Trainer Michael Scudamore feels there’s plenty to like about the progressive Mofasa (7-2), who took his unbeaten record to two over hurdles when striking in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.
The son of Ocovango arrived for this two and a half mile contest on the back of a deeply impressive debut success at Uttoxeter at the beginning of the month, though he faced a warm-looking field of 10 runners today with horses from several powerful yards in the line-up – including the 6-4 Favourite Music Drive for the Gordon Elliott team.
The bird looked to have flown when a poor jump at the last allowed 20-1 chance The Wounded Knee to pinch a few lengths, but Luca Morgan kept his cool and Mofasa stayed on well for a battling three-quarter length success.
And Scudamore, who has a big runner with Do Your Job in Sunday’s Grade Two Jewson St Helens Old Roan Chase at Aintree, was delighted with the run. He said: “We’ll go home and have a chat and see what the best thing is to do, but that was only the third run of his life so we’ll look to give him a bit of time now and let him get over these two quickish runs and make a plan to go again around Christmas time.
“He’s such a big frame of a horse. He was in training all last year with no issues and we wanted to get another run into him around spring time but the ground was just so quick that we didn’t get it – but it was probably a blessing in disguise to get that bit more time.
“He looks as though he’s got plenty of toe and Luca said he just felt like he was doing an easy enough speed all the way through. He’s done everything right so far and we haven’t had many novice hurdlers come and do what he’s done so he’s going the right way.
“He’s got to develop a lot yet with his frame and things but physically he looks the part and mentally he’s got the right attitude so hopefully we can just keep progressing.”
Winning jockey Luca Morgan added: “He made a bad mistake at the last and I thought that would kind of see us off for second place, but he found really well after the last which surprised me a bit.
“I was just saying to Michael and his owners then, his first run to this one was like chalk and cheese. He ran in snatches a little bit at Uttoxeter, but he was really on the button today and if he can improve like that again he would be a right little horse.”
Meanwhile, the mare Found On (9-2) produced a fine display of jumping to take victory for the Martin Keighley team in the fourth race on the card, the 888Sport Novices' Limited Handicap Chase over two and a half miles.
The seven year old arrived here having won each of her last four starts over fences and she didn’t put a hoof wrong throughout, jumping her rivals into submission with a pillar-to-post performance that sealed a six-length success.
Keighley, who is based just 17 miles from the racecourse at Condicote, revealed that he was hopeful of landing some black type this term with the daughter of Mahler. He said: “She always makes the running and Sean (Bowen, jockey) said that they all wanted to make it today. Sean is such a good rider that she had plenty of room over the first couple and she just dominated the race after that.
“She was fit because she’d had a prep race at Worcester and her jumping was a different class, so it was a really good performance against some nice horses. I’d be hoping there’s a Listed chase in her somewhere and you’d think she’d get three miles.”
Bowen earned plenty of plaudits for his performance in the saddle and when reflecting on the ride after the race, he said: "She's a brilliant jumper of a fence and was actually a bit too brave over hurdles.
"A fence has just backed her off to the point where she's got loads of scope but she's clever with it so that's a good round of jumping. She just goes up and you wonder if you're going to come back down or not!
"She has grown up a lot, but you have to get her in that good rhythm, she's a good horse on her day.”