Copperless could be heading for more competitive prizes after running away with the Pertemps Network Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock.
The Galway and Greatwood Hurdles are already being suggested for the rapidly-improving six-year-old after he comprehensively disposed of 13 rivals to take this valuable prize.
Aidan Coleman took the shortest route on Olly Murphy’s charge before asking him for his effort. The 9-2 favourite was in command at the final flight and drew away to win by eight and a half lengths from Cormier.
Camprond was two lengths away third with Rowland Ward fourth.
Victory was handsome compensation for Copperless’ fall at Aintree last month when he looked certain to oblige.
“It was gutting what happened at Aintree. Obviously no fault of the young lad, (rider) Lewis Stones. He came to grief at the second last when looking to have the race at his mercy, but we’ve made amends today and he was quite impressive,” said Murphy.
“I was cursing the handicapper after he out him up 3lb for that, but how right he was.
“This horse is on an upward curve. I’m not sure where we go now, but today was a good pot and I’m chuffed.”
Copperless is co-owned by Murphy’s father Aiden and Alan Peterson.
“Dad is one of the unluckiest owners that’s ever owned racehorses, so I’m chuffed for him and chuffed for the Peterson family, who have supported me since I started training. It’s magic,” Murphy went on.
As for future plans, the handler added: “Whether he’d sneak into the Galway Hurdle at the bottom of the weights, I’m not sure. It’s certainly an option but the Greatwood is the obvious option at the moment. I’d say we’d stay hurdling for next season.
“I was very worried about the ground. If it had been a 20 grand race I’m not sure he’d have been here, but he handled the ground fine. It’s not as bad as you think.
“He was very impressive – he’s going to get clobbered for it, but he’s going to contest nice races from now on in.”
Dell’ Arca (11-1) came out of the clouds to snatch victory in the Pertemps Network Long Distance Handicap Hurdle.
The David Pipe-trained 12-year-old needed the long run-in from the final flight to reel in Trincomalee and score by a length in the hands of Fergus Gillard.
“I knew he would stay the trip and it was a such a long way from the last to the line, I needed every yard of it and he’s not stopped galloping,” said the 5lb claimer.
“When I won on Main Fact here it was a lot deeper. This place has done me good. Dell’ Arca is a lovely horse. I’m delighted for Caroline Tisdall (owner) and everyone at home. He’s such a yard favourite.”
Francky Du Berlais (4-1) capitalised on a mistake at the last by Fortified Bay to win the Pertemps Network Intermediate Handicap Chase.
Long-time leader Fortified Bay could not recover and Francky Du Berlais, trained by Peter Bowen and ridden by his son, James, moved ahead to gain a two-length verdict.
Francky Du Berlais had almost thrown away his chance with an error three out.
The winning rider said: “It didn’t do him any harm missing three out, otherwise I might have got there too soon. He’s won well.
“It all suited him. Two and a half (miles) is his trip and the ground was all right for him. He’s gone on worse than that.”
Exelerator Express (9-4) took advantage of Eamon An Cnoic’s blunder at the third last to comfortably win the Pertemps Network Handicap Chase.
Neil Mulholland’s seven-year-old went on and drew away to win by 10 lengths.
“He jumped well and was trying a bit further today which suited well,” said winning rider Sam Twiston-Davies.
“The race fell to bits a little bit and then when the Pipe horse made a mistake at the ditch, it put paid to his chances. Even so you’ve got to get it won and he’s done it nicely.”