There has been little for trainer Anthony Honeyball to smile about this season – but that could soon change after talented performer Acey Milan opened his account over hurdles at Plumpton on Wednesday.
After suffering an odds-on defeat on his last visit to the track in December, the dual Listed bumper winner, having at one stage looked held, rallied close to the line to take the Happy Birthday Kim Shaw Novices’ Hurdle by half a length.
Honeyball said of the 11-8 winner: “I thought he was beaten turning in, but I’m very pleased he has won and he has still got plenty of the season in front of him. I don’t think that has catapulted him into the Ballymore.
“If it is soft ground we might go up to Kelso for a £50,000 Grade Two novices’ hurdle just before Cheltenham. It was a race in the back of our minds.”
On his form this season, he added: “We’ve just had the classic trainer patter in that we have had a virus. We’ve had it before and we just learnt to give them a few weeks off.”
Further back in the field jockey Dave Crosse finished seventh aboard the Charlie Mann-trained Blackfyre, on his first ride back since recovering from multiple fractures to his humerus sustained in a schooling incident in September.
Crosse said: “It is great to get my eye back in again. I had a good spin round and I feel fine. I’m on 198 winners and I’m desperate to get to 200 winners.”
Alan King will be looking for suitable opportunities to get Good Man Pat out again quickly, to ensure he gets into the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Having finished third on his chasing debut at the track last month, the six-year-old put himself into contention for securing a £60,000 bonus should he win at Prestbury Park next month when taking the Sedgefielders Chase by a length and a half.
King said of the 5-6 winner: “That was a heartstopping moment as I thought he had gone down at the second-last. Wayne (Hutchinson) has done well to pick him up again.
“It was a lovely run last time and I hoped he would build on that. The handicap (Close Brothers) is his race, but he needs another run before a week on Sunday.
“We will give him a few entries, but it is not set in stone he will go to Cheltenham.”
After winning the charity space hopper race before action on the track got under way, jockey Tom Scudamore added another winner to his name as the Daivd Pipe-trained Duc De Beauchene ran out a length winner of the IEP Financial Handicap Hurdle.
Scudamore said of the 5-2 winner: “He jumped really nicely and handled everything well. He showed plenty of guts from the second-last.”
Hope’s Wishes, from the yard of Barry Brennan, ended her winless run stretching back to March 2016 when holding on by a short head in the Book For Easter Now Conditional Jockeys’ Mares Handicap Hurdle, to give jockey Jordan Nailor his first winner in 76 days.
Nailor of the 11-4 winner: “I thought she would have every chance after her last run. She won well and was always hanging on in there.
“It is good to get a winner, as it helps get the confidence back up again.”