Captain Cargo, runner-up on his previous start over the course in December, went one better to land the feature race at Warwick on Monday for owner/breeder Martin Tucker and trainer Caroline Bailey, writes David Hucker.
Collaring leader Oh Land Abloom as they approached the final flight, a good jump sealed the outcome for this former point-to-pointer and Sean Bowen pushed him out for a five-length success to take the £16,400 Start Your Racing TV Trial Now Handicap Hurdle run over three-and-a-quarter miles.
There was a red-hot favourite in the opening Racing TV Free For A Month Juvenile Hurdle in the shape of Auteuil winner Laskadine, the only ride of the afternoon for Irish jockey Barry Geraghty.
Now owned by JP McManus and trained by Nicky Henderson, Laskadine faced another ex-French juvenile in The Crooner among her 12 opponents.
It was The Crooner who came into the home straight in the lead with the favourite in hot pursuit. There was little between them over the last two jumps but Laskadine asserted on the run-in, with Faldo, making his debut for trainer Ian Williams, coming to pip The Crooner for second spot.
Laskadine was making it four winners in a row for the champion trainer, earning a quote of 25-1 from Paddy Power for the Cheltenham Festival and Henderson was looking to add another with course and distance winner Yellow Dockets in the following mares novices hurdle.
Yellow Dockets had made all the running to beat Printing Dollars at the end of December and, with the runner-up scoring at Exeter the day before, the form looked solid enough. It was the same again this time and she put the race to bed when quickening away from Shantung after the second-last flight.
A long distance chase at Warwick would not be the same without regular Muckle Roe and he topped the weights in the third race, going off second-favourite behind Plus One who, after early mistakes, was always fighting a losing battle.
He ran his usual good race to finish third, but the honours went to 7-1 shot Ange Des Malberaux, who challenged outsider Oneida Tribe at the final fence and went clear to record his fifth win since joining Dan Skelton’s Warwickshire stable last July.
Bailey and Bowen looked like doubling up when course winner Dyliev, making her handicap debut, led over the second-last in the Watch Racing TV With Free Trial Now Handicap Hurdle but she could not resist the challenge of Larch Hill who was brought with a well-timed run by Sam Twiston -Davies to get off the mark at the eighth attempt.
Shantou Flyer, last seen when pulling up in the Randox Health Grand National, was the highest-rated runner in the closing Overbury Stud Willoughby De Broke Open Hunters’ Chase but, making his first appearance since wind surgery, he finished a well-beaten fifth behind prolific point-to-pointer Hazel Hill