Nube Negra set up a return to Grade One company in maintaining his unbeaten record over fences with a flawless performance in the Greene King IPA Novices’ Chase at Fakenham.
A winner on his chasing debut at Warwick earlier this month, the Dan Skelton-trained five-year-old put in another foot-perfect display in the extended two-mile prize to defeat Encore Champs by an eased-down 10 lengths.
Skelton said of the 2-5 winner: “I was really happy with that. The reason why I went to Fakenham is the only other races were back at Warwick and as he has been round there I was keen to give him a bit of a different experience.
“We will keep him away from the November meeting at Cheltenham and will get him fresh for the Henry VIII at Sandown.
“If the ground comes up really soft at Sandown we will look at the Wayward Lad at Kempton over Christmas.
“The tempo of the races over hurdles was a bit quicker than he ideally wanted, but now he is in his comfort zone jumping a fence.”
The winner was introduced at 25-1 for the Arkle by Coral, while Betfair went 50-1 for the same race.
With Wayne Hutchinson announcing his retirement earlier this week, Tom Cannon can expect more opportunities from Alan King and Midnights’ Gift (6-5) provided them with a winner in the Breeders’ Cup Live On SkySports Racing Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle.
Cannon said: “I missed the last, which didn’t help, but she stuck her neck out nicely. They got racing before two out, but she picked up all the way to the line.
“Wayne has not ridden for most of the summer and has been off the last few weeks, so I’ve half-filled the breach a little bit on a temporary basis and hopefully I can make it more permanent now.”
Laura Morgan looks on course to eclipse her best seasonal total of 10 winners after Thomas Todd (9-2) claimed a front-running success on his first start in 267 days in the David Hall Has Finally Retired Handicap Chase.
Morgan said: “That’s our sixth winner of the season. We have got some nice young horses for the season and it is probably the strongest team we’ve had.”
On the 9-2 winner, she added: “We know he goes well fresh, but Ryan (Day) gave him an incredible ride and made it look easy. Before the last though my heart was in my mouth.”
There was to be no odds-on defeat for a second race in succession for Falco Blitz after the Nicky Henderson-trained five-year-old claimed a six-length victory in the Foulsham Primary School, Racing To School “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle.
Rider Nico de Boinville said of the 4-5 scorer: “Last time at Newton Abbot we were disappointed he got beat there, but that horse has won another couple.
“Hopefully he will keep progressing and will make a chaser in time.”
Paul Webber could have a smart individual on his hands in the shape of Litigate (16-1), who prevailed by half length in the Hempton Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
Webber said: “He is a half-brother to Indefatigable who runs in a Listed mares’ race at Wetherby on Saturday. I think he will have one more run and if that works out we will keep him for a spring bumper campaign.”