Master Tommytucker and Sam Twiston-Davies proved a perfect match as they reunited for an impressive victory in the Back And Lay On Betfair Exchange Graduation Chase at Haydock.
Paul Nicholls’ talented but lightly-raced resurgent star has been let down by his jumping several times over fences.
But with Twiston-Davies back on board for the first time since they struck together when Master Tommytucker was making his racecourse debut in a novice hurdle at Exeter in 2018, there was barely a semblance of a mistake on the way to a fine front-running success for the 2-1 favourite.
The Nicholls camp may consider next month’s Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon for the nine-year-old, who won a match race over that course and distance just under two weeks ago.
For Twiston-Davies, though, this success by 15 lengths from another of his old favourites Good Boy Bobby is a case of job done – with thanks to helpful instructions from Master Tommytucker’s regular jockey Harry Cobden.
“He’s got a serious engine – he jumps from fence to fence and does it the hard way on the front,” he said.
“He does relax in front, but he puts other horses under pressure.
“We got into a good rhythm – and Harry Cobden had a really good chat with me (beforehand), and was incredibly helpful.
“He just said he likes to jump by himself, so just leave him to it – because pretty much, when you ask him, he tends to do his own thing.
“So he said, whatever you do, as hard as it can be, just sit and hold his hand all the way round.”
Reflecting on his first association with Master Tommytucker – who earned quotes of 25-1 and 50-1 for the Ryanair Chase and Gold Cup respectively with Betfair – Twiston-Davies added: “That was a long time ago, but it’s nice to get another go on him – and great that it’s gone to plan as well.
“He rides very smart anyway.”
Charlie Longsdon was earlier delighted with his “dude of a mare” after Snow Leopardess displayed great tenacity to win the Betfair Supports Safer Gambling Week Handicap Chase.
Snow Leopardess, a Listed bumper and Grade Two hurdles winner in her youth, had two years off with injury after an Auteuil success in 2017 and produced a foal by Sir Percy during her sabbatical.
But she showed she has lost none of her appetite for battle on the track, overcoming a serious mistake at the end of the back straight under Brian Hughes to gradually haul in another grey, the front-running Commodore, and hit the front just before the line to win by half-a-length as a well-backed 9-2 joint-favourite.
Longsdon had decided, after two placed runs in useful novice company this season on her only two previous chase starts, that the eight-year-old’s rating of 126 was favourable – and she ensured he was vindicated.
“She has been a really good mare in her time,” said the Oxfordshire trainer.
“She won a Listed bumper at Gowran, and she won a Grade Two at Newbury.
“She got a leg when she won at Auteuil, was off for two years and had a foal and has a yearling on the ground by Sir Percy.
“She’s very, very fragile – and we can’t train her hard at home.”
Nonetheless, Longsdon was always optimistic of a good performance here.
“We knew potentially off 126, it was a nice mark – she was 135 in the past, before she got injured,” he added.
“She loves her jumping, and she stays – and she’s a dude of a mare.
“I think she’ll only improve – and Brian said if she hadn’t made a mistake at the last in the back straight both times, she’d have probably got there easier.
“But I’m delighted with her – a winner on a big day like this is always important for middle-sized yards.”
Longsdon is prepared to aim even higher with her this season too if Snow Leopardess comes out of her victory well.
He said: “We’ll see how she is in the morning – we won’t make any plans (yet), but I know the owner would love to go for the mares’ chase at Cheltenham.
“That is two and a half miles, so we’ll have to make big decisions coming up – otherwise, she’ll have a look at the four-miler (National Hunt Chase).
“The most important thing is keeping her sound now, and we’ll wrap her up in cotton wool.
Llandinabo Lad was a clear-cut winner of the Listed Betfair Weighed In Podcast Newton Novices’ Hurdle for trainer Tom Symonds and jockey Richard Johnson.
The five-year-old remains unbeaten in his two hurdles starts, having finished second in two bumpers last winter and then had a wind operation in July.
He convincingly followed up last month’s Bangor victory, mastering the front-running 7-4 favourite Do Your Job at the last and staying on well to take the opening race in the already rain-softened ground by four and a quarter lengths at 13-2.
Symonds said: “I’m delighted with him, because he was chucked in a bit at the deep end.
“He doesn’t need it soft, but he appears more effective on it.
“The plan was to see where we were today – I’m thinking something like a Tolworth over that stiff two miles at Sandown will suit him, and that’s what we will look at.”
As the rain began to take its toll, the Betfair Racing Only Bettor Handicap Hurdle turned into an eventful and gruelling test – albeit over just two miles three furlongs – and it was Robbie Power who kept out of trouble as Colin Tizzard’s 13-2 shot War Lord stayed on to be an appropriate winner, by a length and a quarter from Umbrigado.