It was a tale of two wind ops at Wetherby as both Kalahari Queen and Movie Legend won on their first outings since having a procedure.
Jamie Snowden’s Kalahari Queen was winning for the first time over fences in the EBF/TBA Mares’ Novices’ Chase – and while she faced only two rivals, they were both of reasonable ability.
Sent off the 5-4 favourite under Gavin Sheehan, Kalahari Queen took it up just before the last and pulled three and three-quarter lengths clear of Little Miss Poet.
“She deserved to win and didn’t run badly last time out,” said Snowden.
“She had her wind done after her last run, and it looks to have made a difference – her jumping was more assured.
“She’s only six, so she’s the type to keep on improving.
“I’d imagine the final of this series at Cheltenham in April is where she’ll go. But if she’d got beaten today we could have looked at the Mares’ Hurdle at the Festival and kept her as a novice over fences.”
Lucy Wadham’s Movie Legend (4-1) was another to benefit from a wind op in the wetherbyracing.co.uk Handicap Chase.
Ridden confidently by Leighton Aspell, his first ride since being thrown through the wing by Pobbles Bay in Saturday’s Grand National Trial at Haydock, Movie Legend jumped alongside Mixboy at the last before pulling a length and three-quarters clear.
It capped a fine start to the week for Wadham, who won the Surrey National with Le Reve on Monday.
“It’s great to see these old horses running well,” she said.
“He had his wind tinkered with last month – that was the third time he’d had it done – and he’s a proper two-miler with the way he jumps.
“Whenever he’s gone up in class he’s tended to struggle, so we’ll look for something similar.”
Fergal O’Brien’s Coolanly was all the rage in the Every Race Live On Racing TV Novices’ Hurdle, having run in a Grade One last time out, but he had no answer to Schiehallion Munro.
Sent off at 10-1, Micky Hammond’s six-year-old travelled nicely into contention for Billy Garritty and showed too much pace for the 8-15 favourite, winning by three-quarters of a length.
“That was very good – Billy timed it to perfection,” said Hammond.
“We planned it to have one go at the favourite after the last, and it came off. It doesn’t usually.
“He wanted to win, which was nice to see. We’ll have to see what the handicapper does to him now.”
Garritty was, however, suspended for four-days for using his whip in the incorrect place.
Lynn Siddall and the owners of First Of Never (40-1) had their patience rewarded as he won the Watch Racing TV In Stunning HD Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle – his first success, at the 43rd time of asking and the age of 13.
“I’m not that surprised, because he’s always been genuine,” said Siddall.
“He’s suited by a big field, good ground and a fast pace – so he had everything in his favour today.
“I told Blair (Campbell) to hold on to him as long as he could, and he gave him a great ride.
“Some of the owners have had him all the way through – and they’ve backed him at 50-1 today. So they are very happy.”
Only a nose separated Minella For Me (3-1) and Lough Salt in the Join Racing TV Now Handicap Chase – but the eventual result caught most people on the hop, including winning trainer Tom George.
Lough Salt flashed home under Aspell, who thought he had won, while Paddy Brennan on Minella For Me was not confident.
The judge took five minutes to call the result, and it was George and Brennan who were celebrating.
“I genuinely didn’t know who’d won,” said George.
“The extra half a mile suited him. It’s taken a long time for him to learn to settle.”
Rodeo Dodo (5-1 co-favourite) defied a 486-day absence to win the Follow @racingtv On Twitter Handicap Hurdle.
Sadly the race was marred by a fatal injury to Magic Dragon, who still held every chance when breaking down in the home straight.