Didtheyleaveuoutto pleased connections when making a successful debut over jumps in the Pudding Norton ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle at Fakenham.
A dual bumper winner last term, Didtheyleaveuoutto was sent off the 2-5 favourite and while he only got up in the closing stages to deny long-time leader Starjac, he won a shade cosily.
Barry Geraghty was happy to sit in fourth place on the JP McManus-owned five-year-old as first Gold Runner, then Starjac set a sedate pace, until the latter increased the tempo on the final circuit of the tight course.
Didtheyleaveuoutto made smooth progress into second place before two out and soon challenged Starjac, who proved a nut to crack. However, Nick Gifford’s charge asserted on the short run-in to score by a neck.
“It was a bit nerve-wracking as they went that steady early on and then suddenly they quickened, but I did like the way he closed the gap very quickly and that gave me more confidence,” Gifford told At The Races.
“I thought he was actually very clever and he can only get slicker. He’ll have a learnt a lot today.
“It was absolutely ideal in the respect that he’s had a great education out there. He’s had to fight for that today. I’m delighted with him.
“All round it was a very good performance.”
He added: “I should think we’ll probably find another small race with a penalty. He’s still got to learn his trade. We’re getting there, but they’re not the team to throw him in the deep end.
“If we were lucky enough to win again, then he’d have to go up in grade, but I think we’ll have to find another little one somewhere.
“If he’s good enough the objective will be at the end of the season.”
McManus and Geraghty had high hopes of a double with Movewiththetimes, but the Paul Nicholls-trained seven-year-old crashed out at the eighth fence in the Greene King IPA Novices’ Chase.
The departure of the 4-6 favourite left his market rival Knocknanuss (9-4) to come home a facile winner by 21 lengths from Jaisalmer for trainer Gary Moore in the hands of his son, Jamie.
“He’s very keen horse, but when he’s on-song he’s decent,” said the winning rider.
“He did surprise me when he fell at Plumpton. He just got on a run down the hill and I couldn’t get him back. That was his first run and it just took the freshness out of him.
“As soon as he hit the deck at Plumpton, myself and dad both said we’d go to Fakenham in 10 days’ time. We wanted to get him out quick enough.”