Outlaw Peter demonstrated his potential with a poignant and promising victory on his first British start in the Richard Hitchings Memorial Open Maiden National Hunt Flat Race at Worcester.
The five-year-old, owned by the Stewart family and Dame Judi Dench, was second on debut at Navan for Shark Hanlon in January – when he was beaten only by subsequent Champion Bumper fourth Three Stripe Life.
Outlaw Peter has since joined Paul Nicholls, and started an even-money favourite under Harry Cobden.
He hit the front three furlongs from home and won by two and a half lengths from Montgomery.
Nicholls trained a string of stars over many years – including the brilliant Big Buck’s – for his good friend and leading owner Andy Stewart, who died last month at the age of 70.
After Outlaw Peter’s victory, the multiple champion trainer posted on Twitter: “A lovely performance from Outlaw Peter to win on yard debut at Worcester under a lovely ride from Harry. Absolutely delighted to train a winner for the Stewart family & Judi Dench. That one was for you Andy.”
Outlaw Peter may be winning plenty more races too, having impressed Cobden.
He told Sky Sports Racing: “He’s a lovely horse.
“At home he’s very much on the bridle – he travels well and you’re normally trying to slow him down. But I suppose I had to make the running and he was very green.
“He’s a proper jumping horse – he didn’t need all that speed but he’s just a proper galloper, and the best thing about him was that I couldn’t pull him up until down the back straight.”
Elsewhere on the card, Wigglesworth (7-1) laid down a late challenge to take the Lewis Rally Sport Another Kind Of Horsepower Handicap Chase for Sam Twiston-Davies and Richard Newland.
The six-year-old looked an unlikely winner and was ahead of just one horse over the penultimate fence – but under a tenacious ride from Twiston-Davies, he rallied strongly to beat 7-4 favourite Starsky by a nose.
“When you’re in those scenarios you’re always hoping you’ll get there,” said Twiston-Davies, for whom this was an overdue winner.
“The horse has got to keep going at the end of the day – and that’s what he’s done.
“I was nearly on the cold list! I have great faith in Dr Newland.
“You can rely on them jumping – and with everything Dr Newland does, and his team, they are very fit.
“You go out there believing in the horses, and touch wood they usually come good more than they don’t.”
Newland completed a double on the card when Jesuitique took the Ann Hitchings Memorial Handicap Hurdle, at 7-1 under Cillin Leonard.
The six-year-old stable debutant, who launched a telling late challenge, gave connections brief anxious moments when he collapsed in the winner’s enclosure – but thankfully was soon back on his feet.
Leonard said: “We haven’t had him out at the front of the string, so he would have been very lairy if I had hit the front too soon.
“But he’ll do the job and he got the job done. I’m delighted with that.”
Little River Bay got her season off to a winning start in the David Dennis Racing EBF Mares’ Novices’ Chase, for Ben Jones and Philip Hobbs.
The six-year-old won three novice hurdles last season and duly augmented her record on chasing debut, by a length at 16-5.
Colorado Doc took the Uko Serviced Offices At County House Novices’ Hurdle at odds of 15-8 for Connor and David Brace, and the closing Myson Radiators EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle went the way of 8-11 favourite I Like To Move It – to give Twiston-Davies a double, riding this time for his father Nigel.