HARVEY SMITH says patience will be key after novice chaser Delusionofgrandeur sprang a surprise at Catterick.
Running in the three-mile Beginners’ Chase, Sean Quinlan’s mount beat well-regarded stablemate Vintage Clouds – running in the colours of Grand National-winning owner Trevor Hemmings and Grade One-winning hurdler One Track Mind, whose two starts over steeplechase fences have not gone to plan.
This was a heartwarming win for the Leeds-based McGoldrick Racing syndicate who own Delusionofgrandeur. The venture was set up when Mister McGoldrick, a stalwart of the Smith yard for so long, was retired.
Jumping accurately, the lead enjoyed by Quinlan’s mount was sufficient to force a couple of errors out of Vintage Clouds in the closing stages.
“They are two nice horses, but they need time,” said Smith, the retired showjumper who trains at High Eldwick with his wife Sue.
“They’ll both be kept to novice races, we won’t aim high; they’ve got to get miles into their legs over fences.
“Look at One Track Mind; he was a Grade One winner over hurdles, but it’s very rare a horse can go from hurdles to fences in one leap and reach the same level. You need freaks like Coneygree and Thistlecrack to do that.
“It came down to jumping in the straight and one jumped better than the other.”
Trainer Warren Greatrex and jockey Gavin Sheehan had hoped the race would be a welcome confidence booster for One Track Mind, victorious at the Punchestown festival earlier this year, after a juddering first fence error at Newbury on his chasing debut.
His below-par run was another disappointment for the Lambourn yard after 2015 World Hurdle winner Cole Hrlden failed to fire on his chase debut at Wetherby 10 days ago.
Happily, there was better news for Greatrex and Sheehan when Boagrius made light work of his rivals in the concluding bumper, looking a useful prospect in the colours of the Million In Mind Partnership.
The meeting saw another winner for in-form North Yorkshire jockey Brian Hughes courtesy of Master Of Irony for Settrington trainer John Quinn.
However, Hughes missed out on a double after the Peter Niven-trained Brian Boranha – first past the post in the handicap hurdle - was disqualified when the jockey weighed in 2lb light.
Malton-based Niven exonerated the jockey as it transpired a lead weight had fallen through a hole in the saddle cloth.
Middleham rider Henry Brooke recorded his second victory since suffering life-threatening injuries when guiding Discoverie to handicap chase victory for Kenneth Slack.
Sara Bradstock sees Cue Card as a far bigger threat to Coneygree than Thistlecrack in the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton.
The 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero made an excellent return from over a year on the sidelines when a clear second to the hugely impressive Cue Card in last month’s Betfair Chase at Haydock.
While respectful of the threat posed by Colin Tizzard’s defending champion, Bradstock remains keen on a Boxing Day rematch and would be more than happy to take on his stable companion and last season’s all-conquering staying hurdler Thistlecrack.
The eight-year-old has won each of his three starts over fences, but Bradstock sees flaws in his jumping technique.
“I’m very frightened of Cue Card, but I’m not scared at all of Thistlecrack. He jumps over fences rather than races over them,” she said.
Bradstock, wife of trainer Mark, has been delighted with Coneygree’s progress since his return on Merseyside, but is praying for rain.
She said: “Basically he’s in great form and the plan is to run in the King George, but only if the ground was on the easy side. Good ground can sometimes be too fast, too. We have worked him on good, faster ground at home and I don’t think he really enjoyed it – he’s just too fragile.”