Trainer Richard Lee praised jockey Micheal Nolan’s forward thinking after he guided top-weight Scales to victory in the Higos Insurance Services Bridgwater Handicap Hurdle at Taunton yesterday.
An 11-4 favourite, despite having failed to win in 12 previous attempts over obstacles, the seven-year-old pulled fiercely for his head in the opening exchanges of the near two-and-a-half-mile test due to the sedate early gallop.
With the initial plan of taking his time not working out, conditional jockey Nolan decided to allow his mount to stride on and it proved a tactical triumph.
The market leader made a bad mistake three flights from home, but stuck to his task well in the home straight to beat off the challenge of Meirig’s Dream by three-quarters of a length.
Lee told At The Races: “That’s why he’s going to be champion jockey – he used his brains.
“They went no gallop at all and he’s always been a bit keen this guy.
“When he made that mistake, it cost him a bit of ground, but he wasn’t too far away then and the horse really dug deep – he wanted to win.”
The feature event of the day was the Bathwick Tyres Veterans’ Handicap Chase, which went to 7-4 favourite Upham Atom.
Given a fine front-running ride by Grand National-winning pilot Liam Treadwell, the 10-year-old wanted it more than Sona Sasta and passed the post with three-and-three-quarter lengths in hand.
The Knoxs was a mile back in third, with the only other runner, Mobaasher, refusing at the fourth-last.
Nicky Henderson’s Little Dutch Girl won as a 1-7 favourite should in the Crest Nicholson Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle, while the David Pipe-trained Qalinas (7-2) fairly bolted up in the C&D South West 25th Anniversary Handicap Hurdle.
Seventh Sky (11-4) claimed a nine-length win in the SIS Live Handicap Hurdle for Charlie Mann and Noel Fehily, with Nicto De Beauchene an 8-1 scorer of the hunters’ chase.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved