Eclair Surf, running in the colours of Dominic Burke and Tim Syder and ridden by Tom Bellamy, took the feature £100,000 Grade 3 Agetur UK Ltd Classic Handicap Chase, highlight of Warwick' s televised card on Saturday, writes David Hucker.
Last year's winner Notachance and runner-up Achille occupied the last two places of the seven finishers as there was a new order up front with Eclair Turf, who was always up with the pace, overcoming a blunder at the 14th fence to forge clear from well-backed 7-2 favourite Gericault Roque, who could make no impression in the home straight.
"He has loads of abilty, but is not straightforward and does all his work on his own" said winning trainer Emma Lavelle. "He stays and there are some nice long-distance races to aim for."
Favourite backers got off to the best possible start when Punctuation, having his first run for trainer Fergal O'Brien, came to join pacesetter Greatest Star at the penultimate flight and run right away with the opening Start Your Racing TV Free Trial Now Novices' Handicap Hurdle.
Brave Seasca, who was chasing a hat-trick, and Not Available cut out the running in the Class 2 Alder Demain & Akers PMS Oxford Edward Courage Cup Handicap Chase tracked by last year's winner Sky Pirate, who was giving 20lbs and upwards to his rivals.
Brave Seasca led into the home straight with Sky Pirate close up but, in the end, weight told and he ran out a comfortable winner, with the runner-up going down honourably in defeat.
Threeunderthrufive became the third winning favourite of the afternoon when notching his fourth win from five chasing starts, dominating from start to finish in the Grade 2 Wigley Group Hampton Novices’ Chase. In doing so, he set himself up for a £25,000 bonus from the sponsors should he go on to win one of the three novice chases at the Cheltenham Festival and Paddy Power shortened him from 8-1 to 6-1 to take the National Hunt Chase in two months time..
Trainer Archie Watson is better known for his successes on the flat, but he has a useful hurdler on his hands in the shape of Star Horn, who made it two wins from two runs when landing the Grade 2 Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle.
Irish horses dominated the entries for the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle, but it was a British-trained runner that prevailed as Sporting John, in the hands of Aidan Coleman, triumphed for owner J P McManus and Philip Hobbs, following which Paddy Power halved his odds for the final from 16-1 to 8-1. With Riggs, who was sent off the 85-40 favourite, having been pulled up by Harry Skelton, all of the six finishers qualified for this year's contest.
Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson had an afternoon to remember as his Luccia, ridden by conditional jockey Ben Ffrench-Davis, took the closing Racing TV Free For A Month "Newcomers" National Hunt Flat Race to add to the four winners he sent out at Kempton Park.