There was disappointment for connections of Aux Ptit Soins at Exeter Racecourse yesterday after the six-year-old, who was regarded as one of the brightest talents in Paul Nicholls’ team, was defeated in the RGB Building Supplies Novices’ Chase.
Winner of the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in 2015, he was sent off at 2/7 under Nick Scholfield but was never able to quite get on terms with the Philip Hobbs-trained Drumlee Sunset who ran out the two and a quarter of a lengths winner. Following the race, Nicholls said he hoped the gelding would improve for the run and over further with future plans remaining fluid.
With Nicholls’ Boa Island falling in the 188Bet.co.uk Novices’ Limited Chase in a race won by Laurium, a 10-1 chance, ridden by Nico De Boinville and trained by Nicky Henderson, compensation was gained in the 188Bet Novices’ Hurdle with Anchor Ma, ridden by Scholfield, running out the easy eight lengths winner.
In the opening Open Meeting Betting at 188Bet Handicap Hurdle, Expedite jinked up the run in but jockey Tom Cannon sat tight in the saddle and rode out the five-year-old to score. The gelding had been heavily backed on his debut for Ben Pauling at Newton Abbot last month and made amends for defeat there with a two and a half lengths success.
Explaining the turnaround, Pauling said: “The track was all wrong for him last time as he wants right handed rather than left handed. He idled a bit in front but he’s done well. He’s schooled over fences and he’ll definitely go chasing,” said Pauling.
With the favourite Mighty Leader making a quick exit in the RGB Building Supplies Handicap Steeple Chase, falling at the first, the RGB Building Supplies Handicap Chase looked a wide open race with any one of the runners in with a chance. And so it proved with Umberto D’Olivate leading the remaining eight runners into the home straight, pulling further away from the field as the winning post approached, and two 25-1 chances, Replacement Plan with Trehan Cross, filling second and third places. James Best was on the board the winner, who last ran 211 and had been readied to perfection by his trainer Robert Walford who said “He had a lovely positive ride and he jumped well. He lacks a gear now, but the track suits him and he stays. We’ll see what the handicapper does but there’s a 3m6f race here that we will look at for him. He’s a lovely horse and he’s been good for us.”
Easiest winner of the day was that of the dual purpose gelding Unison who romped away to a 15 lengths success in the feature Rugby Betting at 188Bet Handicap Hurdle in the hands of Matt Griffiths. Trainer Jeremy Scott said: “The race did cut up, but the question mark was whether he would stay the trip which he appeared to do well.”
The remaining winner on the card was saddled by David Pipe with Poison Berry , ridden by David Noonan, winning the mares’ novices’ hurdle by 11 lengths.