Israel Champ can expect to be set some lofty targets in the spring after giving trainer David Pipe back-to-back victories in the Isobel Championship Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race at Ascot.
Having struck 12 months ago with Eden Du Houx, the Pond House Stables handler saw the Listed prize head his way again, as the four-year-old successfully defied a penalty for his victory at the same level at Cheltenham last time out.
Prominently ridden throughout, the 8-1 chance showed an abundance of heart when required, to defeat the previously-unbeaten Soaring Glory by a length and three-quarters.
Pipe said: “He had a 4lb penalty, but he put up a good performance. We have always liked our fellow. He tends to do a little bit too much early on, but the hood helps him and hopefully he has got a bright future.
“The trainer got him beat at Worcester and like my school report said, ‘could do better’, but we learnt from that and sometimes you learn more from defeat than in victory and hopefully he is a nice one for the future.
“You have Newbury in February, Cheltenham in March and Punchestown. The owners wouldn’t mind going for the Cheltenham bumper, but at the same time they are not obsessed, so we will see.
“Hopefully he will be around in three or four years’ time.”
Mr Muldoon (6-1) returned to winning ways when sticking to his task well in the Thames Materials Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle under Cillin Leonard – who is developing quite a record for himself at Ascot.
Winning trainer Dr Richard Newland said: “I nearly didn’t run him, but I thought heavy ground would suit and he ran a super race. He was given a superb ride by Cillin, who is now three from three here.”
Whatsupwithyou continued a recent upturn in form for trainer Ben Pauling when springing a 33-1 surprise on his debut under rules in the eventmasters.co.uk Maiden Hurdle.
Pauling, speaking from Uttoxeter, said: “He is a lovely little horse, that has worked nicely at home without being a stand out. He is a proper trier, though, that has always jumped nicely.
“To be honest it was quite a nice surprise to see him run so well with the way the horses have been. It looks like we are turning a bit of a corner.”
Greaneteen debuted over fences in style, accounting for former Champion Bumper runner-up Debuchet in the Ascot Supports Thames Hospice Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.
Nicholls said of the 3-1 winner: “He was a bit disappointing at Chepstow, but a lot of them were disappointing at Chepstow that day. He is very keen, as he was there. He jumped his way to the front, but he kept enough in reserve to keep going.
“He is obviously a nice horse, but he has just got to learn to switch off. He was always going to be a better chaser than hurdler and he jumped well, so that was ideal.”