Colin Tizzard was happy to continue the festive celebrations as Christmas In April made most of the running to win the Sky Sports Racing Sussex National Handicap Chase at Plumpton.
Tizzard – who landed the Tolworth Hurdle 24 hours earlier with Fiddlerontheroof – picked up the eight-year-old out of Nicky Henderson’s yard but only managed his first win for new connections at the seventh time of asking last time out.
Put up just 3lb by the handicapper for that, he was up in grade but jumped for fun under Harry Cobden and was still on the bridle approaching the second-last.
Clearly relishing the three and a half miles, he was able to quicken up when Uallrightharry emerged to challenge in the straight and the 9-2 chance won by a length and three-quarters, with the veteran Rathlin Rose in third.
Cobden said: “He jumped fantastic. I was filling him up everywhere I could and he’s done it really well.
“I wanted to get a good start, but he jumped so well I was in front two circuits too soon – he was enjoying it though and using no energy because of how he jumped, so I let him stay there.
“I nicked a couple of lengths at the last two down the back and it’s hard to make ground up coming downhill – almost as hard as going uphill.
“Cheekpieces have helped a fair bit and physically he looked brilliant today.
“It’s my first National. Shame it’s not the Grand National, but I’ll take the Sussex!”
Tizzard told Sky Sports Racing: “The last two runs, since the cheekpieces, he’s looked better than ever.
“He jumped great and had plenty left when the challengers came. We had easier options, but held our nerve to go for this.
“One day he might make a Grand National horse, but he’ll need to go up another 20lb to get in that.”
Chris Gordon’s Highway One O Two looks to have a bright future and followed up a win at the track last month in good style in the Sky Sports Racing On Sky 415 Novices’ Hurdle.
Sent off the 8-11 favourite, he set a stiff gallop throughout under Leighton Aspell and still had plenty left in the straight, coming home 11 lengths clear of Morning Spirit.
“The loose horse just set him alight, and he is a horse that can be very, very keen, but the great thing was that he struggled to pull up afterwards and is a really exciting horse for us,” said Gordon.
“To win a novice with a penalty is great. He’s possibly a graded horse, but we’ll see – I don’t like jumping in too far into the deep end.
“I’ll probably try to find an easy option for him, but we’ll see, it’s difficult as obviously you have a double penalty in novices.
“We’ll just have to see how we go.”
Who Dares Wins was sent off the 2-7 favourite for the Follow At The Races On Twitter Novices’ Chase after a promising chasing debut, but he could not reel in De Plotting Shed in an incident-packed contest.
The 16-1 winner, now with Suzy Best after leaving Gordon Elliott, possibly benefited from the fall of Gary Moore’s Not Never four from home, which slightly hampered the market leader, who had earlier ploughed through the ditch on the first circuit.
Tom Scudamore rode the winner and said: “His jumping was superb today, and he’s been a great servant to different yards over the years.”
Paul Nicholls registered his 50th winner of the season when Cat Tiger (11-8 favourite) won the Visit attheraces.com/jumps EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle under owner/rider David Maxwell.
“I really bought him as a hunter chaser, but the time he won at Auteuil ruined hunter chasing for a season, so we’ve just go to spend a bit of time against the pros until we get to do the proper job, which is the Cheltenham or Aintree foxhunters’,” said Maxwell.
The concluding Watch Today’s Race Replays On attheraces.com Handicap Hurdle went the way of the Harry Fry-trained Lightly Squeeze (8-11 favourite), who was winning for the third time in the space of just over a week – the last two of those wins coming under red-hot conditional Bryan Carver.