Gavin Cromwell was quick to insist that the ‘engine is still there’ inside dual Stayers’ Hurdle winner Flooring Porter, who made an instant impact on his first start over fences in the William Hill Lengthen Your Odds Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham today, day two of The Showcase.
While not quite receiving the rapturous reception he received for his two Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle triumphs at the 2021 and 2022 Cheltenham Festivals the popular eight-year-old was still given a warm welcome back to what has been a happy hunting ground following his latest success.
Partnered by Keith Donoghue for the first time the easy to back 6-4 Favourite sat in second during the early stages of the extended three-mile contest before assuming his customary front running role after the seventh fence.
Once in command the gelded son of Yeats never looked in any danger of defeat after looking assured at the majority of fences under a confident looking Donoghue.
Although Broadway Boy, one of two runners in the race for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, attempted to throw down a big challenge on the run to the last it was not to be as Flooring Porter quickened clear, having jumped the final fence well, to score by an eased down two and a half lengths.
Cromwell said: “I’m delighted. He jumped really well, apart from a few ditches. First time over fences, and to do it from the front, it was a good performance.
“I know on ratings he was a good bit above the others in the race, but you still have to be happy with the way he has jumped. He did everything right and won well.
“He is a high-profile horse, and maybe not as high profile as he was, but there is always added pressure. He is very dear to us all and it is always nervous times.
“We briefly spoke about it (going chasing) at the back end of last season, and we did give him a jump before he went out and here we are.
“I thought he could so that, but I’m just delighted that he has done it. He went to the top of the hill very well which is great to see the engine is still there.
“It was a case of seeing how we get on today and then we will map a course. He will have to step up plenty, but obviously has the scope to with his hurdle rating.
“I don’t see why not (that he couldn’t match his hurdle form). He is not a very big horse, but he doesn’t jump like a small horse. He has plenty of scope and jumps really well.
“He is a little bit limited in the fact he is much better going left-handed so that is always an option (to come back here again).”
The final race of The Showcase was the Cheltenham & South West Racing Club Open National Hunt Flat Race which saw The Kemble Brewery (18-5) defy a 4lb penalty to come home the two and quarter lengths winner under David Bass. The Kim Bailey-trained four-year-old is now unbeaten in two starts having won on debut at Huntingdon in April.