Team Ditcheat dominate 'Denman Day'

With Denman not in competitive action on his very own day at Exeter it was up to stablemates Inchidaly Rock, Take The Breeze and The Minack to take up the slack.

With Denman not in competitive action on his very own day at Exeter it was up to stablemates Inchidaly Rock, Take The Breeze and The Minack to take up the slack.

The 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner – and this year’s runner-up – dropped in to the Devon course for a quick piper-opener at noon before owners Harry Findlay and Paul Barber opened up an extension to one of the stands named in his honour.

While Inchidaly Rock is also trained by Paul Nicholls and carries Findlay’s colours, any other resemblance is merely passing.

Although the seven-year-old collected the Bathwick Tyres Taunton Novices’ Chase very easily, he is not considered the yard’s best young stayer, let alone a successor to Denman.

He was the 8-13 favourite for the three-mile event on the back of decent hurdles form and his jumping saw him shrug off the weakening Giles Cross, eventually coasting 14 lengths clear under Ruby Walsh.

The grey Take The Breeze (7-2), who is not under the same ownership, had a similar standard of hurdles form over shorter distances.

He collected the Deloitte LLP Beginners’ Chase with equal conviction before The Minack (4-9 favourite) followed his example in the Haldon Stand Extension Is Now Open Novices’ Hurdle.

Both horses were also ridden by Walsh.

Nicholls said: “It has been a good afternoon. Inchidaly Rock is one of those who does nothing at home, but he had a breathing operation in the summer.

“He needs a month between races and will probably go for another one of these first.

“He’s not going to be tops – he’s not big enough – but he’s the sort who might run in a Welsh National one day, or end up in the four-miler at Cheltenham.

“It’s similar with Take The Breeze – I wouldn’t know where he went next and he loves soft ground.

“He jumped very well and was as fit as a flea.

“He schooled outside for the first time last week and he was OK, but made a few mistakes, and he has done a lot since.”

Of The Minack, Nicholls later added: “He’s very green, but certainly the sort you could run in a nice race.”

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ The Great Alfie (11-2) looked another fair staying chase prospect as he ground out the Bathwick Tyres Plymouth Handicap Hurdle.

The six-year-old had been off the track a long time before his reappearance at Perth in September, but jockey Paddy Brennan was full of confidence from some way out.

The 3-1 favourite Clyffe Hanger was off the bridle far sooner but pushed The Great Alfie all the way to the line, only conceding by a neck, with the pair a mile clear.

The trainer’s assistant, Carl Llewellyn, said: “He’s going the right way and I think there’ll be a nice handicap in him before he goes over fences.”

Evan Williams, also on the mark at Lingfield, struck when Gilwen Glory (4-1) created victory from an unlikely position in the Wilson’s 20th Anniversary Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, catching Bathwick Quest close home.

Jockey Christian Williams said: “I lost an iron early in the race, bad ride I suppose!

“She showed a bit of guts there.”

Richard Johnson had to pull out all of the stops on likeable front-runner Fighting Chance (5-2 favourite), but the line came in time in the Denman Room Handicap Chase.

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