Two For Gold marked himself as a serious staying prospect when producing a game display to land the McCoy Contractors 2020 Construction News-Awards Finalist Hampton Court Novices’ Chase at Warwick.
Successful at Carlisle and Kelso on his first two starts over fences, the Kim Bailey-trained seven-year-old had to work hard complete the hat-trick.
Jumping into the lead at the 13th fence under David Bass, Two For Gold (3-1) was headed at the second last by Hold The Note but rallied on the run-in to get back up and win by half a length.
Bailey said: “He’s always been very tough and he’s a fantastic jumper, but I just thought he’s not that quick.
“I’m absolutely thrilled because the owners have been with me a long time. They had The Rainbow Hunter who ran in the Grand National. Dermot Clancy was one of the main people and unfortunately he died before Christmas.
“I’d like to see how he comes out of the race. He’ll stay further. There’s a decent handicap chase in him and a decent novice chase in him. The owners would love to go to Cheltenham with him, but I’m not going to mention that yet.”
Paddy Power gave Two For Gold quotes of 25-1 for the RSA Chase and 12-1 for the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Joke Dancer (100-30) had the last laugh when capitalising on a last-fence mistake by Rough Night to take the Project Management Services Oxford Ltd Edward Courage Cup Handicap Chase.
Jockey Danny Cook seized on the blunder to send Sue Smith’s seven-year-old on to score by eight lengths from the long-time leader.
Cook said: “He was coming underneath me going to the last, but I wasn’t bothered and when we jumped the last I opened him up and I was surprised how well he picked up.
“He’s won over two miles and he’s a three-miler in time. He’s going the right way and is getting his confidence.
“I was pleased with his jumping today. He was good.”
Megalodon (14-1) finally came good on his fourth start following wind surgery with a narrow success in the Join Racing TV Now Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.
Paul Henderson revealed the seven-year-old needed his first two comeback races and had a bad back on his third, but showed his true colours as he held Twycross Warrior by a neck in the hands of Paddy Brennan.
“He’s a difficult horse to get fit because he does everything so easily. He had a wind operation, after which he had eight weeks just trotting down the road and all of a sudden he was miles behind the other horses,” said Henderson.
“It’s taken time for us to get to know him, but we think we’ve got the key to him now doing much stronger work.
“If I can get him into a 0-100 it would be ideal. Hopefully he should progress. Last time out at Sandown we found he had a bad back after needing his first two races.”
Silver Sheen rallied in grand fashion to win the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier) for Irish trainer Jessica Harrington and jockey Robbie Power.
Nothing had gone right for Power in the earlier races, but it all came right as Silver Sheen (7-1) edged past Doc Penfro close home to snatch the verdict by a neck.
“It all came good there thankfully. It was a great performance on only his fifth ever start over hurdles,” said Power.
“He’s a horse with not a lot of experience, but he is tenacious.
“From the fourth last they got racing. They thought that was pretty soon enough and I had to give him a chance as he took a false step as well. I had to grab a fresh hold and it probably won him the race.
“There’s a lot to look forward to for the rest of the season. He’s qualified now for the final. He’ll have to go up a few pounds, but if he sneaks it at the bottom, he would be interesting.”
The card’s main sponsors McCoy Contractors had a fairytale end to the day when Here Comes McCoy, trained by Olly Murphy, made a winning debut in the Cheltenham And South West Syndicate ‘Newcomers’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race under Aidan Coleman.
Murphy’s mum Annabel, said: “What an end to the day. The owners are the sponsors of the whole day, so it’s amazing.”