Kim Bailey was delighted to see First Flow get back on the winning trail with a fine front-running display at Leicester.
Three successive wins during the 2017-18 campaign earned the eight-year-old at tilt at the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but he was pulled up at Cheltenham and did not run again for almost a year.
This term First Flow has had his attentions switched to jumping fences – filling the runner-up spots on his first couple of starts behind Summerville Boy and Angels Breath before bolting up at Hereford and being placed in a couple of decent handicaps, most recently at Sandown.
With less on his plate, Bailey’s charge was a prohibitively priced 8-11 favourite for the Pytchley Chase – and having jumped well in the main under David Bass, he pulled clear to score by 17 lengths from Albert’s Back.
Bailey said: “I’m delighted for the horse and delighted for his owner, Tony Solomons. He’s my longest-serving owner, having had a horse with me every year since I started training apart from the first year.
“He also owned Harry Topper, and this is quite a similar horse – he’d run through a brick wall for you.
“He loves soft or heavy ground and has a preference for going right-handed, so there weren’t many options for him.
“He’s not entered at Cheltenham, so he won’t be going there. It’s only 12 days since he ran at Sandown, so he’s probably entitled to a bit of a break, but we’ll see how he is and make a plan from there.”
Caltex was even more dominant on his first start for Michael Scudamore in the Join RacingTV Now Handicap Chase.
Previously trained by Gordon Elliott, Henry Oliver and Claire Dyson, the 9-4 favourite was in front for much of the two-and-three-quarter-mile contest in the hands of Brendan Powell and passed the post 22 lengths clear of Clondaw Westie.
“He did it really well, but I suppose he was entitled to on some of his old form,” said Scudamore.
“He’s only been with us three or four weeks and I’m delighted for the owner (Mark Dunphy), who is a fairly new to our yard. I think he’s sent us eight horses, which is a good number for a fairly small yard like ours, so it’s nice to repay that faith with a winner.
“This horse is entered at Carlisle next Monday. He wouldn’t be the sort of horse you’d turn out so quickly as he’s fairly light-framed, but we’ll see how he is and what the handicapper is going to do.”
Title-chasing Brian Hughes teamed up with Venetia Williams to land the Wren Mares’ Handicap Chase with Quick Wave, but it was not entirely straightforward.
The 13-8 chance almost refused at the fifth fence when in the lead, which dropped her from first to the rear of the three-runner field.
However, Hughes managed to get her back on an even keel and she was ultimately well on top at the finish – with eight lengths separating her and 5-4 favourite Everlanes.
The Cream Gorse Handicap Chase went to the father-daughter combination of Jimmy and Bryony Frost with 28-1 shot This Breac.