Impulsive Star shed his maiden tag over fences with a determined victory in the McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Chase at Warwick.
Neil Mulholland’s charge was winless after five previous outings over the larger obstacles, but had run some fine races in defeat, most notably finishing fourth in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham in March.
The eight-year-old was last seen chasing home Ok Corral – a winner earlier on the card – at Plumpton last month and was an 8-1 shot making his handicap debut under a light weight in this prestigious contest.
Last year’s winner Milansbar gave a bold sight in front for much of the three-mile-five-furlong journey, but was a spent force racing down the back straight for the second time and Impulsive Star took the lead under Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey Sam Waley-Cohen, carrying the colours of his father, Robert.
Calett Mad and Crosspark both threw down strong challenges in the home straight, but Mulholland’s charge dug deep and saw off the former by three and a quarter lengths.
Mulholland, who also saddled the fourth home Carole’s Destrier, said: “I’m delighted with him (Impulsive Star). He had a nice little pipe-opener round Plumpton the other day and obviously the winner of that race won earlier on.
“We knew he’d improve for the run, he had a light weight on his back today and we felt he was on a nice mark. It all came together on the day.
Impulsive Star is in line for another tilt at the National Hunt Chase, for which he was cut to around 14-1. The aforementioned Ok Corral is the 3-1 favourite.
Mulholland added: “He ran well in the National Hunt Chase last year and obviously he’s still a novice, so that’s the plan again.
“The other horse (Carole’s Destrier) ran a cracker as well. All the horses seem to be in good form, so we’re very happy.”
“He’ll have an entry in the Grand National, but the National Hunt Chase is his main target.
“I don’t know if we’ll run him again before Cheltenham or not. I’ll mull it over and talk with the owners, but he could do.
“He’s quite a laid-back sort of horse who needs plenty of work, so he’ll have to do something three weeks before the Festival.”