Kim Bailey was delighted to see Balleticon make a successful return from a 705-day absence in the starsports.bet 20K Owners Club Guarantee Maiden Hurdle at Southwell on Sunday.
Runner-up in two of his three bumper starts, the six-year-old had not been seen in competitive action since finishing fifth at Bangor almost two years ago.
Hot favourite Mocacreme Has loomed up looking a big danger to the front-running Balleticon before leaving the back straight, but the latter refused to yield and proved three and a half lengths too strong.
Bailey said: “I’m absolutely thrilled and a big thank you goes to my head lad George Savill. He rides this horse every day and he is far from an easy horse, I promise you.
“His bumper form is rock solid and he’s got stacks of ability, but he’s unbelievably fragile.
“Fingers crossed he’s in one piece tomorrow and I rather feel the same way about his owners, actually – this is their first winner and I think there’ll be big celebrations for them tonight!”
Ecossais justified 2-1 favouritism in the opening Download The Star Sports App Now! Handicap Chase.
Oliver Greenall’s charge successfully followed up his course victory of last month with a near three-length verdict in the hands of 5lb claimer Ross Turner.
“I’m very pleased. He’s healthy and well and improving, so it’s all good,” said Greenall.
“I was a bit worried about the softer ground, but he seemed to handle it.
“He just seems uncomplicated, so it’s great.”
Debden Bank also obliged for favourite-backers in the Call Star Sports On 08000 521 321 Handicap Chase.
A promising third on his seasonal reappearance at Stratford last month, the 100-30 chance was fitted with cheekpieces for his latest assignment and they seemed to have the desired effect, with James Best’s mount powering 11 lengths clear of his toiling rivals.
Fame And Concrete made a seriously impressive start to his career in the Read Davy Russell’s Exclusive Blog starsportsbet.co.uk Standard Open NH Flat Race.
Representing the father-son combination of Jonjo O’Neill and Jonjo O’Neill junior, the 7-2 shot took over the lead rounding the home and the further he went the better he looked – passing the post 13 lengths clear of Deeper Blue.
Phil Kirby’s Another Theatre was a surprise winner of the Starsports.bet £10k Showtime Guarantee Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.
Formerly trained by Henry Oliver, the daughter of Shantou had shown precious little in her first two starts over fences for Kirby in finishing seventh at Perth before being pulled up at the same track.
She was priced up accordingly for her return to the smaller obstacles at 28-1, but romped to an 18-length triumph under Tommy Dowson.
Kirby said: “Her form was good before we got her and the plan was to go chasing, but she’s just struggled.
“She’d schooled well at home, but hasn’t jumped particularly well at the races, so we just decided to go back to basics over hurdles and try to teach her to be a racehorse again, as she’d just lost her way.
“It’s a nice surprise to see her win today. Hopefully there’s more to come from her now.”
Oliver Sherwood and Brendan Powell combined to land the Starsports.bet Pipped At The Post Offer EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle with 10-11 favourite Ocean Drifter.