Just a week ago, the Irishman announced he was leaving his position as stable jockey to Nigel Twiston-Davies, insisting there was no acrimony as he made way for the trainer’s two flourishing sons Sam and Willie.
He expects to still be part of Twiston-Davies’ set-up but succour has been provided by Tom George, trainer of Nacarat as well as Zanir, winner of a valuable handicap hurdle at Auteuil in Paris on Wednesday.
Success in Liverpool has been overdue for Nacarat, who thrives on a quick, flat track, and it came at the expense of this year’s Gold Cup runner-up Denman (5-4 favourite), a pale imitation of his usual self as he laboured home fifth of the six starters.
“I’ve still got the backing of Nigel, who has been a great supporter to me, and it just happens Nigel has two wonderful lads riding for him,” said Brennan.
“But I’m going to go out there and ride winners.
“It’s a wonderful new challenge for me but I’m willing to give it a go. I’ve cleared the air and come out as a freelance jockey and I already feel like I’m riding better. This was the right decision for me.”
Nacarat (7-2) was third to What A Friend 12 months ago and filled the same position behind Voy Por Ustedes in the Melling Chase of 2009, but he has not been an easy horse for George to prepare.
The Gloucestershire trainer decided to keep the grey away from his local meeting in Cheltenham and instead sent him to defend the Racing Post Chase at Kempton, where he was a valiant third under a huge weight.
Back in open competition, he rarely looked troubled as he kept Carole’s Legacy at bay by six lengths.
“A lot of hard work has gone into this horse from the vets, physio and the people at home but his work had been exceptional recently,” said George.
“He hadn’t run well at Cheltenham on two occasions and I’ve no reason to think he wouldn’t act there, but we didn’t want to do anything that might ruin our chances of coming here.”
Ruby Walsh never appeared happy on the public’s favourite Denman, needing to urge him along sporadically, and Nicholls confirmed as much later.
“He didn’t act on the track, which we half suspected, so Ruby looked after him,” Nicholls said.
“There was nowhere else to go until November and Paul Barber likes to run them. I could see when he came around the bend after the line first time round that he wasn’t enjoying it.
“I suppose we knew that beforehand and all the experts will say that, but he’s come back safe and sound and that’s the main thing.
“He’ll have a nice holiday now. In a lot of ways it might be quite hard to run in the Hennessy with top weight. Leopardstown might be an option and a nice race to run in might be the Lexus.”