third time of asking in the Cazoo EBF Mares’ National Hunt Flat Race.
The five-year-old is a half-sister to King George winner Tornado Flyer and her dam, Mucho Macabi, is a half-sister to Hurricane Fly.
The field barely broke into a canter for the first three-quarters of a mile, and while the 15-8 joint-favourite cruised into contention he had to be brave to see off Tiger Spirit by a length and a half.
“We were going so slowly I just wanted to get a bit of cover and get her switched off,” said jockey Fergus Gergory.
“That meant I ended up a bit further back than I wanted to be, but going down the back straight I angled out a bit wider and then meant into the home straight I had a clear run.
“She picked up all the way to the line and she’s quite a nice prospect. It’s job done now, with a win under her belt.”
Sue Smith’s Burrow’s Diamond (7-2) has taken a while to get the hang of fences, but with only three to beat in the Cazoo Search Drive Smile Mares’ Handicap Chase she defied top-weight under Ryan Mania.
“She won over two miles over hurdles and she’s just been crying out for a bit further,” said Mania.
“We didn’t go very quick today, she was able to quicken up and she’s done it nicely. I did think if she stayed she’d win.”