Cheltenham Festival hero Kilbricken Storm made a successful start to his chasing career with a narrow victory in testing conditions at Ffos Las.
The point-to-point graduate was a surprise winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Prestbury Park in March, but proved that effort was no fluke when finishing a close-up third in a Grade One at Punchestown the following month.
He was the 8-11 favourite for his seasonal reappearance and debut over regulation fences in the Walters Group Novices’ Chase, and went to the lead at the halfway stage under Sam Twiston-Davies.
Kilbricken Storm looked booked for minor honours when Jonjo O’Neill’s Cobolobo headed him after the final fence, but Colin Tizzard’s charge battled back admirably in the heavy ground to get back up and score by a short head.
Tizzard told At The Races: “I’m glad he’s jumped round and won. Halfway up the run-in he was a head down, but he stuck his head out and carried on.
“Watching him walk around beforehand, I thought he looked a little bit burly and he had to make his own running. He’s won, so we’re happy.
“I’m sure he’ll sharpen up no end. His jumping wants to be polished a bit, but it’s a nice starting point.
“In three weeks’ time I think there’s a three-mile novice chase at the Ladbrokes meeting at Newbury. If he comes out of this OK that will be ideal for him, something like that.
“We’ll step on up through the gears and run him on Grade One tracks until he tells us differently.”
Kilbricken Storm was one of three winners on the card for Tizzard, with 10lb claimer Harry Kimber steering 16-1 shot Buckhorn Timothy home in front in the Walters Group Handicap Hurdle, while Queen Of The Wind (5-1) took the conditional riders’ handicap hurdle in the hands of Benjamin Godfrey.
The Dorset-based trainer also enjoyed a double at Sandown to give him an across-the-card five-timer.
Elsewhere at Ffos Las, Anthony Honeyball’s star youngster Acey Milan suffered a shock defeat on his hurdling debut.
The four-year-old won three bumpers last season, including Listed events at Cheltenham and Newbury, and finished fourth when favourite for the Champion Bumper at the Festival.
He was a 4-9 favourite on his first start since in the Peter Bowen Racing Club Maiden Hurdle, but was beaten into second by Philip Hobbs-trained 14-1 shot Truckin Away.
Honeyball said: “I’m very happy with him. You want to win, but he jumped right and did everything right – he just didn’t win.
“He blew up turning in. The Hobbs horse was really fit and we just didn’t have a chance to get a second wind.
“It was great to see him keep going and he should improve a lot.”
Despite Acey Milan’s reverse, Honeyball still enjoyed two winners courtesy of Le Coeur Net (13-2) and Jepeck (6-5 favourite), both ridden by 7lb claimer Rex Dingle.
Honeyball added: “If you’d have said to me we’d have a double I’d have said ‘great, Acey Milan won and we had a double’. He didn’t even win and we had a double, so it’s a strange old day.”