Paul Nicholls is eyeing a crack at the Greatwood Hurdle for Amour De Nuit after a day on which the former champion trainer enjoyed a four-timer at Kempton.
The former Sir Mark Prescott inmate had gone close in the Persian War at Chepstow last time out and relished the drop in class.
Sam Twiston-Davies did not have to work too hard on the 4-6 favourite, who won the Better Odds With Matchbook Novices’ Hurdle by two and three-quarter lengths from Listen To The Man.
“I think dropping back in trip helped, he travelled well last time but was left on his own while the race developed on the other side,” said Nicholls. “I’m still convinced a fast-run two miles suits him best and I think he’ll go for the Greatwood now.
“He’s ready for that, as he jumps well. He’s a novice no longer after November 1, so he’ll have to go in competitive handicaps.
“Something like the County Hurdle might be his aim and this time next year he’ll be novice chasing.”
Old Guard, a former winner of the Greatwood, justified even-money favouritism in the other Listed race on the card, the Matchbook VIP Hurdle.
Having struggled in the top races and carrying big weights in handicaps, he was able to stamp his class on this field, beating stablemate San Benedetto by four and a half lengths.
Harry Cobden, who rode him to that Greatwood success, was reunited with him.
Cobden said: “I thought we went slow early so I didn’t want to be off the pace, but he quickened away nicely.
“He’d had a run in the Silver Trophy and most of the others were first time out.
“He pings off good ground and he felt a good horse again, a couple of years ago when he won the Greatwood he travelled like a dream but he hadn’t been doing that last year.”
Nicholls also won the Matchbook Betting Exchange Juvenile Hurdle with 11-10 favourite Risk And Roll, while Twiston-Davies doubled up on Better Days in the Matchbook Casino Handicap Chase, trained by his father, Nigel.
Byrony Frost was on board Present Man (4-7 favourite), who is better known as a chaser but had enough ability to land the (Summer) RPLC Novices’ Hurdle to complete a fine afternoon for the Ditcheat team.
The Lawney Hill-trained Oliver’s Hill (6-1) followed up a recent Fontwell win off a 10lb higher mark under a cool ride from Aidan Coleman, pouncing on Nicholls’ Marracudja after the last.
“This was the plan, we’ll enjoy today and I’m pleased for the Caudwells (owners) as they wanted to sell but I persuaded them not to and he’s won twice since,” Hill told Racing UK.
“He doesn’t like soft ground so he’ll be put away in the winter. I’d like to run him in a decent race off a low weight.”
Exitas (10-1) just got up to beat Volt Face in the Matchbook Betting Podcast Chase for Phil Middleton and jockey Conor Shoemark.
“When he turns in he always comes to life,” said Shoemark. He jumps superbly and I think that won it for him today. He travels at his own speed, whether you sit at the front or the back.
“He’s lightly raced, but he’s had his issues. Better ground suits him as he’s got a bit older.”