Dual Stayers’ Hurdle winner Flooring Porter made the perfect start to his new career when making nearly all the running in the William Hill Lengthen Your Odds Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.
Turning his hand to chasing relatively late in life as an eight-year-old, connections felt now was the time for the switch given he failed to win a race last season.
Ridden by new partner Keith Donoghue in place of Danny Mullins, he set out to make all but was soon hassled for the lead by Broadway Boy, one of two runners for Nigel Twiston-Davies.
Despite lacking the size and scope of his rivals, Flooring Porter (6-4 favourite) was foot perfect on the first circuit, although when the pace quickened on the second time around, there were a couple of blips.
He left his hind legs in one fence down the back straight and then took off too early at the open ditch, but he never looked like falling.
Donoghue seemed keen to hold on to his head for as long as possible as Broadway Boy and his stablemate Weveallbeencaught loomed up behind him, but good jumps at the last two enabled his class to come to the fore and he skipped clear to win by two and a half lengths.
“I know he was ahead of the others on his rating and that he’s still a high-profile horse, although not as much as he was,” said Cromwell.
“But he’s not very big, which made the way he jumped so pleasing.
“I thought he could do that, and it’s always great to see that the engine is still there.”
He went on: “It was a case of seeing how we get on today and then we will map a course. He will have to step up plenty, but obviously has the scope to with his hurdle rating.
“I don’t see why not (that he could match his hurdle form). He is not a very big horse, but he doesn’t jump like a small horse.
“He is a little bit limited in the fact he is much better going left-handed so that is always an option (to come back here again).”