Papagana moved nearer to fulfilling her connections’ Cheltenham Festival dream as she proved stamina is her forte to win the Racing TV Mares’ Hurdle at Kempton.
After ending last season with victory in a Listed event at Doncaster, the Oliver Sherwood-trained six-year-old made a triumphant return at the same level in the extended three-mile contest.
Forging on after the third last, the 9-2 shot found plenty for pressure to defeat favourite Culture De Sivola by nine lengths.
Sherwood said: “Dominic (Burke, owner) bred her – which is always more attractive.
“She has won two Listed races, and she is worth a lot of money now.
“We got away with the ground at Doncaster, and that is why we stopped with her. Once we had the rain, this was the plan.
“I thought she might need a gallop or two before coming here – she wasn’t cherry ripe today.”
A step up in class is now in the offing for Papagana, who was introduced at 33-1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Festival in March by Betfair.
Sherwood added: “The Warfield at Ascot is the obvious race for her. The dream is to go for the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham – but she has got two stone to pick up on that.
“If you have soft ground anything could happen, and you have to have a dream in this game.”
Master Tommytucker opened his account over fences on his first start since returning from injury – mastering this year’s Northumberland Plate winner Who Dares Wins by half a length in the Racing TV Beginners’ Chase.
Trainer Paul Nicholls said of the 4-1 winner: “He fell at Chepstow and fractured his knee, so he was in his box for three months, and he came back to us on August 6.
“That away day at Newbury last week helped him, and I wanted to do something with him because he hasn’t been the easiest at home to train.
“It was a warm race, and (jockey) Harry (Cobden) was very confident all the way. He just missed the second last -he was a bit novicey, but he is superb horse.”
Although Master Tommytucker will have his sights kept low on his next start, Nicholls identified a potential long -erm target back at the Sunbury course.
He added: “We will gain plenty of confidence – then in the spring he could be a good one for the Pendil back here.
“We have always thought he was very talented.”
Fergal O’Brien had nothing but praise for jockey Connor Brace, after Golden Taipan held on by three quarters of a length under a double penalty in the EBF Stallions “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
O’Brien said: “I think a fast-run two miles is probably what suits him best. He was giving a lot of weight away all round, but we took three off with Connor on.
“Connor did well, because turning in he had to sit and suffer. Once he got out, he had a very willing partner with him.”
Stan Sheppard made sure he could have had no excuses for defeat aboard the Tom Lacey-trained Flashing Glance, who claimed the Join Racing TV Now Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle by half a length.
The 3lb claimer said of the 11-4 favourite: “He got an easy lead but he just needs a decent-run two miles.
“Today I made my own speed – and I would have only lost if I got it wrong.”