David Pipe was delighted to see Umbrigado make it third time lucky for the season with a battling victory at Fontwell.
Having made a promising start to his season when runner-up in a competitive handicap hurdle at Haydock, the grey was well fancied to make a successful debut over fences at Uttoxeter last month, but ultimately proved no match for marginal favourite Northofthewall.
Ridden by Tom Scudamore, the seven-year-old was the 1-2 favourite to go one better in the Subscribe To attheraces On Youtube Novices’ Chase – and as the betting predicted, it turned into a straight shootout between Umbrigado and Up The Straight.
Odds-on backers were made to sweat, with Up The Straight refusing to go down without a fight, but Pipe’s charge dug deep in the testing conditions to prevail by three and a half lengths.
Pipe said: “I thought the betting was probably wrong beforehand as I didn’t think there was much between them (Umbrigado and Up The Straight) – there was only 3lb between them on ratings.
“Our horse has jumped and found for pressure and I thought it was a good performance.
“We’ll probably try to find another low-key race for him. He doesn’t mind this ground we’ve got at the moment, which is a big plus.”
Trainer Anthony Honeyball and conditional jockey Ben Godfrey combined for a treble on the card, with Gustavian striking first in the ‘Off The Fence’ On youtube.com/attheraces Handicap Hurdle.
It was hard work for the 6-4 favourite under a big weight, but he eventually reeled in Hasankey on the run-in and passed the post two lengths to the good.
“I was really pleased with him and if you’d seen his other races, today was probably easy viewing – I think he’s learning that he’s not as fast as he thinks he is! said Honeyball.
“Back over an extended two miles in heavy ground really suited him, the tempo was better for him as he can cruise, but he’s a bit one-paced. It’s all about picking the right race, right track and right ground for him.”
Honeyball and Godfrey were on the mark again an hour later, with 9-4 shot Lily The Pink proving strongest in the Visit attheraces.com Handicap Hurdle, before the hat-trick was completed by Swincombe Fleat (7-2) in the Sky Sports Racing HD Virgin 535 Maiden NH Flat Race.
On the latter, Honeyball said: “She’s really well related, but just went through the motions a bit on her debut at Ffos Las.
“Today she was a bit more lit up and had her racing brain on. Ben was able to sit handy and she was getting a fair bit of weight, too.
“Her dam (Swincombe Flame) won a Listed bumper at Sandown and I think we’ll probably end up there as the right horse (favourite) was second today.”
It was a first treble for Godfrey, who is now down to 5lb from 7lb.
“He’s been grafting away and has some great fun riding for the owners of Lily The Pink (Wessex Racing Club) and rides all their horses,” said Honeyball.
“We’ve gradually given him more opportunities. He’s a lot like Rex Dingle, he’s light, great to deal with and it’s no hardship giving them rides.
“I think he’s down to 5lb now but we’ve plenty of winners to use it up.”