Grey Dawning regained the winning thread with a comfortable triumph in the Trustatrader Hampton Novices’ Chase at Warwick.
Dan Skelton’s charge had looked set for a Cheltenham victory last time out, only to make a mess of the penultimate fence, which saw him have to give best to Ginny’s Destiny.
Sent off the 5-4 favourite to make amends, Harry Skelton was happy to settle in behind the front-running Apple Away for much of the three-mile contest, with Broadway Boy the only other horse really in contention on the turn for home.
However, he began to struggle as Grey Dawning made smooth progress on the outside to grab the lead from Apple Away at the second last, despite running slightly down that fence.
He was also a bit slow to jump at the last, but Skelton’s mount kept galloping to the line to win by 14 lengths – a result which saw Betfair cut him to 10-1 from 16s for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.
“You wouldn’t know how good this horse is and I couldn’t believe he won two bumpers, but he just comes alive at the track,” said winning rider Harry Skelton.
“Who knows where he might end up, but he’s very exciting and it was nice to see him win like that today.
“Apple Away and Broadway Boy went off on the front-end and I was able to just follow away and when we swung into the straight and got racing, he came alive.
“He had the race won and just pricked his ears. He went a bit left and he always does that. It’s gone really well and it’s nice to see him do that.
“I really think he could get any trip and the way he races, he just sits behind the bridle a bit, he relaxes and is never keen. He’s so unassuming but when you get him to the track he comes alive, so I think he will get any trip.”
With Grey Dawning’s trainer on holiday in Barbados, it was left to assistant Tom Messenger to assess the performance of the talented seven-year-old having scored on this card for the second year in a row.
He suggested connections could now take a look at Sandown’s Grade One Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase before a shot at the Cheltenham Festival comes under consideration.
“He’s so unassuming and you don’t think he is going anywhere, then Harry wakes him up and he comes alive and he put it to bed really quickly in what I think was a really competitive race,” said Messenger.
“We will really enjoy today and he obviously won on the card last year in the Leamington Spa. We always thought he would be a good chaser and barring a mistake at Cheltenham last time, he has been foot perfect so far, so we’re delighted.
“We may go to the Scilly Isles at Sandown if that is the right thing to do and he comes out of this all right, then he will have a couple of entries at Cheltenham and we will see. It’s really exciting.
“He’s had a few runs this year and Dan has always been keen to get him experience. If he’s the horse we think he might be next season, then he has to get experience and when he goes up against the big boys this year and next year, we want that to be with some experience under his belt.
“Dan has rang me and was very excited. I hadn’t heard from him all day, but I did then.”
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