Alan King collected a first November Handicap title when On To Victory obliged at 10-1 under James Doyle in the Doncaster Flat season finale.
The six-year-old claimed a first victory since 2017 after battling past 28-1 shot Rhythmic Intent and 80-1 chance Nuits St Georges in the Betfair-sponsored feature.
The Rock Of Gibraltar gelding has successfully switched codes in the latter stages of the Flat season to tally three places before this victory, after being campaigned over hurdles throughout the winter.
His triumph completed a tremendous few minutes for King, who just moments earlier struck in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton with Sceau Royal.
“Speaking to Alan we thought the race should set up quite nicely for him, in a sense with that many runners there’s usually a good pace,” said Doyle.
“They went a hell of a pace today, I planned to be midway or somewhere to the fore of that mid-group, but they didn’t break that quick. It’s a cavalry charge down to that elbow and I thought we’d be better taking our time a bit.
“It worked out nicely. I thought I was tracking up behind the right type of horses, I had Kingbrook in front of me and the one he was following was Euchen Glen.
“I was pretty happy turning into the straight and then they stopped, so my only concern was that I was exposing him to daylight a bit sooner than would be ideal for him, but I think on this ground you need to keep the forward momentum going and hopefully it will carry them through to the ground.
“He’s won, ears pricked at the line, with plenty more to give.”
Henry Ponsonby, syndicate manager of owners HP Racing, was delighted to see his faith in On To Victory vindicated.
“It was a great team effort for a horse we have always liked a lot,” he said.
“James Doyle gave him a great ride, and it wasn’t unexpected because this horse has got enormous talent and he’s going to be very exciting over hurdles. He’s a different horse to when he was hurdling before. He just had the four runs and was rated 125. That’s where he’s going to go now.
“A great team of owners have been very patient, because he’d had nearly two years off the Flat. He was running in the November Handicap 9lb lower than his official rating two years ago – so he was, to a certain extent, thrown in and he’s done nothing wrong at all.
“It’s great credit also to Gary Witheford, the stalls’ ‘horse whisperer’ – his team was up there with him because he has got a slight problem with the stalls, and without them I don’t think he’d have lined up for today’s race.
“It’s been a great day for Alan (King). He had a wonderful winner (Sceau Royal) at Wincanton, Canelo at Aintree and a nice winner yesterday. The horses are firing – it’s fantastic.”