Imperial Shabra received the loudest cheer of the afternoon at Stratford after claiming the Alice’s Noodle Bar Novices’ Handicap Chase – but the decibel level would have been considerably higher had Oliver Brady been present.
Brady, who is based in County Monaghan, is known for his raucous celebrations and his fellow countrymen stopping off in Warwickshire to warm up for Cheltenham Festival week had to compensate for the fact the trainer is still recovering at home from a heart attack.
Imperial Shabra (3-1), out of his depth on many occasions this season including against Sizing Europe at Punchestown, still had plenty of his plate at a far less illustrious level with jockey Gerry Fox working hard just to keep him to the fore.
He was given another chance due to the erratic jumping of Surf And Turf in front and pulled out a little more on the run-in to finish a length and a half clear.
Brady’s assistant, Anthony McCann, said: “The boss had a massive heart attack in January and the doctors wouldn’t let him fly.
“This was a good performance. He hasn’t had good ground in Ireland and the trip suited today.
“He might go for the Jewson on Thursday if he’s all right, and he’ll stay the two and a half miles.”
Owner Terry Pryke looked as happy as if he had owned a Cheltenham winner after his bargain mare Beyeh beat the boys in the Try Our New Gallery Restaurant Juvenile Hurdle.
Sent off at 18-1 after a fair debut over hurdles at Doncaster, Beyeh strode into the lead turning into the home straight and Charlie Wallis had enough in hand to finish two lengths clear of Greyfriars Drummer.
“She only cost 800 guineas and you wouldn’t think for a minute she might end up winning a decent little race,” said Pryke.
“I’d been watching her on the Flat and thought she might be worth trying over a bit further over hurdles. We’ve had a few winners before but this is very special.”
Trainer Michael Appleby added: “I’m not sure where we’ll go now, possibly Aintree.”
Wallis very nearly rode a double in the DC Catering Handicap Hurdle but Red Skipper was nabbed close to the post by Traditional Bob (12-1).
Railway Rico (9-4 joint-favourite), who had limited experience since joining Paul Rich from Ireland, bolted up by 18 lengths under Jason Maguire in the Main Event Catering Selling Hurdle.
Rich said: “It’s not really a surprise as he thought we’d got him through his problems – he has had a lot of issues with his joints.”
Railway Rico failed to attract a bid at the auction.
Mylord Collonges had a prior course victory under his belt but his welcome was rather more muted as he landed the Firs Mitsubishi & Firs Ssangyong Handicap Chase at 25-1.
Susan Nock, who trains the black gelding for her daughters Camilla and Rosie, said: “There wasn’t much of a cheer, so I don’t think many people had backed him!
“He was brilliant when he won at Wincanton but very disappointing when he ran at Hereford. This looks to be his place so hopefully he’ll come back.”
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