Venetia Williams has never been afraid of sending her horses on long journeys and the Herefordshire handler plundered the feature prize at Catterick with Shangani.
Williams is enjoying her best season for nearly a decade and is operating at a near-20% strike-rate. Her fortunes surprisingly dipped after winning the Grand National with Mon Mome in 2009 but they are well and truly on the rise again now. She houses numerous young chasers on the up, as well as a live Gold Cup outsider in Katenko, and, along with stable jockey Aidan Coleman, they will not want the season to end.
Shangani won at Sandown just nine days ago and despite a 9lb rise the seven-year-old had no trouble in seeing off Mr Syntax as the 7-4 favourite in the £12,000 Weatherbys Bank Handicap Chase.
Coleman said: "He was very good at Sandown so he was entitled to come and win this. It's good prize-money, so fair play to Venetia and the team at home for spotting this race.
"We've been very lucky up north this season and we've had a few winners at Musselburgh so we've been rewarded for travelling. This horse is very versatile, he made the running the last day, but only because nothing else wanted to. Ideally he wants to be ridden like this - dropped in with a lead. He's a safe jumper and is improving nicely."
Trainer Michael Smith has a nice prospect on his hands in the shape of Imperial Vic, who defied a double penalty in the racinguk.com Novices´ Hurdle. Ridden by Danny Cook, Imperial Vic stayed on strongly to win by two lengths as the 6-4 favourite.
Smith said: "Whatever he does this year is a bonus. We had him in at Doncaster last week in a handicap but I decided to come here with a double penalty instead. The ground was no problem and I'm really excited about running him over fences."
Barry Keniry was in double form with David O'Meara's White Fusion (8-1) in the Cheltenham Preview Evening March 1st Handicap Hurdle and the Simon Shirley-Beavan-trained Rapidolyte De Ladalka in the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Novices´ Handicap Chase.
Shirley-Beavan's chaser holds an entry in the four-miler at Cheltenham but a change in the rules has not worked in his favour for that contest, according to his trainer, who said: "They let horses who have won over hurdles run in it now and I'd have thought they'd have too much speed for him, all he does is stay. He's a smashing jumper and was only getting going at the finish."
Keith Reveley's Vinetta (5-1) came with a wet sail to land the yorkshire-outdoors.co.uk Handicap Hurdle. Colm McCormack, riding his 18th winner, did not give up, despite being several lengths down at the last, and the mare finished with a rare rattle to beat Alta Rock by a length.
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