Papagana made her stamina count as she floored odds-on shot Danse Idol to take the Listed 888Sport Take ‘Em On Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster.
Oliver Sherwood’s mare had finished behind Danse Idol on her last two attempts at Listed and Grade Two level at Haydock and Sandown respectively.
But over Doncaster’s three miles and half a furlong, albeit on ground on the fast side of good which had sowed some doubts for the veteran trainer, the six-year-old was tenacious and victorious.
Leighton Aspell, riding the middle leg of a treble after Movie Legend’s win in the 888Sport Bet £10 Get £30 Handicap Chase, powered clear to win by 12 lengths from Paul Nicholls’ 5-6 favourite Danse Idol.
Sherwood had his tongue in his cheek when he reflected afterwards on beating his old rival on this occasion.
“She won it by staying – you have to stay round here,” he said.
“I’m delighted to get one over on P Nicholls!”
Sherwood added: “We took a chance on the ground – we know she wants softer ground.
“It means a lot for mares to get black type and to win one, but I wouldn’t go again on that sort of ground. I hope she stays in training next year – she’s a proper mare.
“Harry Beswick, my conditional, rides her every day and he’s done a fantastic job.
“She started very low key, and she’s got better and better.”
Movie Legend’s hard-fought half-length victory was a fifth success from the last six runners Lucy Wadham has sent out from her Newmarket yard.
The trainer was not asking herself too many questions in the winner’s enclosure about what she is doing so right at present – instead enjoying the moment, having entered the nine-year-old only after the race was reopened at the five-day stage.
“Who knows? When the stable’s in form it just happens, doesn’t it?” she said
“It’s just fantastic when it all ticks into place. The right races have just come up and the horses have taken advantage of it.”
Movie Legend, who held on at 3-1 under Aspell from Theo after leading at the last in a new course-record time, was contributing the second win to the stable’s sequence – following up his Wetherby success 11 days previously.
He can therefore rest on his laurels a little, Wadham adding: “Today was the plan – well, I say it was the plan, but we (only) entered when it reopened.
“I thought it was a bit quick (after his last run). But when it repoened, I thought ‘only eight in it, we’ll have to have a look at it at least’.
“I’m thrilled with him. He’s so accurate with his jumping and needs a strong pace to aim at – and that’s what he got today, so it worked out really well.”
Who’s My Jockey head earlier put himself in with a chance of carrying Paul and Clare Rooney’s colours at Cheltenham, earning 25-1 quotes for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle – which concludes this month’s Festival.
The powerful owners recently agreed to enter their horses at the showpiece meeting, having previously decided not to have runners there due to qualms about the course.
Sean Bowen, making his first ride for Philip Hobbs a winning one, came home 10 lengths clear of Faithful Mount on the 9-4 favourite in the 888Sport Handicap Hurdle.
The jockey’s post-race analysis did not necessarily imply confidence that Who’s My Jockey may be up to winning at Cheltenham too.
“I’m delighted to win on him,” he said.
“He can be a bit of a monkey, so the cheekpieces were on and helped him today. He travelled a lot sweeter, and the three miles suited him.
“Mr Hobbs found a nice pot for him – it didn’t turn out being a great race.”
Aspell completed his treble, and a double for Sherwood, when Manning Estate (3-1) won the 888Sport Follow Us On Instagram Novices’ Hurdle by one and a half lengths from 66-1 shot Cotswold Prince.
The five-year-old was scoring for the first time after five previous bumper and hurdles runs – and on the only occasion so far that his owners Joe and Sue Norman have not travelled to watch him.
There were marginally mixed feelings on that account, but for Aspell, no such complications.
He said: “It’s been a good day, it will be a much easier drive home now.”
At the other end of the age scale, 17-year-old Tristan Durrell rode his first winner under rules at just his second attempt aboard Dan Skelton’s racecourse debutant Eyren in the closing 888Sport Standard National Hunt Flat Race.
The four-year-old filly, a 9-4 second favourite, scooted clear to win by 14 lengths.
Durrell’s grandfather was a professional jockey, and his father rode in point-to-points too.
The teenager, who has has four points wins to his name, said: “That was very good. She travelled really nicely, I thought she would be greener, but she was nice and calm and had plenty still in the tank turning in.”