Floressa put in a near foot-perfect round of jumping to get her career back on track in the Ladbrokes “Where The Nation Plays” Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury.
Having gone down by a short head to Silver Forever at the course earlier this month, the Nicky Henderson-trained four-year-old exacted revenge on her last-time-out conqueror to claim Listed honours and add to her debut victory over hurdles at Worcester.
Jumping slickly throughout the extended two-mile prize, the 10-11 favourite moved through the gears smartly late on to defeat Gavin Cromwell’s Irish raider Jeremys Flame by a length and a half, with another four and a half lengths back to Silver Forever.
Henderson said: “I was worried they had a hard enough race the last day, but both have come back with the same intention. Paul Nicholls’ mare got herself a 3lb penalty and that’s where they’ve run to.
“She is a lovely looking mare. She will jump anything you want her to. She is slick. Even from that first day at Worcester, she was like an arrow.
“She will have a break now, as she has had three quite quick races. We will work back from the Cheltenham (Festival) mares’ novice race.”
Bennys King (10-1) gained compensation for missing the cut in the Ladbrokes Trophy with a decisive victory in the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase.
Taking a big step forward from his seasonal return at Stratford, the Dan Skelton-trained eight-year-old was faced with a late challenge from Sametegal over the final two fences, but galloped all the way to the line to claim victory by six lengths.
Skelton said: “We were a bit disappointed not to get into the Ladbrokes Trophy as he missed the cut by one and was first reserve, but we were in a race we wanted to be in and he has won.
“It is a great race to be in and winning on big days is important.
“He got a bit progressive last season, we didn’t over-race him and it will be the same this season. We will look after him a bit.”
The Cashel Man (9-1) ran his rivals into submission in the Get Your Ladbrokes £1 Free Bet Today Handicap Hurdle, to give Henderson a double.
After finishing second on his first three starts over hurdles, the seven-year-old built on victory at Ffos Las with a 10-length triumph under a well-judged ride by Jeremiah McGrath.
McGrath said: “He is a bit quirky, but he is good on a going day. He is very talented and the main thing is they campaign him very well.
“He is a bit of a thinker and at Kempton he tried to plant himself at the start, but if they are talented you don’t question it.”
Epatante led home a one-two-three to give Henderson a third winner on the card in the Ladbrokes ‘Where the Nation Plays’ Intermediate Hurdle.
Aidan Coleman brought the 3-1 favourite through to challenge from three out, after Torcello and Storm Goddess had set the pace.
Stablemate French Crusader hit the front and looked to be going equally as well, but Epatante soon got on top and pulled away to score by six lengths. Elusive Belle completed the trio for the Seven Barrows stable, four lengths away in third place.
Henderson said: “That was all good. She was impressive, but the second horse is no mug and nor is the third.
“Epatante seems have been favourite all week, but I fancied Elusive Belle funnily enough. She quickened up very well, but Epatante has got some toe.”
There was a thrilling finish to the finale, the Ladbrokes Handicap Chase, with Magic Saint just getting the better of Bun Doran following an epic duel on the run-in.
Bun Doran kicked on from two out but was joined after jumping the last by Magic Saint.
The pair scrapped it out, with the Paul Nicholls-trained 3-1 favourite just getting the verdict by a head. Chesterfield was eight lengths away in third place.
“He’s a good horse. He’s only five and has taken a little time to come to himself,” Nicholls said.
“We’ll just mind him and he’ll win plenty of races. He’s a good jumper of his fences and a fast-run race suits him well.”