Sean Bowen made the long journey to Kelso worthwhile with a double, thanks to rides of contrasting styles.
His strike-rate at the Borders venue is now pushing 50 per cent and he certainly appears to know how to ride the track better than most.
Bowen’s day began on Kupatana, whose career over fences had not gone to plan to date after a promising start, having failed to complete on three of her last four outings.
A change of scenery from Nicky Henderson to Paul Nicholls had not had an immediate impact, as with her last race in the bag, she had fallen at the second-last.
However, the six-year-old barely put a foot wrong in the EBF/TBA Mares’ Novices’ Chase.
After pinching a lengthy lead early on, Brian Hughes and My Old Gold had closed right up and even taken a slight advantage at one stage, but Bowen still had some horse under him and was soon back in control.
By the second-last My Old Gold was beaten, allowing Kupatana (2-1) to cruise to an 18-length victory.
In the following Bernhard Lighting Rig Handicap Hurdle, Bowen was only in eighth place on the run to the second-last flight on Winston C, but it is a relatively stiff finish and all was not lost.
Champagne City had gone for home but as his stride began to shorten, Bowen sensed a chance on Harry Fry’s 9-2 favourite, who showed a good attitude on just his fourth start to get there right on the line.
Speaking from Newbury, Fry said: “I’d given up on him turning in, but thankfully Sean didn’t give up the ghost.
“I don’t know how he has managed to pull his way out and weave his way through to get up on the line.
“He had gone up 11lb for winning a novice hurdle last time and I thought his chances of winning a handicap had gone.
“The handicapper nearly got it right, but thankfully he got up on the line. That was my first winner up there.”
The feature Liz Adam Memorial Handicap Chase went the way of the novice Some Chaos (4-1), who won despite some hairy leaps on the way round.
Since going chasing the Michael Scudamore-trained eight-year-old has risen from a rating of 102 and was winning this off 138, looking a potential National horse of some description.
He looked to have a fight on his hands at the last as Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Blue Flight, chasing a Kelso hat-trick, jumped to the front despite going up a stone for beating Black Corton last time out.
But the 8lb Some Chaos was getting just made the difference on the pull to the line, as jockey Ben Poste landed the most lucrative success of his career.
Winning connections indicated next year’s Scottish National could be an aim, while a valuable novice handicap at Ayr might be where he finishes this season.
Another southern raider, Burrows Park (5-1), was a clear-cut winner of the Paxtons Exclusively Kverneland Handicap Hurdle for Venetia Williams.
A respectable ninth of 24 in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham last week, those exertions had obviously not left a mark as Charlie Deutsch made an early bid for home.
Arthurs Secret flattered to deceive and it was left to Fry’s Captain Drake to challenge after the last, although the result was never in any serious doubt.