Delire D’Estruval sprang a 25-1 shock in the Paddy Power Silver Bowl Handicap Chase with what was a bittersweet victory for trainer Ben Pauling at Kempton.
After missing the cut for the Grand Annual at Cheltenham, Delire D’Estruval lined up in this extended two-and-a-half-mile event, with Daryl Jacob delivering him to challenge at the last before going on to win by half a length from Drumconnor Lad.
Pauling’s other runner Legal Eyes bravely tried to make all, but the 4-1 favourite suffered a terrible fall at the third-last fence – suffering a fatal injury.
While Jacob was pleased with the win, his first thoughts were with Pauling and Legal Eyes’ owners the OAP Syndicate.
He told Racing UK: “First of all, commiserations to Ben’s other horse Legal Eyes, and his owners. He’s been a wonderful horse – I’ve ridden him in the past, and it was horrible. You don’t like to see that.
“I think at the moment two and a half (miles) is good for (the winner). I’d like to go for the Topham at Aintree – I’d love to have a crack at that and see how we get on.”
Ollie Ayton, manager of the OAP Syndicate, paid tribute to Legal Eyes.
He tweeted: “Heartbroken. Legal Eyes had to be put down after his horror fall. He was awesome, we were so excited for the future and that was the worst end. Thanks for all fun LE. We all love the game, but sometimes it sucks.”
Elsewhere on the card, On The Slopes justified favouritism in the Paddy Power Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase as he repelled the challenge of Return Ticket to win by three and a half lengths.
Trained by Chris Gordon and ridden by Tom Cannon, On The Slopes was the 11-10 market leader on the back of a win at this track last month – but he had to dig deep to fend off Return Ticket.
That rival edged in front at one point, but he made slight mistakes at the last two fences – and On The Slopes capitalised to claim the spoils.
Gordon said: “He was balloted out of the Grand Annual, and it was tricky coming here because he’s a big boat for an easy two miles.”
Gordon also had news of stablemate Commanche Red, who disappointed when only third in the Pendil Novices’ Chase at this track last month.
He added: “He picked up an injury last time when a shoe clip went into his foot early in the race. But he’s fine now and will, all being well, go for a three-mile Grade One at Aintree.”
Fidelio Vallis impressed as he made virtually all for a comfortable victory in the Paddy Power From The Horse’s Mouth Podcast Novices’ Hurdle
Sporting the colours of owner John Hales, who enjoyed Champion Chase success with Politologue on Wednesday, Fidelio Vallis was sent off a 5-2 chance – and jockey Harry Cobden was eager to seize the initiative.
He sent a sensible pace up front and was clearly in control with three still to jump, eventually pulling three and three-quarter lengths clear of Fugitives Drift, with favourite Manvers House only third.
Winning trainer Paul Nicholls, who also handles Politologue, said: “This horse used to be very keen and still needs to learn how to settle and relax.
“He is beginning to learn, and the aim is a £100,000 novices’ handicap hurdle at Sandown which we won with Getaway Trump.
“He’ll be a very exciting novice chaser next season.”
Cobden and Nicholls also hit the mark with McFabulous in the Grade Three hurdle, but suffered disappointment as Soldier Of Love fell at the last when leading the Paddy Power 21 Sleeps To The Grand National Handicap Chase.
That tumble left the Keiran Burke-trained Everlanes to come home clear under Tom Bellamy.
Up The Straight (5-1) was soundly beaten by Supreme hero Shishkin last time out, but found the Paddy’s Rewards Club Novices’ Hurdle an easier proposition under James Davies.
Winning handler Richard Rowe said: “It was good form behind Shishkin at Huntingdon, and I was delighted with that run.
“I was torn between the EBF Final that was re-scheduled and run here, but he would have had top weight, so I decided to go for the novice hurdle under a penalty.
“He has a bright future. But he’s won me two, and I imagine that will be it for the season.”
Coquelicot (13-8 favourite) took the closing Listed European Breeders Fund Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race for Anthony Honeyball and jockey Rex Dingle.