Global Citizen gave trainer Ben Pauling a much-needed boost with a game front-running success in the Ladbrokes Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton.
After beating only one home on his chasing debut at Carlisle in October, the seven-year-old returned to something near his best to gain the third Grade Two victory of his career.
Faced with a number of challengers over the last two obstacles, the 8-1 shot pulled out plenty from the front to defeat Rouge Vif by a length and a half.
Pauling said: “If he didn’t win today he would probably have gone back for the Champion Hurdle, that’s why we threw him in at the deep end on ground that he would not necessarily love. He is good fresh, so you might not see him out until the spring.
“He has got so many gears, he just makes it so hard to get on terms with him. They were all queuing up behind him, but to get to him is one thing – to get past is another.
“He showed guts there. When he is right, he is gutsy as hell. He is a brave lad, but he jumped brilliantly.
“At the time I was probably a bit more disappointed (with Carlisle) than I was a week later, as everything wasn’t running well.
“I knew how good he was as he was rated 160 at one point over hurdles. I thought if he could emulate that form, he would be a good horse for the Arkle or Aintree. He has got to be one of the best of the British (for the Arkle).”
The Bourton-on-the-Water handler hopes victory for Global Citizen, who was cut into 16-1 for the Arkle by Paddy Power, is a sign of things to come for the remainder of the yard’s campaign, after enduring a disappointing first half of the season.
He added: “It’s been hugely frustrating. It has been disappointing for the yard, for the owners and everyone, as there has not been much wrong.
“But they have turned a corner now by the look of things and hopefully we can kick on for the rest of the season.
“It has been tough, but we have a lot of nice horses and hopefully we can start to get going.”
Harry Whittington believes a recent wind operation had the desired effect on the runner-up Rouge Vif and earmarked the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick in February as a potential target.
He said: “That was a much better run. We did a little tweak of his wind and that has probably helped him. More positive tactics helped today, but he will be a better horse on better ground.
“He didn’t really get out of the ground over the first and third, but once he got in a rhythm, his jumping was much better.
“We could go for a little novice chase next, although we also had the Kingmaker in mind. Gavin (Sheehan) thinks he will get two and a half miles later on.”