Onemorefortheroad had plenty of bookmakers raising their glasses after the Ladbrokes Committed to Safer Gambling Intermediate Hurdle, as the 8-1 outsider of four scooted to a two-and-a-half-length success at Newbury.
With odds-on top-weight Soaring Glory failing to fire in the four-runner Listed contest, the Neil King-trained six-year-old took advantage of a 16lb pull in the weights to follow up his recent all-the-way win at Huntingdon in similar fashion.
King said: “I am just really pleased. We have always thought the world of him.
“He won his bumper first time out last year and last season my horses were badly out of form and when I ran him over hurdles, I was so disappointed he was beaten the first twice as I knew the horse was better than that. I gave him a break and he came back and won his races.
“His homework was so good. He was the only horse who could go with Lil Rockerfeller when we had him and he has done nothing wrong this season. We started him off in a novice because he wasn’t the bravest. We got him in a novice at Stratford and Bryony (Frost) gave him a great ride there, and at Huntingdon we had to do the donkey-work again. We didn’t want to make the running.
“He will be a better horse in a faster-run race when we can come from behind with him.
“If the ground stays dry and that, to a degree, is important to him, I would like to run in the big handicap at Ascot just before Christmas – the Betfair two-miler – and I think more of a stamina test will help him again. You wouldn’t want traditional winter ground. But we’ve had three wet winters, and this is a dry one, so I hope for him that the ball keeps rolling.
“The way the owners party afterwards, he could not be a better-named horse!”
Elle Est Belle recouped losses for an odds-on defeat on her jumping debut to take the Listed honours in the Ladbrokes Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
Dan Skelton’s five-year-old was only third over this extended two miles that day behind Nina The Terrier and Ahorsewithnoname and turned the tables on the pair.
Nina The Terrier fell at the final flight when holding every chance and Ahorsewithnoname was still just in front after taking it up after the third last, but Elle Est Belle (2-1) looked to be going best and went on to score by eight and a half lengths in the hands of Harry Skelton.
Skelton said: “She needed the run the first day and she really shocked me, because last year she was a really buzzy horse. Last year, you were almost like ‘slow down, there’s no rush’, and then actually she has come back in and she has appreciated that we have dropped her in in her races and she was a bit too relaxed in her early training.
“She needed the run and there is no shame in that. She has improved and she was going away at the line. I was quite optimistic she would turn it around and that we would improve an awful lot.
“She will get two and a half miles, but there is no need to press, press, press. There is no immediate plan. I think we will train her towards the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, but that will be a bit ground dependent, but I wouldn’t want her to be going there on quicker ground.”
Sir Peter O’Sullevan was the doyen of commentators and it was fitting to see his silks again carried to victory in the race named in his honour – the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Steeple Chase – by Kapcorse (13-2).
The black silks with yellow crossbelts, carried famously by the likes of Attivo, were bequeathed to great friend JP McManus upon O’Sullevan’s death in 2015 and three sported the colours on this occasion, with Kapcorse, the mount of Harry Cobden, prevailing by five and a half lengths.
The strapping son of Kapgarde has had just three starts since taking this race in 2018, having suffered minor niggling problems.
With Nicholls absent due to illness, assistant trainer Harry Derham, said: “He has not been a very easy horse to train, hence the massive absence in his career.
“On his day, he is a very talented horse. When he is right, he is very good, but he is just not easy to train. He has had little problems, but to be fair, Mr McManus has been very patient with him and you can see today why you would bother to be patient.
“Where we will go next, I don’t know. This was the aim, because it was Sir Peter O’Sullevan’s race. AP McCoy rode him in work last Tuesday and got off him and said ‘he’ll win next week’, so he obviously knows a good horse when he sees one!
“To be fair, after that, we did have confidence because every day with him, you hope things go right, because, as you can see, he is enormous and it has just taken him a while to get him right, but he is a very talented horse. Today was the plan, so we will make another one now.”
Il Ridoto (4-1 co-favourite) gave the Nicholls yard and Cobden a double on the car in the concluding Watch Racing Free Online at Ladbrokes Handicap Chase.
Earlofthecotswolds had capitalised on a lenient mark at Wetherby a fortnight ago and a 7lb rise failed to halt his progress, as the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained seven-year-old followed up in the Get Your Ladbrokes £1 Free Bet Today Handicap Hurdle in the hands of his son, Sam Twiston-Davies.
The winning trainer said: “It is smashing. We didn’t think we’d win because the ground had gone a bit soft, but he did it nicely.
“The ground was a little bit of a worry. He is a handicapper and that is what we are looking at with him. He is no better than that and he can always go over fences again one day.
“There is nothing else for him at present. Another handicap after Christmas is probably what we are looking at.”