Java Point armed Kim Bailey with a good omen for Aintree by posting a stylish first success under rules in the Join Racing TV Now Maiden Hurdle at Warwick.
Bailey has a team of around half-a-dozen heading to Merseyside next week, with the possibility of exciting hurdler Ajero among them – although his target is yet to be confirmed.
Java Point endorsed the well-being of his trainer’s team as – in the colours also carried by Singlefarmpayment to victory on Sunday at Ascot – the 5-4 favourite kept on too strongly for market rival Known to score by a length and three-quarters under Jonathan Burke.
Bailey said: “We’ve been waiting for the better ground all winter with this horse – he’s an embryonic chaser.
“He was very fresh at Newbury when Nico de Boinville thought we were running over the wrong trip.
“But we knew that, and the form has worked out – and now we have options, one of which is to run him at the start of next season in a novice chase in May.”
Talking about his contenders for the Grand National meeting, Bailey added: “Espoir De Romay, Happygolucky, Two For Gold, Vinndication and possibly Ajero will go there.
“Ajero could go instead for the Scottish Champion Hurdle – off a mark of 140 his handicap days might not quite be over, let’s see.”
Burke, who is on the 40 winner mark for the season and has bettered his previous best by two, said: “He jumps well and is a straightforward, honest horse with the attributes to become a very good staying chaser.
“It’s good to have surpassed my previous best number, and I’d love to get to 50 by the end of the season.”
Champagne City gave owner Roger Brookhouse and trainer Tom George a third winner in less than a week when springing a 20-1 surprise under Ciaran Gethings in the Happy 21st Birthday Tia Harrison Handicap Hurdle.
The previously out-of-form winner took advantage of the fall of Givepeaceachance two out to come home four lengths clear of Clemento.
Gethings said: “He’s a bit of a monkey, but one with a lot of natural ability. He benefited from being dropped back on nicer ground.”
The Every Race Live On Racing TV Novices’ Handicap Hurdle went to Pour Une Raison, who reacted positively to the fitting of a visor for trainer Nick Mitchell and jockey Tom Bellamy.
“There’s been a transformation with the visor,” said Bellamy.
“He travelled and didn’t hit a flat spot. He didn’t miss a beat in the jumping department, and was super.”
Caid Du Berlais completed what was effectively a lap of honour in the Air Wedding Open Hunters’ Chase.
The 1-8 chance led throughout under Will Biddick to come home 44 lengths clear of Bishops Road.
Black Poppy, trained by Kerry Lee, provided a 25-1 upset in division one of the racingtv.com Maiden Open National Hunt Flat Race, resisting Party Business by a length-and-a-half – with the odds-on Blairgowrie only third.
Winning jockey Brendan Powell said: “I tracked the favourite and was always travelling well. I think he wouldn’t want either very soft or quick ground, and has a bit of filling out to do.”
There was another minor upset in the second division too when Sidewaysinmilan (11-1) ran on too strongly for 2-1 favourite Mexican Boy – for the Rosemary Gasson and Ben Poste trainer-jockey combination.