The Galloping Bear produced a game staying performance to defy top-weight in the racehorselotto.com Surrey National Handicap Chase at Lingfield.
The nine-year-old, trained by Ben Clarke, kept on gamely on the run to the line at the end of the three-mile-five-furlong trip to lift the spoils on his second start following a wind operation.
His comeback run, after a 258-day absence, resulted in a fall at the third-last flight in a novice hurdle at Chepstow last month – but the successful hunter chaser and point-to-pointer showed he had regained his form.
Ridden by Ben Jones, The Galloping Bear (12-1) was always in the front rank and found extra after the last to see off the late challenges of Defuture Is Bright (20-1) and Echo Watt (33-1), by two and a half lengths and two and three-quarters. Both placed horses were receiving lumps of weight from the winner.
Clarke, who was assistant to Anthony Honeyball before starting out on his own with a string of 15 horses, said: “On pedigree and everything he had shown us at home and in point-to-points – the first time he could be well above average was when he won an intermediate point at Buckfastleigh and went through the line quicker than anything through the day and I thought, ‘Crikey! We might have something all right’.
“I’m thrilled to bits. His pedigree suggests he’d stay and he certainly has.
“His last run at Chepstow was supposed to be his last little prep for a Welsh National and we ended upside down. That was not ideal. We still would have run him but he scoped dirty two or three days before. He is the best horse we have and we certainly wouldn’t risk a horse like that on a marginal scope.
“We had him in the Peter Marsh, but with Royale Pagaille running, he would have been running out of the handicap.
“Maybe the Grand National Trial at Haydock next month is where we go next. He will probably go up a few pounds and will probably be rated around 140. The key to him is soft ground – he has to have that. The area Nationals are what he is all about.”