TOP Yorkshire prospect Cyrus Darius made his odds-on backers sweat when making a winning chasing debut in the Timothy Hardie Jewellers Novices’ Chase at Perth.
Sent off the 1-6 favourite against just two rivals to confirm the impression he made at the Grand National meeting over hurdles in April, he survived an almighty blunder at the third-last.
Having tracked Gordon Elliott’s Shadow Catcher for the first circuit, Brian Hughes sent the favourite on with half-a-mile to run.
Malcolm Jefferson’s six-year-old showed what he could do on a couple of occasions when meeting fences on the right stride, taking lengths out of his only serious rival.
However, he made a series of niggling errors, putting a foot in the water jump and dragging his hind legs through a few fences.
At the first in the home straight, Hughes did well to stay on, with his giant partner launching himself at the open ditch.
That gave Shadow Catcher and Richard Johnson a second chance but to Cyrus Darius’ credit he battled back gamely to prevail narrowly, surviving a stewards’ inquiry in the process as the pair came close together after the last.
Jefferson said: “He lost a shoe, I’m not sure where, it might have been when he put his foot in the water or the next fence, which he hit.
“I still think if he hadn’t made the mistake at the open ditch he’d have won easily because Richard wouldn’t have bothered chasing on the runner-up, but he sensed another chance and it nearly paid off.
“He’s had a good blow. Most of mine have been running well but needed a run and Brian thinks he’ll be much better in a better race.
“He’ll be back over two miles next, but I don’t know where, as long as he’s OK in the morning that’s the main thing.
“It might have done him good to nudge a few. He jumped 12 at home yesterday and never touched a twig, sometimes it’s better if they make a mistake at home.
“We won’t be in a hurry. There’s a lack of options for horses like him anyway.
“I like my horses to make their own headlines, but at least he’s got a run under his belt, he was ready to run.
“He’s a great cruiser, we saw that at Aintree, and I think when he’s allowed to stride on in a good race over two miles you’ll see him at his best.”