West Yorkshire handler Sue Smith enjoyed a winner at Warwick on Saturday, when Joke Dancer (100-30) capitalised on a last-fence mistake by Rough Night to take the Project Management Services Oxford Ltd Edward Courage Cup Handicap Chase.
Jockey Danny Cook seized on the blunder to send the Bingley-trained seven-year-old on to score by eight lengths from the long-time leader and favourite.
Cook said: “He was coming underneath me going to the last, but I wasn’t bothered and when we jumped the last I opened him up and I was surprised how well he picked up.
“He’s won over two miles and he’s a three-miler in time. He’s going the right way and is getting his confidence.
“I was pleased with his jumping today. He was good.”
Mossy Fen outstayed his rivals to win the Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle.
Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, he had to settle for fourth behind stable companion Redford Road at Cheltenham last time out, but prior to that had been very impressive at Aintree. Victory looked unlikely turning into the straight in this Grade Two event as Dan Skelton’s Shan Blue kicked clear, pursued by Decor Irlandais.
When Shan Blue’s stride began to shorten after the second last, it was the Irish raider Decor Irlandais who hit the front and seemed set for victory.
But Sam Twiston-Davies saw a great stride approaching the final flight on Mossy Fen (7-2), landed running and claimed the leader in the final 100 yards to win by three-quarters of a length.
Carl Llewellyn, the trainer’s assistant, said: “He battled on. He’s going to be a chaser. He stayed on well and Sam gave him a great ride. He’s a fine horse and he’s tough.
“The owners are from Liverpool, so they might want to go for the three-mile Grade One for novices at Aintree.
“They’ve got quite a few horses with us.”
The winning rider added: “Things didn’t go right last time, but I’d like to see him on better ground over three miles – (that) is probably the dream.
“His future is chasing. You can see he has the size and scope. He was more babyish than he probably has been so far.
“He jumps to the right a little bit which doesn’t bother me.
“He’s just very green, but he has a great attitude and is a pleasure to ride.”
Kimberlite Candy stayed on stoutly to foil a brave front-running performance from Captain Chaos in the McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase.
Harry Skelton fired Captain Chaos into most of his fences and his mount responded willingly most of the way around, stretching the field from a long way out.
As the five quick fences down the back straight on the final circuit thinned out the challengers, there were just three in with a realistic chance, with eventual winner Kimberlite Candy on the outside of Ladbrokes Trophy runner-up The Conditional, who was still seemingly going well.
Winning rider Richie McLernon had The Conditional on his inside turning onto the straight and when the latter started to toil, McLernon kicked for home.
Kimberlite Candy, who was second in the Becher Chase last time out, looked full of running as he powered over the line 10 lengths clear for trainer Tom Lacey. Petite Power stayed on from a long way back to beat The Conditional for third.
Lacey said: “He’d never backed up a good run, so that obviously was a concern. He’s a year older and everything he does in his work, he’s taking it better. Before he was always behind the bridle. He’s the finished article now, I think.
“Richie got him into a lovely rhythm, but said he didn’t jump as well as he has done previously at Aintree (in the Becher).
“We’ll see about the National. It would have to be soft ground. There’s no point going there on quicker ground.
“He has to go up to get in anyway. It’s an option.”
McLernon added: “He did it well. The National is a long way away yet. I’ll let them make the targets. I’m just lucky enough to get the ride on him.
“Normally, jumping is his main thing and he jumped so well around Aintree the last day. Just because he was back over these today, it took him a while to warm up. No one wanted to go on, so I just got a clean passage the whole way round.”
Dan Skelton was thrilled with the performance of the runner-up and said: “It was a really great run. I’m just gutted for the horse. He’s been second in four top-class staying chases now.”
Jockey Jonjo O’Neill jnr, subject of an interview in Saturday’s Sports Weekend, rode a double at Wetherby the same afternoon.
The son of Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey and trainer Jonjo O’Neill, won the Racing TV Mares’ Novices Chase on 5-4 favourite Annie Mc for his father.
He followed it up with victory in the last race – the National Hunt Flat – on Maridadi, the 5-2 joint-favourite, for Hughie Morrison.