Up-and-coming jockey Andrew Glassonbury once again advertised his skills when he gave Bannow Strand a canny front-running ride to win the 32Red Online Casino Novices’ Chase at Haydock Park.
Martin Pipe’s conditional had been seen to good effect when scoring on Therealbandit for his boss at Wetherby on Boxing Day.
And he proved excellent value for his 7lb claim when he rode Bannow Strand with the strength and timing associated with some of his more experienced weighing room colleagues.
Pipe’s massive gelding had been beaten at odds-on over the minimum trip at the track in November. He was sent off the 6-4 favourite to recoup losses this time and he did so in resolute fashion.
Bannow Strand was strongly pressed over the final two fences, but Glassonbury kept him up to his work to hold the strong-finishing Supreme Serenade by one and three-quarter lengths.
Pipe, who is currently in South Africa, was represented by his travelling head lad Craig Wylie, who said: “That was a good ride from Andrew. He’s riding better all the time and that’s two good winners he’s had now.”
And of the winner, he added: “It was a good performance by the horse and he might get three miles as he battled all the way to the line there.
“The boss has just listened to the commentary over the phone and he’s happy.”
Huka Lodge relished the stamina-sapping conditions, described as soft, heavy in places, to make his first start for Kate Walton a winning one when romping home in the 32Redpoker.com Handicap Hurdle.
The grey had previously been in the care of Len Lungo and had refused at the 10th fence in a handicap chase on his previous outing in November.
But the 25-1 shot raced with plenty of enthusiasm here as he saw the near-three-mile trip out well to draw clear and land the £7,807 winner’s purse by seven lengths from Vicars Destiny.
“We’ve had him about six weeks and he’s obviously enjoyed the change of scenery,” the Middleham trainer said.
“That race was to give him confidence before he goes back over fences, but we might have to look for another hurdle for him after that performance.
“It wasn’t really a surprise because I knew the horse was well and he stays forever. It was just as case of getting him to enjoy it again after he refused last time at Hexham.”
Lord Brock jumped like an old hand when he made a winning debut over fences in the 32Red.com Novices’ Handicap Chase.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained gelding was having his first run for 294 days after he finished “jarred up” after his last start.
But his lack of a previous outing proved no bar to success as the 16-1 chance led two out under Carl Llewellyn before staying on strongly for a 10-length call over Toon Trooper.
“The secret with him is the soft ground and he certainly got it today,” said Twiston-Davies.
“He has schooled well, but we couldn’t have envisaged he’d jump as well as that against seasoned campaigners so that was an excellent performance.
“I think we might come back here with him.”
Heltornic bounced back from a heavy fall last time out to take the John Smith’s/EBF Mares’ Only “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle with a stout staying performance.
Tony Dobbin, still feeling “a bit sore” following a fall while schooling on Friday, sent the 9-4 favourite straight into the lead.
Relishing the testing conditions the Michael Scudamore-trained Heltornic galloped away from her rivals at the end of the two and three-quarter miles to score by seven lengths from Cloudless Dawn.
Afterwards the trainer’s son, Peter, said: “She just lost her confidence after a horrible fall last time so we’ve done a lot of schooling with her.
“But she’s come back and Tony has given her a lovely ride and she has put up a satisfying performance.”
Cloudy Lane was a popular winner with the crowd when the 4-1 chance, trained by Ginger McCain and owned Trevor Hemmings, got the better of Master Wells by half a length in the Red Square Vodka “Fixed Brush” Novices’ Hurdle.
But the gelding had to survive a stewards’ inquiry for possible interference after the final flight before being confirmed the victor.
Hemmings’ colours were once again to the fore when the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Albertas Run, the evens favourite, battled on for Noel Fehily to take the Sporting Index Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race. O’Neill also struck with Refinement at Sandown.
Schuh Shine (11-2) took the concluding Drink J.W. Lees Bitter Handicap Chase in game style to complete an across-the-card double for Venetia Williams, the Hereford trainer also being successful with Magico at Fontwell.