Greaneteen is Haldon hero as Nicholls and Cobden dominate at Exeter

Greaneteen joined an illustrious list of Paul Nicholls-trained runners to land the Haldon Gold Cup after forming the feature leg of a four-timer for the Ditcheat handler and jockey Harry Cobden at Exeter.

Fourth in the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival in March, the six-year-old made the perfect return as he gave Nicholls a seventh victory in the race he has won with the likes of Azertyuiop, Flagship Uberalles and Politologue.

Racing mid-division for much of the extended two-mile-one-furlong prize, the well-supported 15-8 favourite moved effortlessly into contention before going off in pursuit of long-time leader Moonlighter down the home straight.

After making a small mistake at the second-last it looked like the advantage was with Moonlighter, only for the Chris Giles-owned winner to gained a second wind and get up almost on the line and score by a neck.

Nicholls said: “Jumping the second-last he made half a mistake and half blew up. Harry said he then filled his lungs and stayed on strongly. I’d say he would improve for the run a bit.

“The great thing was he settled for the first time – last year he was keen in his races. Harry was well impressed. He said he has loads of boot for two miles and jumps well but said he would be better eventually over two and a half.

“Apart from two out, when he needed one, his jumping was good, and he had to dig deep. He got a little bit unlucky in the Grand Annual and that taught him a lot, funnily enough. I think he will keep going forward.”

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Greaneteen will now be pitched in at Grade One level for the first time in Tingle Creek at Sandown on December 5, for which he was cut to 6-1 by Betfair and Ladbrokes.

Nicholls said: “He is going to go up a bit and when you go up to the 160s you are just as well running in graded races than in handicaps to be honest, and I suspect that (Tingle Creek) is where we will go.

“He will have to take another step forwards, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he did.”

Grade One company is also likely to beckon for Enrilo, who made his second start over fences a winning one under Cobden in the Kate Brook Novices’ Chase.

Nicholls said of the 4-6 winner: “He is a nice horse that is still learning. He didn’t have that many runs over hurdles. He was still a little bit green in front, but he has got a nice engine.

“I just said to his owners we will probably head off to the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (at Kempton) on Boxing Day.”

The 11-times champion trainer plans to explore big-race race options for Bravemansgame (8-11) following his 11-length victory in the Kennford Novices’ Hurdle.

Nicholls said: “He is a big, progressive horse that will keep going forward and is a chaser in the making. I’m thrilled with him.

“He is a horse you could run in a Challow Hurdle. I wouldn’t be afraid of doing that. He is well capable of running in graded races with novices.”

Flash Collonges (10-1) got the ball rolling for Nicholls and Cobden when springing something of a surprise on his debut in division one of the Kenn Novices’ Hurdle.

Nicholls said: “That was a pleasant surprise. I thought if he finished fifth or sixth today then he would improve tenfold for the run.

“When he gets his act together and polishes up he will be all right.”

Bobhopeornohope (17-2) showed a tenacious attitude to rally back after being headed late on to land the opening division of the extended two-mile-five prize by a length and three-quarters.

Trainer Kim Bailey said: “I said to the owners after he jumped the first this horse is pulling too hard and he can’t possibly survive at this pace.

“He has toughed it out really well. I thought he was going to run a good race and finish second.”

Jersey Bean (11-2) gave Oliver Sherwood his first winner at the Devon track in more than five years when following up his recent Newton Abbot success in the Harcombe Handicap Chase.

Winning rider Brendan Powell said: “Oliver said he had come on lots for his first run and he ground it out well last time.

“He jumped good today and kept on gamely. I think he just outstayed them.”