Smart hurdler On The Blind Side got his season up and running at Kempton with a first victory over fences to form the middle leg of trebles for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville.
After trailing home last on his chasing debut at Cheltenham, the Grade Two-winning hurdler made no mistake on his step up to three miles in the Move Over To Matchbook Novices’ Chase, accounting for last-time-out winner Talkischeap by three and a quarter lengths.
Henderson said of the 7-4 winner: “It was nice to see him back. We’ve had to be a bit patient.
“It (Cheltenham) was over two and a half miles and they jumped off very quick and he nudged the first and I’ve seen it happen so many times before at Cheltenham.
“He obviously wants three miles and he wants to do that again, as that has got his confidence up again. He enjoyed it today, which was great.”
Precious Cargo (6-4) made his stable debut a winning one to get the ball rolling for the pair when shrugging of a 282-day absence to secure a three-and-a-quarter-length success in the Matchbook Betting Exchange Novices’ Hurdle.
Henderson said: “He was a bit keen. He needs to learn to switch off a bit. Lucinda (Russell) had him last year, but Thomas (Barr, owner) wanted a horse down south.
“He will be over fences next year, as he is a great jumper. You wouldn’t want to go further (than two miles), as they don’t go fast enough.
“He will be going quietly and he doesn’t need to be going anywhere spectacular. I might put a hood on him next time, as he was plenty keen enough.”
Having found one to good on his last two starts, Pym – sporting the silks of Atior’s owner Patricia Pugh – completed the Henderson and De Boinville haul when holding stablemate The Cashel Man at bay by a neck in the Matchbook VIP Novices’ Hurdle.
Henderson said of the 8-13 favourite: “He deserved that. He had come up against two decent horses. We just freshened him up a bit. He is back on track, though I nearly messed it up myself.
“I do think the EBF Final would be his race. There are still qualifiers, but it might be a bit of a rush. Nico said he learnt a lot today. He is going to get three miles over fences.”
Lifting the Gentleman Jockeys National Hunt Championship is on Noel George’s radar this season and Song Saa (8-1), trained by his father, Tom, helped him get another winner on the board with a six-length success in the Matchbook Casino Handicap Chase.
George said: “Once she got into a rhythm it was a case of filling her up after every fence. She is a serious jumper for a small little filly. She will potentially go to stud now.”
He added: “I’d like to give the amateur title a go this season. I’ve had a few seconds and I’m a few behind the leader at the moment.”
After landing a much-talked-about £140 fine for waving his arms at the start to encourage a horse to race at Uttoxeter on Saturday, trainer Henry Oliver began his week on a brighter note when Hirjan (11-2) triumphed in his absence in the Matchbook Betting Podcast Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.