L’Ami Serge sailed through the desperately wet conditions at Plumpton yesterday to make an impressive debut over fences in the At The Races App On iPhone Novices’ Chase before waterlogging caused the card to be abandoned after the third race.
The meeting only got the go-ahead following an inspection, but after an inch of rain on top of saturated ground, the elements won the day.
The sloshy ground proved no hindrance to L’Ami Serge (2-11 favourite) as the Nicky Henderson-trained gelding showed he could go a long way over the bigger obstacles by making all to win with the minimum of fuss under Nico de Boinville.
L’Ami Serge quickly brushed off Doctor Harper’s challenge to win by 27 lengths.
Dollar Bill was the same distance away last of the three runners.
L’Ami Serge, who had not raced since finishing fourth to Douvan in last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, was cut to 10-1 from 12-1 with Betfred for the Racing Post Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham.
“I don’t suppose he’s learnt a whole lot, nor has anybody really, but we got a run into him and he’s jumped well and we got one under his belt,” Henderson said.
“I’d like him to have a couple more runs really, but it’s very difficult. There aren’t a lot of opportunities.
“You can do this once in a beginners’ novice and then you are virtually forced into graded races. You might have to go upstairs quite quickly.
“I think he was better than fourth in the Supreme. He won the Tolworth. He had a trapped epiglottis. We had that done so it curtailed his season.
“He’s potentially a very good chaser in the making and I suppose the Arkle is the natural route and we might walk into Douvan again.”
Anthony Bromley, racing manager to owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, was delighted with the performance in the difficult circumstances.
“It was sloppy stuff. It’s hard to look impressive in those conditions but he did and Doctor Harper is not a bad horse,” he said.
“He did it well and it was a fine start. The plan would be to try to get two races into him before Cheltenham.”
De Boinville was pleased to get that all-important first run into the horse.
He said: “We didn’t learn much, but it was a good experience for him.
“We had to go somewhere with him and this was the perfect opportunity, so we weren’t going to pull him out at any stage.”
That was the second race on the card and racing only lasted for one more event.
“We’re all for racing, but unfortunately the water is as much as a foot deep in places,” veteran jockey Andrew Thornton said.
“If the rain had stopped before racing, we’d have got through the day, but it’s got worse as the day has gone on.
“We’re all for continuing. There hasn’t been a faller today, horses have pulled up, but unfortunately there’s standing water.
“Wayne Hutchinson won the third race (on Minella Charmer) and he said at the back of the hurdle at the top of the hill, his horse stumbled.
“He didn’t come down but on another day he might have done. It’s getting worse and the rain doesn’t look like stopping.”
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