Tritonic emerged as a leading light for the JCB Triumph Hurdle with a debut success over jumps that will have taught him a great deal and elevate dreams for his owners of landing the juvenile championship at Cheltenham in March.
Good enough on the Flat to finish second to Highland Chief at the Royal meeting in June, Tritonic started a warm order at 5-4 for the bet365 Juvenile Hurdle – but looked to have plenty to do as Casa Loupi set sail for home on the homeward turn.
Happily for his supporters, the favourite gradually ate into his rival’s four-length lead and reeled him in in the final 100 yards to score by a length under Adrian Heskin.
The jockey, who had schooled his mount twice at Alan King’s Banbury Castle base, said: “Alan likes them dropped in, so I rode him to come from off the pace. He was a bit keen early and I had to sit and suffer a little going up the hill where, I let him fill up and find his feet. I thought turning in I would pick them up.”
Betfair cut Tritonic to 16-1 from 20-1 for the Triumph, with Coral unchanged at 20-1.
Heskin added that he could envisage Tritonic developing into a contender for the race, saying: “He has stamina and gears and his jumping is good, while Mr (Max) McNeill has a dream to win the Triumph. He was brave up the straight and got the better of a very tough rival.
“I would say it was a fair race.”
Tom Cannon made the best of what he described as a “dream come true” in picking up the spare ride via his agent Dave Roberts on Craigneiche, a clear-cut winner of the Matchbook Better Way To Bet Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle.
Owing to Nico de Boinville partnering Buveur D’Air at Haydock and Jerry McGrath’s absence through injury, Cannon stepped in for a first ride for Nicky Henderson and the combination pulled seven lengths clear of Arrivederci on the run-in.
Craigneiche carried bottom weight of 10st 6lb and made Cannon’s morning run to make the weight worth every second as he powered home at 14-1.
The jockey enthused: “Dave Roberts texted me on Thursday morning to tell me about the ride and my mum was so thrilled she cut it out of the paper and put it in her scrapbook on the mantel piece. And I must admit I had to pinch myself .
“I could very easily have been at another meeting riding for Alan King or Chris Gordon, and thought I would be scrabbling around for a ride so it was a good feeling to get the news.
“I chatted with Nicky, who thought he was on an appropriate mark and said he’d been working well and that he gets on his toes, but although he felt fresh he settled.”
Betfair introduced the winner at 16-1 for the Coral Cup at Cheltenham.
Charlie Hammond notched a first career success at Ascot when Enqarde (4-1) overcame a tendency to jump left to land the Matchbook Best Odds Handicap Chase.
The former French-based gelding, trained by Dr Richard Newland, responded to hands and heels riding to score by three and a half lengths and two from Cobolobo and Crossley Tender.
Hammond said: “He got into a lovely rhythm, but I had to keep him up to his work from the bottom of the hill. I think he might have got there too soon, but he jumped super and luckily kept going all the way to the line, showing a great attitude.”
Hammond explained that his season has turned a corner since November and added: “I made a steady start but have got going in the last couple of months, especially for outside stables.”