Connetable strikes for Nicholls

News from Wincanton where Connetable strengthened the strong hand enjoyed by Paul Nicholls in the novice chase division.

The strong hand enjoyed by Paul Nicholls in the novice chase division saw another name added to that list after Connetable made his debut over fences a winning one at Wincanton.

With Frodon and Clan Des Obeaux to name but two looking useful recruits to the chasing game, the four-year-old became the latest from the Ditcheat yard to note over fences when taking an eventful Be Wiser Beginners' Chase.

Despite being one of the first off the bridle, the 5/1 shot's jumping stood the test in race which saw four of the seven runners come down, including favourite Barney Dwan, to defeat only other finisher Robinsfirth by a length and three-quarters.

Nicholls said of the Sam Twiston-Davies-ridden winner: "He is lazy. He probably wants headgear on, but I didn't want to put it on for his first run over fences.

"He jumped cautiously early on, but he was just picking them off one by one, then he got to the front and pricked his ears.

"He is like Frodon in that he will get better and better with experience on softer ground and over further.

"He won the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown last season and he ran over hurdles the other day, but he was never going to win off that mark so we thought we would go chasing.

"The Reynoldstown could be something later on, I suppose. He just wants a test of stamina."

There was more success on the card for Nicholls after Movewiththetimes made the most of a steep drop in class to record his third success from four starts in the B&J Haulage Novices' Hurdle.

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Although losing his unbeaten record in a Grade Two event at Cheltenham, the 4/11 favourite needed only to be nudged out to defeat Hidden Cargo by a length and deny trainer Alan King a winner on his 50th birthday.

Nicholls said: "He was green at Cheltenham and just needs the experience before he goes into a decent novice hurdle later on. Whatever he does over hurdles will be a bonus."

Strong Pursuit (8/1) built on his first run in 20 months when making virtually all in the Jockey Club Ownership Syndicate Maiden Hurdle.

Having trailed home last on his debut for Philip Hobbs at Ascot 24 days ago. the six-year-old made amends in the two-and-a-half-mile prize when pouring on the pressure from the sharp end to claim victory by nine lengths.

Winning rider Richard Johnson said: "He hadn't run in more than 18 months last time out and he was a bit gassy but he has come on for that.

"He is a nice horse and is more of a staying chaser in time when they decide to go down that route."

Chris Gordon fears he may have scuppered plans of an outing in next month's Sussex National at Plumpton with Carloswayback (20/1) following his eased-down six-length win in the Karl Stringfellow 70th Birthday Handicap Chase.

He said: "He ran over two and a half miles last time at Lingfield. He ran well and arguably could have been second.

"I said to the owner then that I'd like to go for the Sussex National and that has been the plan for a while, but we've probably done ourselves in for that now.

"It's great to have an old 11-year-old back winning again."

Soupy Soups could be in line for a quick reappearance after opening his account for the season with a four-and-a-half-length success in the Racing Welfare Novices' Handicap Hurdle.

Trainer Neil Mulholland said: "He ran well last time at Ffos Las. First time out he was disappointing, but he wasn't quite right.

"He is in at Fakenham on Sunday and if he is OK he will go there."

The Johnny Farrelly-trained Amantius (7/2) backed up his win at Leicester in the ROA/Racing Post Owners' Jackpot Handicap Hurdle, while Dai Burchell's Guanciale (7/2) did likewise when following up his recent victory at Ffos Las in the Be Wiser Insurance Handicap Chase.

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