Stimulating Song (9/1) produced an improved display when stepping back up in trip as he powered home to win the Paddy Power First Millionaire Qualifier Intermediate Handicap Hurdle.
The five-year-old, trained by Milton Harris, had disappointed on his only previous attempt at two miles and five furlongs at Kempton Park in March but benefited from a patient ride by Paddy Brennan.
Held up towards the rear of the field, Stimulating Song started to take closer order three flights out and moved up to second at the top of the home straight. Whatsupwithyou still held a clear advantage jumping the last but wandered around up the run-in, with Stimulating Song storming up the hill to win going away.
Milton Harris said: “Stimulating Song is a lovely horse. The mistake was mine, I should have run him over a trip before.
“I’ll talk to the owner [Pegasus Bloodstock & Mr A Harrison] about where he goes next. We schooled him over fences and that is his game. Despite being Flat-bred which put me off, he has so much speed.
“We can’t get carried away after that win, the ground was soft and we’ll probably run over Christmas.
“We were going to go chasing if Stimulating Song didn’t win today.
“We’ve got 47 horses in training. We started with 10 when we came back so we’re going OK. It’s not easy for anything but we’re doing our best."
Paddy Brennan said: “Alain Cawley is someone I speak to nearly every day about tactics and I went home last night thinking I might have left one [a win] behind in the last race. He told me something and I had it in mind there and that is what won me the race.
“You’ve got to ride to win, a bit like Ruby says, than ride not to lose and there’s a big difference. I had to be cool on him, I promise you if I had got there any earlier I could’ve been struggling. I didn’t have a lot of horse, it might have looked that way, but I had one go.
“You have got to believe in yourself and believe in the speed you’re going, it’s a long way home and you can get caught out. I have been here a few years now and I am still learning, but I was delighted with that.
“[He loves this ground] which is a massive help. Sam Twiston-Davies has ridden him previously and thought he would benefit from it being a bit slower. It is not quite the same with there being no one here, but it’s still Cheltenham and it’s lovely to get another one on the board.
“Cheltenham is the dream. Cheltenham is the Olympics and it doesn’t matter if it’s November or March, here is a special place.”
3.25pm Paddy Power First Millionaire Qualifier Intermediate Handicap Hurdle 2m 5f
1 Stimulating Song – Milton Harris 5-11-03 Paddy Brennan 9/1
2 Whatsupwithyou – Ben Pauling 6-11-07 Luca Morgan (7) 9/2
3 Captain Tom Cat – Dr Richard Newland 5-11-02 Cillin Leonard (7)
Distances: 2¾, 9½
Tote Win: £10.30 Places: £2.40 £1.50 £1.60 Exacta: £50.20 Trifecta: £243.80