Vinndication earned quotes for the Cheltenham Festival after maintaining his unbeaten record with a winning debut over fences in the Smarkets Novices’ Chase at Carlisle.
Sent off the even-money favourite to beat a deep field, the rain-softened ground suited the Kim Bailey-trained five-year-old as he made all the running.
He briefly looked threatened by Red Rising before Uncle Alastair loomed large at the second-last, but Vinndication found plenty for pressure for David Bass to win by two lengths.
“I was delighted with him, because we had no intention of making all, as he’s a horse who doesn’t do a whole lot in front,” said Bailey.
“To do what he did, I was very pleased. They looked a really nice bunch of horses in the paddock, so I was delighted.
“I’m happy with him over two and a half miles for now, I’d also have no worries about dropping him back to two miles on soft ground, so we’ve got plenty of options. I’ll just see how he comes out of the race first.
“Today was a big day for him going from being a novice hurdler to a novice chaser, but he did it very well.”
Paddy Power cut Vinndication to 20-1 from 33s for the RSA Chase and 25-1 from the same price for the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in March.
There was a surprise in the Weatherbys Hamilton Graduation Chase, when Paul Nicholls’ odds-on favourite Dolos was run down late in the day by Chris Gordon’s Highway One O One (7-2).
And there was a winner of note in the getsbk.com The Super-Price Sportsbook Handicap Chase, with the two-and-a-half-mile contest going the way of the Lucinda Russell-trained Ryalex, who is missing his left ear.
Sent off the 4-1 favourite, the seven-year-old was sent on some way from home by Stephen Mulqueen and bounded to victory by 24 lengths from Sudski Star.
Grand National-winning handler Russell tweeted: “He may only have one ear but he has a big heart #ryalex #winner well done Stephen, County Set 5, Keith Hunter and everyone at home @RobHunter87.”