East Tycoon received a warm welcome from the Stratford crowd after collecting his fourth course victory in the totesport.com Handicap Chase on Sunday.
A capable sort on his day who was sixth in last year’s Racing Post Plate at Cheltenham, he was backed into 7-2 and Tony McCoy cut every corner around the inside rail.
Leading down the final back straight, East Tycoon was hassled by the 5-2 market leader Smart Cavalier but his rival was ponderous at the last few fences and was well held by eight lengths.
“He just loves it here, far more than anywhere else, I think we’ll just keep him here!” said O’Neill.
“He’s just the sort that wins when he gets his turn but he should really be better than he is. The pattern of races here suit him, so I expect he’ll be back again.”
Another who could reappear at the track later this year is Mel In Blue, who was massively impressive in the Barbara Barker Hunters’ Chase.
The strapping 13-8 favourite, trained by Robert Waley-Cohen and ridden by his son Sam, was pulling the jockey’s arms out with three to jump.
He cantered home by 10 lengths from the running-on Saint Romble, and could return to Stratford for next month’s Champion Hunters’ Chase.
“I’m thrilled – I’ve been trying to win this race since I was riding,” said Robert Waley-Cohen.
“It all depends on the weather and how he is, but we’ll certainly have to think about coming back here.
“He’s not been over three miles before, and that race is three and a half, so we’ll have to see.”
Missis Potts (2-1 favourite) is clearly going the right way too, making off with the totesport 0800 221 221 Mares’ Only Handicap Hurdle by a tidy seven lengths.
Trainer Philip Hobbs said: “She’s only run one bad race when pulled up in the mares’ final at Newbury and we could never find out what was wrong with her. I suppose it was one of those things.”
Quarterback (13-2) provided a welcome winner for trainer Charlie Morlock in the in the toteplacepot Novices’ Hurdle.
Although rider Jimmy McCarthy had to stoke him along from some way out, he still had two lengths in the bag over his nearest rival Pukka Tique at the line.
Keenan’s Future (11-4) took the toteexacta Beginners’ Chase from Chicago Bulls by a length close home under a bullish David Dennis.
“He needed a confidence booster really and a clear round, as he was brought down in his first run over fences and ran out last time,” said in-form trainer Ian Williams.
“We should keep him going now. I hope he won’t go up too much in the handicap as he’s not beaten a strong bunch today.”
A three-way battle for the tote Text Betting 60021 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle went to Moon Star (8-1), who found the requisite finishing kick to stave off Habanero and Seize by a short head and three-quarters of a length for Alex Hales and Paul O’Neill.