Powys trainer Sheila Lewis is hopeful Cotton End can build on a winning start to her summer campaign after triumphing at Ludlow on Sunday.
The seven-year-old mare notched her fourth win since September when taking the Vobe Electrics Handicap Hurdle by a length and a half under Ben Jones.
The performance came after a 158-day break, with Lewis avoiding the winter conditions and remaining focused on campaigning the mare on good ground throughout the warmer months.
“She’s just one of those mares that just keeps progressing and keeps surprising us really,” she said.
“She’d had three wins, and the minute she won and got her head in front, her confidence has just grown.
“She has been brilliant.”
Lewis trains a handful of horses alongside owning and running a beauty salon in Welshpool, with the stable flag flown by the consistent handicap chaser Volcano and classy novice hurdler Straw Fan Jack.
Both greys are likely to be rested over the summer, but Cotton End is just getting going and her trainer is eyeing a graduation to steeplechasing at some point.
“What’s happened with her is that she hasn’t run since last November, this was her first run of the season in a way,” Lewis said after the 12-1 success.
“She’s a summer horse, really, she’s a good ground horse, so she’s had a break and it’s her first run now.
“I’m a small trainer and I usually find it hard to get them bang on first time, so she’s surprised us today really.
“She’ll have the whole summer campaign and she’ll probably go over fences and some stage but she keeps winning over hurdles, it depends what the handicapper does to her after today.
“Hopefully she’ll improve from that run and give us something to look forward to over the summer.”