Ben Pauling was delighted to see Doubly Clever enhance his excellent record at Newton Abbot with a decisive victory in the Old Gold Racing Handicap Hurdle – on what proved a good afternoon for favourite-backers.
The eight-year-old won three times at the Devon circuit during an initial jumping spell with Michael Blake – and added a couple of Worcester wins to his CV when trained by Johnny Farrelly in 2019.
His first run for Pauling in a Flat race at Wolverhampton in June was nothing to write home about, but he raised his game to finish second at Kempton a few days later before getting back to winning ways on his return to the jumping game at Newton Abbot last month.
Turning out less than a fortnight later, the 2-1 favourite travelled strongly into the home straight under 7lb claimer Luca Morgan and pinged the final two flights to seal a two-and-a-half-length success.
Pauling said: “I’m very pleased. We thought he was in good form at home since his last run and we were keen to go back (to Newton Abbot).
“Luca gave him a very good ride. They were queuing up behind him turning in, but he found enough to get the job done and it’s nice to win a nice prize with him.
“It was a competitive enough race and he’s proving to be a good, fun horse.
“He’s five from six at Newton Abbot now, so we might see if there’s another race for him there.”
Soldier Of Love completed a hat-trick for Paul Nicholls in the Old Gold Racing Handicap Chase, ridden by Harry Cobden.
The Yeats gelding was the even-money favourite to supplement July wins at Bangor and over this course and distance – and while For Good Measure briefly looked a big threat between the final two fences, Soldier Of Love swept him aside from the last to win comfortably.
The Alex Hales-trained Hiconic made it four from four over obstacles in the oldgoldracing.com Get Your Heart Racing Juvenile Hurdle.
The daughter of Sixties Icon ultimately had little trouble in landing odds of 8-11 under conditional jockey Bryan Carver.
“Bless her, she’s a superstar,” said Hales.
“They’re probably not the most competitive races in the world that she’s been winning, but she’s still won with a triple penalty today, albeit we took 5lb off with Bryan riding.
“I’m not sure what we’ll do now. We can’t run in an ordinary juvenile hurdle as they’re restricted to horses who have won three or less, so we’ll either go down the handicap route, where she’ll get quite a hefty weight-for-age allowance, or give her a break and wait for the better juvenile races later in the year.
“I suppose an obvious target would be the Wensleydale Juvenile Hurdle at Wetherby – Maria Magdalena was second in that for us last year – and after that she could go for that Listed fillies’ hurdle at Aintree.”
Fergal O’Brien claimed a double, with Max Kendrick steering 1-2 favourite Templepark to victory in the oldgoldracing.com Novices’ Hurdle and Cheltenam De Vaige (4-1 favourite) landing the oldgoldracing.com Thrill Of Ownership Novices’ Handicap Chase under Paddy Brennan.
There was a thrilling climax to the oldgoldracing.com Thrill Of Ownership Handicap Hurdle, with 5-4 market leader Pagero outpointing Hallings Comet by a short head for the father-son combination of Jonjo O’Neill senior and junior.
Evan Williams and Adam Wedge teamed up to land the Own A Share With oldgoldracing.com Handicap Chase with top-weight and 7-4 favourite Peterborough, while there was at least some relief for bookmakers in the concluding bumper, which went to Peter and James Bowen thanks to 100-30 chance Courtland ahead of 6-4 favourite Ultimate Getaway.