Ferdy Murphy and Graham Lee stole the show at Ayr with a 20-1 treble highlighted by Marshall Hall, who completed a hat-trick in impressive fashion in the Guinness Handicap Chase and set himself up for a trip to the Punchestown Festival in the process.
Dropped back to two miles on the advice of Lee, Marshall Hall opened his scoring at Catterick and doubled up over today’s course and distance eight days ago.
He had been raised 22lb in the ratings as a result, but that did not halt his progress and he was always travelling and jumping well for Lee. He took the lead four out and eased away to beat Brave Thought by 14 lengths.
Murphy trains the 4-7 favourite for Dermot O’Rourke’s Plantation Stud and said: “There is no such thing as a certainty in the jumping game, but he is a nice horse, I thought we may have come a bit quick with him after his last run but he has done it well.
“I will give him a couple of weeks out in the field and freshen him up and then we will go for a two mile handicap chase on the first day of the Punchestown Festival, it is a good money race.”
Murphy and Lee doubled up with Clemax (7-2) in the Dalziel Conservatories Novices’ Handicap Hurdle after which the West Witton trainer went on: “Graham said this horse will win a good staying chase one day.”
Their treble was completed by Delray Beach (2-1f) in the KingDrymix Handicap Chase (for the John Brown Memorial Trophy) and Murphy added: “It is great that the horses are in good form ahead of the Festival.
“We will have 10 or 12 runners down there, depending on what gets in, and I think it is our best team ever with the likes of New Alco, Aces Four, Another Promise and Ivoire de Beaulieu in it.”
The stable’s Haut De Gamme was retired after finishing last of four in the Lloyds TSB Scotland Handicap Chase and Murphy explained: “Graham said the old horse was not really firing so we have decided to call it a day with him.
“He has been a good servant to us, he won three for us after coming over from France (where he won eight times) and he finished second in the 2005 Topham at Aintree.”
Richard McGrath gained his fourth success of the two-day meeting and Jim Goldie his third when Endless Power (3-1 joint-favourite) came out best in the horseracingbreaks.com Handicap Hurdle (for the Ayrshire Yoemanry Cup).
And the win brought memories flooding back for Goldie who recalled: “I won this race as an amateur jockey on Playful Lady back in 1973!”
Paddy Brennan made the most of his only ride of the day when he partnered the Peter Monteith-trained well-backed 5-4 favourite Nelson Du Ronceray to an easy four-length victory in the Lloyds TSB For The Journey Novices’ Hurdle.
Monteith, who also saddled fourth placed Rossin Gold and Millie The Lilly who finished last, trains Nelson Du Ronceray for David Johnson and said: “If you saw the horse in the parade ring you wouldn’t buy him, he is like Charlie Chaplin (because his feet turn out)!
“He is a half-brother to Gloria Victis and he won here last week for us, but we have been lucky to find two soft races.”
First season trainer George Charlton saddled his first winner over fences when Snowy (9-2) took the Lloyds TSB Scotland Handicap Chase (for the Hambleton Campbell Trophy) in the hands of Jan Faltejsek.
Snowy is owned by Ray and Anita Green and Charlton said: “A tongue tie has made all the difference to Snowy, he has now worn one twice and won twice (on the first occasion when his father Alistair still held the licence).
“These horses of mine are flying at the moment, I have had three winners from nine runners.
“I will put Bywell Beau, who has won twice for me, in both the novice hurdles at Cheltenham and see what the ground is like before we decide which one to run him in.”
Ray and Anita Green completed a double when Berwick Law (4-6f), Len Lungo’s only runner of the day, ran away with the bumper.
Lungo said: “We will keep him going and if the ground is good to soft or softer we will run him in the bumper at the Scottish National meeting – if it is good to firm we will put him away for the summer.”