Enqarde made up for the breakdown in Virgin Bet Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase 12 months ago when he returned to land an endurance test in style at Haydock.
Seven-year-old Dr. Richard Newland knocked his rider at the 13th fence in 2020 – but there was no repeat this time around as Incardi (8-1) put his rivals to the sword with a reliable performance.
Jockey Charlie Hammond brought him into the race steadily after Calypso Collings and Remastered appeared to be the mains early in the house respectively.
A challenge on the far side of the track, Enqarde started off the last fence and went on to win 10 lengths of Remastered. Calipso Collonges was four and a quarter lengths short in third with Just Your Type fourth.
“It’s Tommy Whittle’s second win and I thought of a very good run with Charlie Hammond,” Newland said.
“We trained him to race. He was running really well in the race last year when he lost his rider. He was training really well and I was hoping for a good show, but I thought it was a competitive race on paper – I am very happy with his performance.
“He got lost a bit last year and I think it might be best to keep the shade fresh and go for another good race but don’t rush it.
“He might be back in Haydock for the Grand National Trial. He ran it last season so we might have it again in that. An alternative would be to race like the Midlands National in the Ottocaster. The resident.
“We were thinking of a race like Ayder too, but I don’t have a clear plan yet.”
Newland completed a double when the Jesuit eloped with Virgin Pete Five’s Handicap Heidel.
The 5-pound Celine Leonard, the joint favourite, kicked an 11-4, undisputed winner of the 5-and-a-half lengths of Tokyo Gateway with Badeloronkanui in third.
“I was looking forward to the three-mile run on soft ground and it didn’t let me down. It was a very good performance,” Newland said.
“If the ground is calm he might run in the Bertemps final at Cheltenham, but I think it’s possible we’ll run him somewhere before because he won’t run at the moment.”
Adrimel is back on track with a convincing show of off the mark over the fences in the Virgin Bet Novices hunt.
Pulling out of his stalking start in Exeter earlier this month, six-year-old Tom Lacey was helped by his first-time blinker application as he returned to the promise he had shown as a handicap in the first half of last term.
Jumping well all the time, Adrimel (7-2) pulled off a Dreams Of Home favorite from the last third fence to win 15 lengths into the hands of Stan Shepard.
‘Exeter was completely my fault,’ said Lacey, ‘and the ground didn’t fit. We taught him over a mile and a half on the grass and he went so excitedly we thought we wouldn’t even care to take a cheek, but it backfired on me a horse we’d never think of running again without a cap. Head.
‘I don’t think it’s an unreal horse at all, it’s just one of those horses whose head is spinning elsewhere, and again at Exeter, I may have been guilty of not doing enough work with him before he stroked his brain. I lowered the horse at Exeter as much as he let me down .
“He’s more dependent on land for that trip, but it was really important that we get through that trip before we think about anything else. Warwick is an option for the Kingmaker, but I’m sure there are other options for him as well.”
Battled by Derek Fox, Haute Estime (11-1) made a desperate finish to earn honors for Lucinda Russell in a junior hurdle at Virgin Bet Mares.
Haute Estime and the longtime leader of Current Mood seem to be feuding between them, having been several lengths away from the pack on the last voyage.
However, Nina The Terrier, the favourite at 11-10, finished with a win and took the winner’s distance on the goal line to finish second, ahead of Current Mood.
Russell’s assistant and partner Peter Scudamore said: “We’ve always been very fond of her, but coaches say that kind of thing when they win!
“We have Paul McIvor to thank who did our work for us, told us to run it here and we have to thank Derek too who gave her an incredible ride.
“He rides better than ever now and I’m so glad he doesn’t get a lot of overseas trips because he’s invaluable to us – I’ve seldom seen a better man ride a horse, he’s a bit like me because he’s not the most elegant but effective!”