Camprond capitalised on his handicapping experience to claim a comfortable success in the Grade Two Unibet Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow.
The French-bred five-year-old was consistently placed in high-quality handicap contests over the summer, including a third-placed finish in the fiercely-competitive Grade Three Swinton Hurdle at Haydock in May.
He comfortably handled this move up in class, by a convincing five lengths at 5-1 for Aidan Coleman and Philip Hobbs – with the trainer enjoying a one-two in the race as favourite Luttrell Lad took the runner-up spot.
“He’s very experienced for this grade,” Coleman told Sky Sports Racing.
“He was placed in the Swinton and a good handicap at Aintree – big field races,.
“It really suited him, because they went a good even gallop there, and it didn’t really ride like a novice – it rode like more of a handicap.
“It played to his strengths – I was able to send him on good and early, and he jumped really well up the straight and put the race to bed.
“He’s a handicapper in all but name – so he used his experience, basically.
“He’s run in three or four handicaps, and he ran well in all of them. There’s nothing wrong with being a handicapper at that level – having been at Aintree and (the) Swinton, to come to a nine-runner novice here is a lot easier.”
Paul Nicholls’ Grade Two bumper winner Knappers Hill maintained his unbeaten record when scoring on his debut over hurdles in the Andy Stewart Racing’s Great Friend Novices’ Hurdle.
The five-year-old took three National Hunt Flat contests last season, culminating with the Weatherbys bumper at Aintree in April, and duly added this length success on his switch to a new discipline.
“He’ll come on a ton for it – he was very, very green,” jockey Harry Cobden said of the 2-13 favourite.
“Down to the first he barely saw what he was doing, he wasn’t really concentrating and galloped straight through it – but his jumping got better and better.
“I could have nicked 10 lengths at the top of the hill, but I decided to hold on to him and get him to learn a bit and to pop – he’ll be a lot more straightforward next time anyway.
“I was always confident I had enough horse there. I hadn’t even touched him today – he’ll come on a lot, he’s so smart.”
Nicholls added: “It’s a starting point for the season.
“He’s a work in progress – he doesn’t want to be put in the deep end too soon.
“I’ll probably run him at Wincanton on November 6 in another novices’ hurdle they have that day and then perhaps look at something better after that. He’ll just improve again and get better as the season goes on – he’ll relax a bit and jump better.”
The Tom Malone Bloodstock Novices’ Chase went the way of Kim Bailey’s Does He Know, who was steered to a five and a half-length success at 4-1 by David Bass.
The six-year-old made a winning start to last season when completing a hat-trick in the Hyde Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham – but then ran out in Newbury’s Grade One Challow Hurdle after becoming unruly in the paddock.
He was then fifth in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, before returning for this successful seasonal comeback.
“He’s a very nice horse – we came here thinking we had every chance,” said Bailey.
“We started really well last year. It all went pear-shaped in the Challow Hurdle when he was a nightmare in the paddock – he nearly killed me, and Ben Pauling saved the day, and he then ran through the wing.
“We ended up going to Cheltenham, where he ran a very good race … he had good form last season, and he’s a point-to-point winner from Yorkshire, which is great.”
Michael Scudamore’s Some Chaos claimed a three-length victory in the Professor Caroline Tisdall Supports Heroic Jumpers Veterans’ Handicap Chase.
The 10-year-old jumped well throughout to cross the line three lengths ahead of Vivas, at 9-2 under Ben Jones.
“For whatever reason he didn’t finish his races off last year,” said Scudamore.
“He never made a noise or anything like that. But we thought something was wrong – so as seems to be the fashion nowadays, we gave him a wind op.
“He’s back to a winning mark, or just below a winning mark. Ben’s given him a lovely ride – it was fantastic.”