Arthur's Pass staked a late claim to be part of Tom George's Cheltenham Festival squad as he completed a hat-trick in the Corbett Sports Novices' Limited Handicap Chase at Ludlow.
The Slad handler is quietly preparing a decent team for the biggest meeting of the National Hunt season, with the likes of Mail De Bievre, Module and Olofi ready to strut their stuff next month.
A trip to Cheltenham will have seemed a mile away for connections of Arthur's Pass heading into the campaign after he missed last season with injury, but the absence appears to have done him no harm judged on his comeback results.
Following back-to-back triumphs at Leicester in January, the lightly-raced nine-year-old was the 5-4 favourite to beat two opponents in Shropshire and Paddy Brennan was happy to sit last of the trio for much of the two-and-a-half-mile journey.
The jockey made his move at the top of the home straight and he soon put the race to bed, safely negotiating the remaining obstacles to take the prize by an eased-down seven lengths from Kie, with Carrigmorna King third.
Arthur's Pass is a 20-1 shot for Cheltenham's Pulteney Land Investments Novices' Handicap Chase and could creep into that contest with a 5lb penalty for this latest win.
George said: "I'm delighted with him. He's done most of his racing over two miles, the step up to two and a half looks to have suited him and he looks as though he'll get a bit further as well.
"He had an injury a year or so ago and for that reason he's quite lightly raced. He still seems to be improving and if he gets in at Cheltenham and he comes out of this race in good form, we probably will let him take his chance."
Kellys Brow caused something of an upset when making a winning debut for the Charlie Longsdon team in the Bet At corbettsports.com "National Hunt" Novices´ Handicap Hurdle.
A dual winner for Donald McCain last summer, but pulled up on his final start for the trainer in October, Kellys Brow was a 14-1 shot on his first start for new connections. He ran out an decisive two-and-a-quarter-length winner from George's Big Society.
Longsdon said: "I must admit I am pleasantly surprised. On what he has shown me at home I thought Donald had done very well to get two wins out of him. I thought the handicapper probably had his measure, but I was obviously wrong, and he has done it well. A lot of ours tend to need the run as well, so I am surprised, but over the moon at the same time."
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