Slate House returned to form with a victory that suggested the best is yet to come as he slammed his rivals in the Matchbook Best Value Betting Exchange Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.
Having struggled over fences last season, the Colin Tizzard-trained seven-year-old looked to be back to something close to his best – running out an emphatic 11-length winner of the two-and-a-half-mile contest.
Tizzard said of the 3-1 winner: “We were late getting him back in last year, and we have done his wind. He has had the right preparation and has not been rushed – and he has shown it. ”
Slate House banished any worries about handling Saturday’s heavy ground, leaving Tizzard with plenty of options for the rest of the season.
The trainer added: “Because he is by Presenting, (we weren’t sure) whether he would handle the soft – but he is a big, strong horse and looked everything we would hope he would.
“Where we go next is anyone’s guess. We wanted to win a novice, because he had run in novices last season, so he had the experience under his belt.
“We will see what the handicapper does as to whether we go handicapping or stick to the novice route.”
Tobefair (8-1) may have his sights raised after starting the new campaign as he ended the previous one when getting the better of a gruelling battle with Sunset Showdown to win by half a length in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.
Winning trainer Debra Hamer said: “We are very humble to have him in our yard. I don’t think we have ever got to the bottom of him.
“That is gruelling out there- carrying top weight up the Cheltenham hill – but he is such a big horse, so I’ve never worried about the weight on him.
“We will go back home, keep our feet on the ground and see what races come up – but he is some horse.”
Ramses De Teillee set up a shot at some big targets back over fences, by claiming a four-and-a-half-length victory in the Randox Health Novices’ Hurdle.
Trainer David Pipe said of the 8-11 winner: “It was a prep run today, before going over the bigger obstacles.
“We wanted to make use of his novice status over hurdles at some point, and I’m sure he will run over hurdles again this season.
“Races like the Welsh National, Becher Chase and the three-mile-three handicap here at the next meeting are for him.”