Nick Scholfield secured his first treble of the season with victory aboard Two Sams in the Book For Christmas At Plumpton Now Handicap Hurdle.
The Grade One-winning rider stole the show at the Sussex track when the six-year-old gelding made his first start for trainer Jeremy Scott a winning one – striding clear in the closing stages to score by two lengths.
Scholfield said: “I can’t remember my last treble – but it is the first of the season, so it is all good.
“They’re all good trainers to ride for – Paul Henderson, Jack Barber and Jeremy Scott – plus I know the horses well, which helps.
“You can look like a hero or zero on them.”
Two Sams had been showing all the right signs at home, and was sent off 11-8 favourite.
Scholfield said: “He has probably taken time to mature, and Jeremy was happy with how he was at home, so it was no surprise he ran well.
“He is a funny horse, and a change of scenery might have done him good.”
Shintori formed the middle leg of Scholfield’s haul, coming from last to first to make a winning seasonal return with a length-and-a-quarter success in the SW Catering Handicap Chase
Barber said of the 4-1 winner: “You have to ride him like that – and for a jockey that is very hard, because they either pull it off or get slated for getting beaten.
“Nick gets on well with the horse, and to carry round 12st 5lb on his first start of the season is a mighty performance.”
Crossley Tender appeared to benefit from a change of tactics – gaining compensation at 12-1, following his failure to complete on his last appearance at Pumpton – to get Scholfield up and running when obliging by two lengths in the Revived Inns Novices’ Handicap Chase.
Henderson said: “It was a bit of a slow-run race last time, and he was stuck in behind.
“The horse got frustrated, and that’s why he unseated.
“Nick (Scholfield) came in and schooled him on Saturday, and we decided to let him roll on and lead, and if he couldn’t do that sit handy. He has jumped much better today.”
Dan McGrue continued his recent revival to complete doubles for Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden when pulling out plenty to claim the feature John and Jean Taylor’s Diamond Anniversary Handicap Hurdle by three-quarters of a length at 13-2.
Assistant trainer Harry Derham said: “He got so much confidence, finishing second last time. Last season he wasn’t finishing his races, and that was probably down to his breathing.
“He had a wind operation over the summer, and his last race was good because he really finished well -and he realised that racing doesn’t hurt him.”
Plenty of schooling at home paid dividends for Calva D’Auge (100/30), who got the ball rolling for Nicholls and Cobden when making his British debut a winning one with a two-and-three-quarter-length success in the That Friday-Ad-Feeling Maiden Hurdle.
Derham said: “We’ve schooled him loads at home. It has taken time with him, and he is probably bored of schooling, but he jumped well and he didn’t make a mistake.
“Harry said he pulled quite hard – and I thought on that ground he might get a bit tired – but he picked up well.”