Nicky Henderson further strengthened his hand in the novice hurdling department as Utopie Des Bordes made a successful British debut at Doncaster.
Winner of a Grade One chase in France, she made her introduction in the 32Red Casino Mares´ Novices´ Hurdle over an extended two miles.
Barry Geraghty was keen to keep her covered from the fierce headwind in the home straight and there were still four in with a chance jumping the final flight. In the end, the 4-11 favourite beat Call Me A Star, who was conceding 6lb to the winner, by two lengths, with 66-1 chance September Blaze another two lengths adrift at the line.
"She's not very quick but there have been so many mares' races rained off we had to get her out and it just so happened this race was over two miles," said Henderson.
"She'd been running in staying races in France where she had 18 runs in 14 months so we gave her a break. There's a mares' Listed hurdle over two and a half miles at Sandown on Friday week that she'll go for next. As she's still a novice, we don't have to send her for the David Nicholson (OLBG Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival) this year."
Henderson and Geraghty soon doubled up with the promising Minella Forfitness in what could prove to be an informative £32 Bonus At 32Red.com Maiden Hurdle.
The 2011 November Handicap scorer Zuider Zee and dual Cesarewitch hero Aaim To Prosper were with the eventual winner all the way up the home straight but it was the former point-to-pointer who stayed on strongly.
A good leap at the last settled matters for the 11-4 joint-favourite, who ran out a two-length winner from Zuider Zee, who shaped well first time over hurdles.
"He was pretty keen and at halfway I thought I'd made a mistake stepping him up in trip," said Henderson.
"Barry said he wasn't as keen as he looked, though, and looking at the race you'd say the first three were much the best. He wants this trip, but Aintree could be more his place than Cheltenham."
19 June 2013Perfect Annecdote at Ascot
Godolphin swoop for Libertarian
Doyle hits treble top on Rizeena
Doyle fits the bill in Hunt Cup
Toronado pointed towards Goodwood
O'Brien keeps faith in Camelot
Kazeem crowned Prince of Ascot
Cambridge Dun and dusted
Perfect Ten in Jersey
Plenty of rain needed for Approval
Banoffee pencilled in for Haydock
Classic rematch in Coronation
Guest has excellent chance
Brittain sweet on Rizeena
Team O'Brien hope for perfect Ten
Chigun aiming for Cambridge glory
Camelot bids for redemption
O'Neill ace proves too sharp
Ballydoyle in command in Coventry
Dawn delivers in thriller
Sole powers to sprint glory
O'Brien sounds War cry
18 June 2013Stevens is king of the Castle
Al Thani snaps up Sandiva
Minute's silence remembers Cecil
Duntle on Cambridge duty
Alive and Just in Ribblesdale mix
Passage heads Gold field
Deegan considers Soprano options
Toro out for Palace glory
Cecil's words not lost on Ponsonby
Dawn out for Palace redemption
Hawkwood supplemented for Hardwicke
Flotilla To Drop Back In Trip
Cecil's Chigun in Cambridge action
Al Kazeem and Camelot clash again
De Kock hoping to make history
War ready for Royal Ascot battle
Kingdom set to reign over Ascot
17 June 2013Magician set for Palace showdown
Cat clings on for Carroll
Three more winners for Lady Cecil
Monaghan delivers on Midnight
Treve in stunning Diane win
Sapphire target for Trees
Beckett mulls Secret options
Nicholls has broken wrist
16 June 2013Songbird aiming to fly high
Movie has Newmarket on radar
Fahey juveniles primed for action
Stubbs leads O'Brien Coventry team
Salsify on summer break
Kempton target for Benbulben
Top trio head Palace runners
Shea Shea shoots for Stand glory
Animal heads Queen Anne field
Saint-Cloud aim for Dunaden
Magician to be declared for Palace
Soul all heart in York sprint
Kingsgate rules Musselburgh
Sam too sharp for rivals
Hughes makes it pay with Knight
Balding on mark with double
Morawij in a hurry in Scurry
Bartley is queen for a day
Big guns to clash in Coronation