Daryl Jacob praised the attitude of Zambella, who maintained her unbeaten record over fences with a front-running success in the feature Wigley Group Lady Godiva Mares’ Novices’ Chase at Warwick.
Having made a winning chasing debut in a Listed contest at Bangor last time out, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained five-year-old followed up at the same level on her first start over two and a half miles.
Although jumping out to the right on occasion, the 9-4 favourite rallied gamely before finding plenty for pressure to defeat Midnightreferendum by three and three-quarter lengths.
Jacob said: “Zambella is a good jumper, but just occasionally lacks a bit of concentration at times in her races.
“It was good performance stepping up in trip and giving weight away, as it is not easy as there were some good mares in the race.
“I thought she ground it out nicely up the home straight.
“She’s getting a bit older and wiser – hopefully she’ll be a nice mare who we can place in the right races through the season and pick up some nice prize money.
Former jockey, and new mum, Lizzie Kelly celebrated her first winner since quitting the saddle in July after Hamilton Dici landed the Wigley Group Merry Christmas Juvenile Hurdle.
The Jane Williams-trained four-year-old, sporting the silks of Kelly and her husband Ed Partridge’s Valentine Bloodstock Racing outfit, made all to deny Ambassador by a head.
Chester Williams, rider, said of the 11-2 winner: “It was a learning experience for him, but he did it well and is a first winner for Lizzie and Ed’s Valentine Bloodstock
“I’m really pleased for them as it is just the sort of horse you need to get started.
“He was still green enough there, but he picked up very well when the other horse came to him and that helped him after the last.”
Jay Bee Why left trainer Alan King pleasantly surprised after pulling clear in stylish fashion to claim the Wigley Group Support Our SMEs Maiden Hurdle by nine and a half lengths.
King said: “It is a bit of a surprise because I only thought he was just ready. I thought he was very good last season, but he completely boiled over before and during the bumper at Newbury.
“We tidied up his wind this season and I put a hood on him in the preliminaries today and he was good.
“I just hoped he would run a nice race and run properly today, but he looked quite useful.”
Dan Skelton has introduced a number of useful recruits to fences this season, and King d’Argent looked another judged on his three-length success in the Wigley Building & Development Novices’ Handicap Chase.
Skelton said of the 11-4 favourite: “To be fair, he was quite a good juvenile and he was fourth in the Fred Winter two years ago.
“He has blossomed since he started schooling over fences and I’m just delighted with the way he has attacked them and he really liked that.
“How high we can go, I don’t know, but that is a good start.”
Lorcan Murtagh partnered his first winner since joining forces with trainer Harry Fry after Might I (16-1) struck gold by a length and a quarter in the Wigley Group Daimler Powerhouse Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
The winning rider, who was previously based with Donald McCain, said: “He gave me a lovely feel. I got there a mile too soon, but there was nothing taking me into the race.
“I’ve been with Harry for two months now and that is my first winner for him, so it is nice to get that monkey off my back.”
Victory for Might I completed an across-the-card double for Fry, who was also on the mark at Taunton with Boothill.