Bargain buy Militarian continued to prove money well spent by springing a 50-1 shock to give father-and-son team Andrew and James Martin their first ever Ascot winner.
Picked up for just £600 at the Ascot October mixed sale in 2015, the nine-year-old took his earnings past the £50,000 mark as he ran out the winner of the inthepaddock.co.uk Handicap Chase on his seasonal return.
Despite being pressed late on by Cloth Cap and eventual runner-up, last season’s Aintree Foxhunters’ winner Top Wood, the rank outsider found plenty from the back of the last to score by four lengths.
Martin senior, who also runs a farrier business, said: “We were worried about the (soft) ground – but like I said to James, it has hardly been raced on, so you are getting the best of it.
“I said we have to run – because there won’t be anything in the next few weeks, as we knew he was well. This was really special.
“To see him go so well today and jump well is what it’s all about, and that’s why we train. We won’t be rushing back to run him.”
Savouring the occasion, Martin junior was quick to praise the talents of Militarian.
The 24-year-old said: “I’m absolutely delighted. It’s nice to have winner here in a competitive handicap like this, and he has run a blinder.
“We are very lucky to have him, and he has been a good flagship horse for us. It is nice to ride around here, let alone have a winner. I’m overjoyed.”
Colin Tizzard is excited about what the future holds for Master Debonair, after the Listed bumper winner went one better than last time out with a decisive seven-length success in the Join Kim Bailey Racing “Introductory” Hurdle.
Tizzard said of the 11-10 winner: “Most of ours have needed a run this season, and I don’t mind that at all. He was only beaten half a length.
“This one could do anything over hurdles in this ground. Robbie (Power) said he has got a hell of an engine.”
Looking ahead to future targets, the Gold Cup-winning trainer hinted a trip to Kempton on Boxing Day could be next on the agenda for Master Debonair.
He added: “Hopefully he will stick to the novice route, and the obvious race could be the one at Kempton on Boxing Day.
“The owners are quite keen to go handicapping. I’ve never really had one for those big handicap hurdles. We will see what mark he gets.”
Nigel Twiston-Davies will work back from the Randox Health Grand National with Flying Angel, after the eight-year-old gained his first success since Grade One glory at Aintree in April 2017 when taking the Creativevents Handicap Chase by eight lengths.
Twiston-Davies said of the 3-1 winner: “He has come down the handicap, and it was his turn. Hopefully they don’t get too vicious with him. He just outstayed the others.
“He will be entered in the National and things like that. He is a stayer and jumps well.”
Hughie Morrison showed why it is important to always have a Plan B when former Dee Stakes winner Not So Sleepy (6-1) claimed a front-running, two-length victory in the Rewarding Ownership With The ROA Handicap Hurdle.
The East Ilsley trainer said: “He was supposed to be on holiday, because the plan was the November Handicap. That was called off, so we took a chance here.
“I thought he was gone half-way down the back straight – but he picked up well again.”