It was almost a case of ‘as you were’ after Atlanta Ablaze maintained trainer Henry Daly’s perfect record in the eventmasters.co.uk Lady Godiva Mares’ Novices Chase at Warwick.
With the Listed race falling victim to the weather last year, the Ludlow-based handler saw the seven-year-old add to the victory of Briery Belle in the inaugural running of the two-and-a-half-mile prize in 2016, when cruising home by 19 lengths to initiate a brace for Richard Johnson.
Daly said of the 5-1 winner, his first in 29 days: “I was a bit disappointed last time at Market Rasen. She just never travelled well over three miles, yet today over two and a half she jumped and travelled.
“She does jump and when you have one that does you’ve always have got half a chance. You have got to run in Listed races with penalties now. She might be better with a penalty against the boys with the mares’ allowance.
“Briery Belle was a better-looking mare, whereas this one is a classic Kayf Tara that gets on with it and does it well – you can’t ask for more than that.”
Nicky Henderson has no shortage of promising types on his hands and Birchdale looked to be another when earning a 20-1 quote for next year’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle with Paddy Power in taking the Actioncoach Invest In The Best Maiden Hurdle.
Assistant trainer Toby Lawes said of the 9-4 victor: “That was very good. He has always looked like a really smart horse that has loads of size and scope.
“Barry (Geraghty) said that trip (two-miles-five-furlongs) is good and that he wants every yard of it. In time he will be the most magnificent three-mile chaser.
“He is a really smart horse for the future and everything he achieves this year is a bonus. He is a really exciting prospect.
“We could possibly come back for the Leamington. We won that with Mr Whipped last year and it’s a nice race. Something like that would be right up his street.”
Johnson enjoyed further success when completing a double for his boss Philip Hobbs with Keep Rolling (5-1) in the M-Tec Consulting Group Standard National Open National Hunt Flat Race.
Hobbs’ wife, Sarah, said: “He was supposed to do that at Newbury, but he was far too fresh. Richard said he had grown up a lot today.
“We’ve been trying to get to 60 (winners for the season) before January 1 and that puts us one away.
“We always try to get over 100 winners and £1.5million in prize money. Last season was a terrible season, as we only had 63 winners, which most trainers would be happy with.
“We’ve been so consistent the last 20 years and this year we are on song.”
Keep Moving (6-1) got the ball rolling for the Minehead handler when gaining his first win at the 15th time of asking with a 13-length success in the BHSF Handicap Chase.
Aidan Coleman got his timing spot on aboard Quarenta (5-2) as the six-year-old made it two wins from as many visits to the track when getting up by a neck in the Tom Gaughan Memorial Handicap Chase.
Trainer Jonjo O’Neill said: “He jumped really well and travelled really well through the race but he often does that and it doesn’t happen. Aidan gave him a great spin.”