Richard Johnson survived a late scare at Chepstow to bag another winner on Port Of Mars.
The champion had kicked well clear on Olly Murphy’s youngster in the Hillside Brewery Maiden Hurdle, but in the testing ground, as soon as Johnson stopped pushing his mount slowed down rapidly.
Thankfully for connections the gap he had built up was sufficient for him to hold on by a length and a half, to win at 2-1.
“He was going away and when I sat up he stopped quicker than I expected!” a relieved Johnson told Sky Sports Racing.
“It was only his second run under rules so he has a lot to learn, but he’s a nice type. He enjoyed the conditions.
“I was lucky I could see the others coming on the big screen, so I could give him a squeeze.”
Johnson’s title rival Brian Hughes bagged a double at Musselburgh to keep an enthralling title race well and truly alive, with just one it in favour of Johnson at the end of play on Friday.
Vision Des Flos got off the mark at the third time of asking over fences, beating his sole rival in the Poolman Patios And Landscaping Novices’ Chase.
Sent off a 1-4 chance to beat Venetia Williams’ Royale Pagaille in the Susannah and Rich Ricci colours, Colin Tizzard’s charge came home almost 10 lengths clear.
“When they turned into the straight the other horse looked full of running, but it changed quickly,” said Tizzard.
“It’s nice to find a two-horse race. He ran with the choke out last time and we contemplated a hood for today, but Joe (Tizzard) said to leave it off.”
Evan Williams has some nice prospects and Fado Des Brosses looks another after collaring Tizzard’s Getaway Fred in the final stride of the Barton Hill Old Boys RFC Novices’ Hurdle.
The 11-8 winner was having just his third run and clearly stays well.
Jockey Adam Wedge said: “Going to the start today he just felt bigger.
“He’s still a baby with a lot to lean, but he’s going the right way. He handled the ground well, he wouldn’t want it quick.
“I didn’t think I’d get there, but it’s such a long run-in it gave us a chance.”
Williams said: “Getting weight off the second we’d have been disappointed if he hadn’t run well. You almost have to be a graded horse to give a penalty away.”
Runasimi River (6-1) enabled 7lb amateur Millie Wonnacott another chance to showcase her talents when winning the TPS 360 Mares’ Handicap Hurdle for Neil Mulholland.