Goa Lil moved a step closer to being part of Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Cheltenham Festival team with a front-running success in the Read Nicky Henderson’s Unibet Blog Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton.
The Simon Munir and Isaac Soude-owned four-year-old built on his fourth at the track last time out to gain his first win in Britain when holding Lord Lamington at bay by two lengths.
Anthony Bromley, racing manager to the owners, said: “He raced too freely in his first run at Sandown. Daryl (Jacob) said put ear plugs and a hood on him.
“Daryl was out over Christmas, but Sam gave him a lovely ride the last day and he learnt a lot on his second run.
“When no one wanted to make the running today, he was more tractable and though he took a hold, he was able to go from the front. He jumps nicely and we always hoped he might progress.
“I don’t think he is a Triumph Hurdle type, but he might be a Festival horse for the Fred Winter. We might bring him back here for the Adonis as he has had two runs here now.”
David Maxwell celebrated one of the easiest winners he is likely to partner as Saint Xavier continued his preparations for a potential tilt at the Grand National with a 36-length success in the 32Red.com Novices’ Hurdle.
Maxwell said of the 8-15 winner: “He was a proper horse in France and was rated 150. He was just too free at Cheltenham and didn’t get home.
“The National was the plan. He wants a trip and is a good jumper. He will definitely have an entry – hopefully Paul will remember!”
Lizzie Kelly thanked her half-brother Chester Williams as Erick Le Rouge (7-2) got his career back on track over fences after prevailing by three-quarters of a length in the Unibet Download The App Handicap Chase.
Kelly said: “Chester got off him today as he wanted me on him, so thanks to him for that.
“It was the first time I had ridden him since he was a juvenile and he was a bit different today. I schooled him in the week and we got on really well.
“Coming past the stands I said ‘it’s time to go’ and he needed a couple of reminders, but he kept at it and where other horses get racing early and don’t get home, he can finish.”
Never Adapt showed she retains plenty of talent despite not being the easiest of rides after claiming the Download 32Red Casino App Handicap Hurdle by three and a quarter lengths to complete a double for trainer Nicky Henderson, who also struck with Burrows Edge in the Lanzarote Hurdle.
The Seven Barrows handler said of the 5-4 winner: “The boys have done brilliantly with her at home because she can pull. She must hold the track record for a mile at Cheltenham.
“Even there again, she was still too keen and we have got to teach her to do it (settle) and that is why you have got to drop her in like that.
“Another race like that will do her the world of good.”