Warren Greatrex may take a tried-and-tested route with Emitom after the exciting novice hurdler maintained his unbeaten record with a facile victory at Lingfield.
The Lambourn trainer was on hand at the Surrey track to watch the five-year-old – whom he rates one of the best horses he has had – make it four from four under rules in the starsports.bet Novices’ Hurdle.
It was nearly a case of being over before it began, though, when the 1-8 favourite forced jockey Gavin Sheehan to sit tight with a blunder at the first.
As the race took shape, the market leader gradually warmed to the task and only needed to be shaken up to see off runner-up Megalodon by five lengths.
Emitom was left unchanged, after his latest win, at 25-1 by Paddy Power for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Greatrex said: “That wasn’t ideal at the first, but in a funny kind of way it probably woke him up a bit.
“Like I’ve said all along, his jumping has taken a bit of time to come to hand – but he was good after that. He is coming back after a setback, where he was under the weather.
“There were a few ideas of going somewhere grand – but as he had been off a while, I thought the best thing to do was win another one.
“He has got loads of class, and I think he is a good horse. He is one of those horses whose biggest asset is his character. ”
That will be tested again, because an inevitable rise in class is on the agenda next.
Greatrex added: “I would say that has done him good over two miles, and Gavin said you could stick to two miles on a stiffer track – but I think two and a half is his best trip at the moment.
“I’d like to step him up in class, and maybe something like the Sidney Banks (at Huntingdon next month) could be an option.
“We have done well in that race, the last few years.
“He needs to sharpen up to be competitive around Cheltenham , but it could be when we put him in a better race he becomes more alert. Talent-wise, he is as good as I’ve had.”
There was no one sporting a bigger smile at the Surrey track than jockey Matthew Fielding after veteran Kastani Beach became his first winner under rules, taking the Watch The #bettingpeople Videos starsportsbet.co.uk Amateur Riders’ Handicap Hurdle by 18 lengths.
Fielding said: “I rode a winner point-to-point, and that feeling was brilliant – and I felt just as good again today. I’ve ridden in point-to-point races for Seamus (Mullins) – but this is only my sixth ride under rules, so it’s been a good start.”
Victory for the evergreen 13-year-old sparked a double celebration, because it provided Mullins with a winner on his 57th birthday.
“If someone said to me this morning I would have a winner on my birthday I didn’t think it would be (Kastani Beach),” said the trainer.
“He has been a wonderful servant for us.
“He will go for the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Memorial Amateur Riders’ Handicap Hurdle at Sandown again now. That’s his Cheltenham Gold Cup. To give young Matthew his first winner is brilliant.”
Making it to the track was a mission in itself for owner Jane May, but the effort was made worthwhile after the Lucy Wadham-trained Potters Midnight claimed the Read Davy Russell’s Exclusive Blog starsportsbet.co.uk Handicap Hurdle at 7-1.
May said: “Yesterday I fractured my knee and tore some ligaments. We’ve got a St Bernard and a Turkish Kangal that is bigger than the St Bernard – and it was going about 40mph when it hit me. The doctor said ‘Don’t go racing’.
There was a sting in the tail for jockey Tom O’Brien, with a seven-day ban for failing to weigh-in on Shaw’s Cross – who was subsequently disqualified from third.
After a testing few months, owner Ashley Head hopes that the two- length victory secured by the Gary Moore-trained Early Du Lemo in the starsports.bet Handicap Chase is a sign of things to come.
Head said: “We’ve got a lot of good horses – we have just not been getting that bit of luck – but I think it’s going to turn now.
“We had 23 winners very quickly, and the last six to nine months since Ar Mad died everything has gone wrong. It is very nice to see a change.”
Moore added on the 11-4 winner: “He galloped four times round Leicester before they caught him, and he did the same thing when he fell the time before that. I was worried about running him so quick – but we had to take our chance, and he seems fine.”
Parlour Maid provided the eight-strong Rolling Aces syndicate, trainer Richard Hawker and jockey Shane Quinlan with their first Lingfield winner, taking the two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase by three and a quarter lengths.
Syndicate member Jack Bartram said: “We are all good friends that have been into racing for a long time, so we got a group together to buy one. It’s our first winner – and we were going mad on the finish line!”