Whitehotchillifili took her career to new heights after opening her account for the season with a tenacious success in the Unibet “You’re On” Mares Hurdle at Sandown.
The Harry Fry-trained seven-year-old claimed a first Listed victory in the two-mile-four-furlong event after going one better than on her previous start over course and distance.
Having travelled powerfully into contention, it looked as though Whitehotchillifili had handed the initiative to long-time leader, Stormy Ireland, after making a bad mistake at the second last.
Gathered in by Sean Bowen, the 13-8 shot found an extra gear up the run-in to forge past Stormy Ireland before going on to score by three lengths.
Fry said: “On ratings she had a lot to find (with Stormy Ireland), but we knew our mare goes on the ground as she ran a cracker here under top weight a month ago.
“It was always the plan to go to that race then on to today. I was cursing at the second last as I thought the plan had come unstuck. She battled on really well and they went a good tempo, which really suited her.
“She is much more settled these days. Last year she didn’t stay, but certainly that intermediate trip suits her in these conditions.”
Fry has earmarked another Listed event at Warwick next month for Whitehotchillifili ahead of a potential outing in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, for which she was introduced at 33-1 by Paddy Power.
He added: “There is another mares’ Listed race at Warwick over two-five in February and, all being well, that is where she will go hopefully. Conditions won’t be too dissimilar to today.
“She ran a good race in the mares’ novice at Cheltenham finishing sixth. Ground conditions would need to be in her favour to go back to the Festival.”