Ok Corral returned to winning ways when coming out on top in a thrilling battle with Fingerontheswitch in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.
Having looked a smart novice in the early part of last season, he went to the Cheltenham Festival with high hopes but suffered a troubled passage there and had cut little ice in two runs this season to date.
Nicky Henderson called Derek O’Connor, one of Ireland’s leading amateurs, over to ride him again as he had partnered JP McManus’ charge to victory at Warwick last season and the move paid off.
However, O’Connor lost his whip in the closing stages and fellow amateur Millie Wonnacott, on Fingerontheswitch, had given her mount the perfect ride to find herself upsides.
The two became involved in a terrific tussle, with O’Connor using his hand to encourage Ok Corral, and his mount responded to win by half a length at 9-1.
The pair pulled 14 lengths clear of the third, Chidswell, with Ravenhill Road fourth.
O’Connor said: “The whip can be over-rated at times. When you have a willing partner it’s half the battle and he strode out all the way to the line.
“He loves a fast, speedy track like Warwick and Doncaster and he could be an Aintree horse possibly.
“I’ve ridden here just the once before in a bumper, but I work for Goffs UK and I spend a lot of time on the track. I’ve jogged round more times than a lot of horses have raced here.
“I was lucky enough to ride this horse in Warwick. I got the call up again. There are no future plans, it’s just that I got on so well with him last year, thankfully I got the ride back on him today.
“It’s a lot to do with Aidan (Coleman) and Barry (Geraghty) as well.
“To be considered in the line-up for a JP McManus horse and a Nicky Henderson horse is a huge honour.”
Henderson has no plans in mind for OK Corral, but was thrilled to see him return to winning form.
He said: “It was great to see him back as he has not been that lucky so far this season, but he is back on track now.
“He over raced in the Ladbrokes Trophy and he probably didn’t get the trip. We went to Cheltenham over two-mile-five which I thought was a good idea, but he made a mistake coming up the hill and that knocked him out of the race. He has done nothing wrong.
“Everybody was riding everywhere so I rang JP and Frank Berry (racing manager) and said ‘I know the man I want as he gave him great ride at Warwick last year and they were poetry’. I said ‘can I get Derek O’Connor back’, they agreed and he said he’d be there.
“It was a good weight-carrying performance, but I don’t know where that takes us. He is an old horse with very little racing. He had so many problems as a young horse and he didn’t go chasing until eight.
“I’ll talk to everybody and discuss what to put him in.”
After her ride on Fingerontheswitch, Wonnacott said: “I was pleased with him, he just jumped his way to the front too soon.
“He can be a bit of a monkey sometimes when he’s out on his own in front, but he ran an absolute blinder.”