Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies was thrilled get both himself and father Nigel off the cold list at this crucial stage of the season as he booted home a double at Bangor.
It promises to be a huge couple of weeks for the Naunton-based team as they put the finishing touches to their Cheltenham Festival squad, with The New One and Imperial Commander the star names. Having gone 18 days without a winner prior to the start of play at Bangor, there will have been a sigh of relief by all associated with the camp as the father-son combination stopped the quiet spell in Wales.
Tullyraine had been well beaten on his last couple of starts over fences and was a 15-2 chance switching back to the smaller obstacles for Weatherbys Bank Handicap Hurdle. It was clear from the early stage the nine-year-old was enjoying the change of discipline and, having tracked the leaders, he picked up well from the home turn to put the race to bed. He safely negotiated the final flight to seal a two-and-a-half-length verdict over 2-1 joint-favourite Corrin Wood.
Sam Twiston-Davies said: "It's nice to get off the cold list just before Cheltenham. They've all been running well, we've just not had much luck and maybe a few of the horses have been running in the wrong races."
Of Tullyraine, Twiston-Davies jnr said: "Things just hadn't been going quite right. He'd been flat out over fences and hadn't been enjoying himself, so it's nice to get him back over hurdles. He's jumped well on the whole and won well and I think he'll stay over hurdles for now to get his confidence up. We can always go chasing again next year."
The Twiston-Davies' completed the brace as 11-4 joint-favourite Tara Rose landed the Zuidam UK Novices' Handicap Chase.
Sue Smith's Coverholder (8-15 favourite) bagged his fourth straight win in less than a month in the Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide Handicap Hurdle. Snapped up for just 6,000 guineas after winning a Catterick seller in late December, the six-year-old is proving to be an extremely shrewd acquisition and might not be done winning yet judged on his latest seven-length triumph.
Smith told Racing UK: "He's been lovely. I couldn't be more pleased with him and he's done absolutely everything right. He's improved every time he's run, he's a very well-bred horse and he's very smart over his hurdles. We don't do a lot of work with him because he's run so frequently. I'm really looking forward to him next season over fences."
Following four successive placed efforts, Venetia Williams-trained 7-4 favourite Ciceron claimed a first win over fences in the Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre Beginners' Chase.
Winning jockey Liam Treadwell said: "He was entitled to do that. He's had some tough targets over two miles over fences, end-to-end gallop stuff, and it just worked perfectly. It's pleasing he's built on what he's shown already over fences."
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Prize money boost in HRI initiative
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Martin readying big guns
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The New One in Haydock return
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Activial stars in Ladbroke field
18 December 2014Alvarado back for National service
Winner given Lexus go-ahead
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16 December 2014Pipe bowled over by Palace
Cole to duck Leopardstown mission
Pipe bowled over by Palace
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Five left in Long Walk