Jockey Henry Brooke insisted his breakthrough Cheltenham success aboard Homme Public (13-2) was ‘up there’ with his best successes in the saddle after the pair secured a fortuitous victory in the SSS Super Alloys Arkle Trial Novices’ Chase.
Having teamed up with joint-trainers Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero to taste victory over the Grand National fences with Gesskille in the Boylesports Grand Sefton Handicap Chase at Aintree on Saturday, the 33-year-old had further cause for celebration following a dramatic renewal of the two-mile test.
Victory in the Grade Two prize appeared to be heading the way of the Joe Tizzard-trained 6-5 Favourite JPR One, who after putting in an exemplary round of jumping held a sizeable advantage on the run down to the last.
However, although jumping the last well enough the Court Cave gelding stumbled on landing to pitch Brendan Powell out of the side door leaving Homme Public and Petit Tonnerre to fight out the finish.
After making a winning debut over fences at Wetherby last time out Homme Public added to that success when getting the better of his late battle with Petit Tonnerre by two lengths.
Brooke said: “If anything, he maybe didn’t the love the ground my lad today. He just never really took the bit like he would normally. His jumping was very good and they went a nice gallop in front.
“I missed both two out and the last, but he is very good and nimble on his feet and he knows where his feet are.
“He has had a horse fall in front, and it could have been a lot worse, but they are both up okay and they live to fight another day. That is the main thing at the end of the day and there are people in worse circumstances right now.
“Jonjo (O’Neill Junior) has come to my girths (on Petit Tonnerre) and he has fairly scurried away there. He has just improved.
“It means a lot, and I might actually enjoy driving down here next time I come! It is definitely up there with what I’ve done in the saddle. He is a willing partner and that is what you need on a big day and hopefully he will be there to fight plenty more.”
As for joint trainer Greenall he believes that Homme Public would be better suited to a sounder surface although an outing in next month’s Grade One Betfair Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park appears unlikely.
Greenall said: “He is a likeable horse. Since he has switched to fences he has improved. I don’t think he looked quite as happy on the ground today.
“I think he is better on a better surface, and it was good ground at Wetherby, and he jumped a bit better.
“Henry gave him a nice ride. He has been fantastic. He comes in once a week and is a good member of the team. He has had his injuries in the past, but he rides really well with lots of confidence.
“We always thought he would want further, but we will stick to two miles for now. I think the Henry VIII at Sandown would be a step too far.”