Sametegal moved a step closer to a third outing over the famous Grand National fences at Aintree when securing his first victory in almost five years to complete a doubles for Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden at Wincanton.
Without a victory to his name since landing the 2016 Grade Three Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury in March 2016 the evergreen 12 year old returned to winning ways with victory in the Stewart Tory Memorial Open Hunters’ Chase.
Putting in a bold jump at the last in the 3m 1f contest the 6-5 favourite, who finished third in the 2017 Grand Sefton at Aintree and sixth in this season’s renewal of the Grade Three, rallied well to defeat Porlock Bay by half a length.
Nicholls said: “He hasn’t won for five years but he has been running consistently. I opted to go hunter chasing and his aim will be Aintree as he is good around there.
“He was brilliant at the last today. He never finishes strongly but it was great to get his head in front. It is good for those older horses the chance to win a race or two.”
Highlighting the COVID restrictions which currently prohibit amateur riders competing, he added: “Natalie (Parker), who is one of our pupil assistants, he was for her to ride but what with all that has happened it’s a shame. But the minute it changes back she will be on board, and she might be able to ride him at Aintree.”
Meanwhile a step up to Grade Two company is on the cards for Lucky One, who got the ball rolling for Nicholls and Cobden with a straightforward 20 length success in the Southwest Syndicate Novices’ Hurdle over 1m 71/2f.
Nicholls said of the 5-4 winner: “He used to pull and pull and he almost pulled up on his first run as he ran too free. He then settled and won at Southwell but he then ran too free the next day at Cheltenham. We’ve done a lot of work on him and he is just beginning to relax now and he is going the right way.
“I could go to Kelso on March 6th and I wouldn’t be afraid to step him up at Aintree in the spring as I think the track would suit him nicely there.”
Jonjo O’Neill Jr was another to notch a double, highlighted by his 50th winner of the season aboard Time To Get Up, trained by his father and namesake, who prevailed by five lengths in the Dick Hunt Handicap Chase.
The winning rider said following the 3m 1f contest: “That (50 winners) was the first milestone last season and I’m glad to reach it by the beginning of February so hopefully with a couple of good months we can get a little bit further.”
On the 10-1 winner he added: “His hurdle form back in Ireland was decent. I thought the ground would be plenty soft enough for him as he is by Presenting but he seemed to handle it and I’m very happy with him.”
Rose Of Arcadia (5-6) provided trainer Colin Tizzard with his first winner in 44 days when holding on by a neck under O’Neill on her first start over 2m 51/2f in the EBF Mares’ National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle.
Joe Tizzard, son and assistant trainer, said: “She is a good mare but she needs to learn how to settle. She was keen for two miles today and she has done well on that ground to still be able to finish her race.”
Jordan Nailor reduced his claim from five to three pounds after riding the 40th winner of his career aboard And The New (4-1), who galloped his rivals into the ground to claim the Watch Race Replays At racingtv.com Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle by 16 lengths.
Speaking after the victory on the Johnny Farrelly-trained 10 year-old, Nailor said: “That’s the five pounds gone. It’s been on the back of my mind and once I got to 39 winners I just wanted to get it done. It’s been a good season so far.
“The step back to two and a half miles and the ground would have helped him. He can be a bit keen sometimes so I let him crack on with it.”
Jamie Snowden believes there is plenty more to come from Diddly Do (16-5) following her four and three quarter length victory in the Bet At racingtv.com Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
He said: “She was green enough the first day she ran her against the boys but that was arguably the best form. We will probably think about the Listed bumper at Sandown next month. The penny has not quite dropped and there is plenty more to come.”