Gumball was an impressive winner of the Kalahari King Beginners’ Chase at Uttoxeter.
Philip Hobbs’ often exuberant grey put his experience to good use, sitting closest in behind the strong pace set by favourite King Roland, before taking over at the second last and surging clear to win by six lengths under Tom O’Brien.
The 3-1 shot was scoring over fences at the second attempt, having finished a well-beaten third over course and distance behind Fusil Raffles – who was a classy winner at Cheltenham last week.
Gumball, who races in the Terry Warner colours made famous by fellow grey and 2003 Champion Hurdle winner Rooster Booster among others, was also further demonstrating his versatility – adding a first victory over fences to his four over hurdles and three on the Flat.
“Obviously Harry Fry’s horse (King Roland) was very keen, and Gumball was relaxed and jumping,” O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing.
“So I let him go his own pace really.”
That patience was rewarded with an emphatic success as outsider Ubetya stayed on in the straight to finish second, three-quarters of a length in front of King Roland.
O’Brien reported that Richard Johnson, who rode Gumball on his first start of the season in late September, was confident of improvement.
“He said he needed the run the last day, and the ground was quite quick then as well,” the winning jockey added.
“It was no bad run being placed behind Nicky Henderson’s horse, who came out and won at Cheltenham.
“Things were spot on today. He’s been a good horse – and as he showed there, there is more to come.”
O’Brien completed a double when Henry Daly’s joint top-weight Black Tulip led almost throughout to win the following Robert Baskerville Memorial Mares’ Handicap Chase by six and a half lengths as the 5-2 favourite.
There were also two winners on the card for the combination of in-form trainer Jennie Candlish, jockey Sean Quinlan and owners the Clarke family.
Ulverston, their representative in division one of Sky Sports Racing HD Virgin 535 Novices’ Hurdle, was a hard-fought half-length winner at 15-2 – just mastering 80-1 shot Top Drawer on the run-in.
Crack Du Ninian then led three out en route to an emphatic four-length success as 9-2 joint-favourite in the Free Tips Daily On attheraces.com Handicap Hurdle, completing the double for Candlish’s Staffordshire yard at her local track.