Retired trainer Nick Gaselee was back in the winner’s enclosure after The Local proved a star turn at a wet and windy Wincanton.
The five-year-old was trained by Gaselee up until his retirement last year but the former handler was at the track representing current trainer Charles Egerton as The Local strolled to victory in the Weatherbys Support The Injured Jockeys Fund Handicap Hurdle event.
HRH the Princess Royal, making her first visit to the track as a guest of the IJF, was on hand to present Gaselee with the trophy after the 6-1 shot to recorded a three-length win over Bishop’s Bridge.
“He’s done it very well,” said Gaselee, who still rides out at Oliver Sherwood’s yard.
“I bought the horse at Ascot and I trained him. He won for me as a three-year-old at Plumpton. I think at some stage he will go over fences and he jumps well. He’d be a nice two-mile novice chaser.”
Favourite backers had their fingers burned in the Guinness Beginners’ Chase as 11-1 shot Preacher Boy sprung a minor surprise.
The Paul Nicholls-trained Made In Montot had been sent off the 10-11 favourite but he faded badly to leave Preacher Boy to come home unchallenged under Jim Crowley.
Trainer Ron Hodges believes the six-year-old has a bright future and is now planning to step him up in distance.
“All he does is gallop and jump. He’s a nice horse, but won’t be seen over this trip again, because he needs further than this. I think he needs at least three miles-plus,” he said.
Nicholls gained some compensation when he notched a near 12-1 double courtesy of Comanche War Paint and Twist Magic.
Promising 7lb claimer Liam Heard guided 15-8 favourite Comanche War Paint to a five-length win over Dante Citizen in the Weatherbys Bank Silver Buck Handicap Chase, but the eight-yea-old nearly missed the race altogether.
“You don’t know how close I was to pulling him out,” Nicholls explained.
“He’s never won in soft ground before, but I thought it was just about loose and sloppy enough to let him take his chance and he stays four miles.
“That was the deciding factor in the end, but Liam’s claim has obviously helped and he’s given him a very good ride.”
Three-year-old Twist Magic made up for an unexpected defeat at Wetherby with a decisive nine-length victory over Pace Shot in the AJC Caterers Juvenile Novices’ Novices Hurdle under Christian Williams.
“I just don’t know what went wrong last time,” said Nicholls. “I couldn’t have him being beaten at Wetherby, but I can’t explain why he was beaten.
“We won’t go too high with him, because he’s a chaser in the making and he just needs a bit of time to fill his frame.”
Thedreamstillalive overcame a 298-day absence to take the John Meaden ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle by seven lengths under Jason Maguire.
“We paid £40,000 (€59,000) for him at the Doncaster sales and to be honest, he was disappointing last year and though he didn’t show any outward signs, he had a serious breathing problem, which we operated on. It seems to have helped,” said winning trainer Jim Old.
“He will stay over hurdles for now, but he jumps a fence beautifully.”
The judge could not split Eggmount (9-4 favourite) and Taksina (16-1) as they dead-heated after a thrilling finish to the Andrew Hopkins Concrete Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase.