Donald McCain was thrilled to see Minella Trump extend his winning sequence to seven with a dominant front-running display at Catterick.
The seven-year-old appeared to have lost his way during his debut season over fences last season, but a switch back to hurdles saw him round off his campaign with victory at Perth.
Minella Trump has not looked back since, with an autumn hat-trick at the same Scottish venue followed by victories at Sedgefield and Sandown ahead of his latest assignment in North Yorkshire.
The Shantou gelding was taken on by just two rivals in the Lyn And Holly’s Big Birthday Celebrations Novices’ Chase – and it soon became a match after a couple of jolting early errors from Ask Paddington led to him being pulled up.
Baron De Middleton briefly threatened to make a race of it early in the home straight, but 1-2 favourite Minella Trump quickly asserted and came home with 21 lengths in hand under Brian Hughes.
McCain said: “I’m chuffed. He’s doing it at decent enough level and it takes a bit of doing.
“These things don’t happen very often. The last horse to win seven in a row for us was Peddlers Cross and I’ll never train another one of those. It was a different kettle of fish with him as that was expected – we never expected him to get beaten.
“This is a different story and a different type of horse, but for him to go through the grades and learn his job along the way is credit to him – he’s a star and I wouldn’t mind a few more like him, that’s for sure.”
With another rise in the handicap likely, Minella Trump will have to dip his toe into deeper waters at some stage, but McCain is in no rush to decide on where the bid for an eight-timer will take place.
He added: “Truthfully, I don’t know where we’ll go next. We’ll be governed by ground a little bit, so we’ll see what the weather does and we’ve got to see how he is.
“At some point he’s going to need a break, but I don’t think he’s taking too much of himself at the moment, so we’ll just have to see.
“We’re enjoying it and we’ll take him home and see where it takes us.”
Minella Trump was the first of three winners on the afternoon for the McCain-Hughes combination.
Recent Musselburgh scorer Minella Plus (2-7 favourite) doubled his tally over obstacles in the racingtv.com/freemonth Novices’ Hurdle, while the River Walk (9-2) carried the colours of the late Trevor Hemmings to a debut victory in the Racing Again 14th December Open NH Flat Race.
“Minella Plus is not over-big and won’t be wanting winter ground. He’s a little bit wild, but he’s learning his job and he’s done it well,” said McCain.
“It’s a crying shame Mr Hemmings has gone and we’re all training him winners at the moment.
“River Walk is a nice horse. I didn’t know if he’d win a bumper, to be honest, but he showed a good attitude and he’s got a proper staying pedigree.”