The Big Breakaway put in an almost perfect round of jumping to make a winning debut over fences in the mallardjewellers.com Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.
Last seen when finishing fourth in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival in March, the Colin Tizzard-trained five-year-old returned to winning ways with an exemplary performance.
Racing in the front pair throughout the extended three-mile prize, the 4-9 favourite always looked in control before taking lengths out of his rivals at the third last.
With The Butcher Said making a costly error when mounting a challenge at the penultimate fence, it left The Big Breakaway only needing to be pushed out from the back of the last to defeat fellow chasing debutant Doc Penfro by 10 lengths.
Joe Tizzard, son and assistant trainer, said: “I’m chuffed to bits with him. He travelled and jumped really well. He was foot perfect, but he has been since day one and, if anything, he jumped too well today. You can’t fault him though, as he did everything we asked him.
“He found it a little bit too easy over that trip. He had a little bit of a think going away from the stands and Robbie (Power, jockey) said he wouldn’t mind dropping him back to two and a half (miles) to sharpen everything up. That’s food for thought.
“It was a lovely performance to come here and jump like that first time out. He only had three runs last year and won a point-to-point, so it was greenness more than anything (needing to pushed momentarily).”
Assessing future targets, Tizzard earmarked an outing in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton as a possible target for The Big Breakaway, who was cut from 20-1 into 12-1 for the three-mile novices’ chase at the Festival by both Coral and Paddy Power.
He added: “That would seem the obvious target in my mind (Kauto Star). We will have a look at the calendar and think about it. It’s five or six weeks away and it seems to tie in perfectly. He probably wants a couple of runs between now and the Festival to make sure it doesn’t happen too easily.”
Alex Hales celebrated the biggest winner of his career after For Pleasure ground his rivals into submission in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle.
Having almost run out in a Listed race at Kempton on his previous start, the five-year-old was not for stopping out in front in the Grade Two contest.
Although favourite Third Time Lucki appeared to come with a well-timed challenge approaching the last, he could not get past the 14-1 shot, with three and three-quarter lengths separating the pair at the line.
Hales said: “I’ve been training 20 years and this is only my second winner here. We are a small operation and it means an awful lot for everybody.
“We went to Kempton to try to win the Listed novice and he behaved abysmally. To come here with that behind us, you are slightly crossed fingers is that going to happen again, but obviously left handed is the way he goes.
“There is no other way to ride him but let him go out in front. I was impressed he kept up that gallop and still came up the hill. He is not straightforward and Harry (Bannister) has done a brilliant job with him.”
Ramses De Teillee (11-2) demonstrated the best of his battling abilities when getting the better of Yala Enki by a short head in the Grade Three Planteur At Chapel Stud Handicap Chase.
Winning trainer David Pipe, speaking away from the track, said: “He has been a brilliant horse for us and his owners over the last few years, over hurdles and fences. Both the horse and jockey (Tom Scudamore) have been brave today.
“I said to John (White) and Anne (Underhill, owners) he will be hard to place this season and hard to win with, but hopefully we can nick a bit of prize money along the way.
“I was looking at veteran races for him the other day, but I realised he is only eight, however it feels like he has been around for years.
“He may go to the Becher or the Welsh National, it will be those types of races we look at. He is likely to go up in the weights, but I don’t mind as he has won one.”
Former Gold Cup-winning jockey Sam Thomas saddled his first Cheltenham winner as a trainer as Good Risk At All prevailed by a length and a half in the Listed High Sheriff Of Gloucestershire Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
Thomas said of the 13-2 shot: “It’s testament to all the hard work the team is doing at home. It’s things we can only dream of, coming here and winning a Listed bumper like that.
“I nearly didn’t run him as I felt he has got such a turn of foot, but I’m delighted I left him in. Sam (Twiston-Davies) said he will be a lot better on better ground, but we got away with it today.”