Bear Ghylls gave his supporters a couple of minor scares before maintaining his unbeaten record in the MansionBet’s Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap Hurdle at Exeter.
Nicky Martin’s exciting six-year-old made mistakes at two of the last three obstacles, but it had no bearing on the result as he ran out a decisive winner.
Matt Griffiths had Bear Ghylls just off the pace set by course specialist Trans Express but he was going so well he had a share of the lead four out.
Bear Ghylls (10-11 favourite) was soon in front and controlling the race, despite being untidy at the last third last and the final flight.
He ran on strongly to the line to score by five lengths from Stormy Flight. Elysian Flame was a head away in third place.
“There’s always pressure when they’re unbeaten. I’m absolutely delighted,” said his Somerset trainer Martin.
“He’s very green still. The problem is he jumps foot perfect at home but on the racecourse he doesn’t seem to respect the hurdles very well.
“He’s only had four runs and first time in a handicap, so it’s very good.
“We’ll probably try to find a Graded race rather than a handicap, which was the original idea. Then obviously Cheltenham was abandoned on the first (of January) which is where he was meant to go.
“We’ll just make sure he comes out of the race all right and have a look at something in a month’s time.”
Crossley Tender (11-2) won for the second time at Exeter and the fourth in all this season with a decent staying display in the MansionBet Bet 10 Get 20 Handicap Chase.
Paul Henderson’s eight-year-old made his stamina tell by coming through to lead at the final fence and galloping on strongly to beat Samuel Jackson by six and a half lengths.
“I think the ground was a little bit quicker than the last time he ran, and I think that suits him better,” said the Hampshire trainer.
“The horse is very well and is in a rich vein of form.
“He had a bad back last year, but we didn’t know until he ran really badly one day and didn’t jump at all well.
“Now we know we have a girl (Georgia) who looks at his back, and so we keep on top of it. We have a back lady who comes in, and she showed her how to treat it. That’s made all the difference.
“He’s a good jumper but he just wasn’t quite there – but he’s much better now.
“I’ve not had a look at the race programme. We’ll see how he goes. He’s maintained his form and he hardly blew when he came back in.”
There was a power cut shortly after that race, and the clerk of the scales reported the riders were unable to weigh in – but the stewards were satisfied the correct weight had been carried throughout and confirmed the placing of all finishers. The two later contests went ahead as planned.
David Pipe and Tom Scudamore, fresh from their Grade One success with Adagio in the Finale Juvenile at Chepstow on Saturday, had earlier continued the good work with Martinhal (100-30) in the MansionBet Faller Insurance Maiden Hurdle.
The six-year-old, having his first run since undergoing wind surgery, got off the mark over jumps with a game win by half a length from Karl Philippe.