Just A Sting gained his first win in over a year when laying to rest his Kempton ghost with victory in the Ladbrokes “Where The Nation Plays” Handicap Chase.
Having finished a respectable fourth on his comeback in a Listed race at Wincanton last month, the Harry Fry-trained seven-year-old held off the late challenge of Quarenta by a head to end a recent spell in the doldrums.
Fry said of the 9-2 winner: “He was second in the race last year and then the wheels came off a bit. He came back and ran a nice race at Wincanton, where his jumping let him down. Today he jumped a lot better.
“I was nervous about the ground – I felt he wanted better ground, but we just thought he had to take his chance.
“I suppose something like that (888Sport Handicap Chase back at Kempton) would be natural, having run well in this.”
Miranda (12-1) left her below-par return at Sandown behind when giving Harry Cobden his 50th winner of the season with a four-length victory in the Ladbrokes Football “Acca-Boosty” Handicap Hurdle.
Winning trainer Paul Nicholls said: “She came in a bit late and needed the run that day at Sandown, so we have done a lot with her since then. I thought she would need the run again today, but she travelled well.
“She will definitely have an entry in the Betfair Hurdle and she might creep into it, who knows.
“The Imperial Cup might suit her, as Harry said she wants to go right-handed, but it was nice to win today and go forward from there.”
Ben Case will look for opportunities to claim some valuable black type with Coded Message (10-1), following her convincing 10 length triumph in the Ladbrokes Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.
Case said: “It turned into a bit of a sprint at Doncaster up the straight and she didn’t have a hard race. She has only just stepped up to three miles this season and seems to get it well.
“We will look for a similar race and see if we can get some black type somewhere.”
Rowland Ward bounced back from a recent fall at Warwick when staying on impressively in the Ladbrokes Daily Odds Boosts Introductory Juvenile Hurdle.
Although keen early on, the Stuart Edmunds-trained three-year-old soon settled into a nice rhythm before powering clear from the back of the last in the two-mile prize to defeat long-time leader Thyme White by a length and three-quarters.
Winning jockey Ciaran Gethings said of the 9-1 scorer: “We really liked him before Warwick and the fall there probably looked worse than it was.
“He was keen over the first two today, but once we jumped the two down the side, he dropped his head and he has actually won it quite nicely. For a horse that had fallen last time, he was very good – long and brave at the last.
“I’ve not ridden too many good juveniles, but he is as good a feel as I’ve got off a juvenile and he is still learning, which is a bonus.”
Paddy Power and Unibet introduced the winner at 33-1 for the Triumph Hurdle.