Oscar winner delights O’Brien
A review of the rest of Sunday's action from Huntingdon, where Fergal O'Brien's fine run of form continued.
Fergal O'Brien: In-form trainer
Oscar Rose provided trainer Fergal O'Brien with the perfect pick me up when taking a career first success in the Betfred TV Henrietta Knight Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race at Huntingdon.
After seeing stable star Alvarado come down at the second in the Becher Chase at Aintree on Saturday, the Naunton handler left the Cambridgeshire track in a much happier mood following the four-year-old's victory in the two-mile Listed prize.
Always moving well under Paddy Brennan, the 4/1 shot, who finished fourth in the same grade on her previous start at Cheltenham, showed a battling attitude to edge out Peggies Venture by a neck.
O'Brien said: "She is very good and I'm delighted for the owners. Paddy Brennan said she just travelled well throughout the race and said she felt like the best horse. She had a bit of a look when she hit the front, but he said he enjoyed the ride.
"Conor Shoemark gave her a lovely ride at Cheltenham and she has progressed from that. It is a shame he didn't ride her as he brought the owners to me and is a big part of the team, but Paddy rides everything when he can.
"We can't run her in an ordinary bumper, but they will let us run at Sandown in a Listed bumper so we will probably do that.
"It is a similar route to Colin's Sister who finished fifth in this last year and came second in the Sandown race."
A switch of codes appeared to work the trick for former useful Flat performer Glaring judging by his victory in the Betfred "Follow Us On Twitter" Novices' Hurdle.
Although failing to score in six outings on the level for trainer Amanda Perrett since joining from Andre Fabre, the Group-placed five-year-old knew exactly what was required on his hurdling debut when keeping warm favourite Burbank at bay by a length and a half.
The trainer's husband Mark Perrett said: "I could not believe a Group-placed horse on the Flat would start 33-1 for a novice hurdle at Huntingdon. It shows the strength of the novice hurdles.
"When I came round here (as a rider) a few years ago you were lucky enough if the horses had won a race, let alone be Group-race placed."
He added: "Jumping seems to have rekindled his enthusiasm and he did it really well in the end."
Richard Phillips saw his wait for a first winner of the season come to an end after Muthabir (9/2) initiated the first leg of a double for champion jockey Richard Johnson with a length and a quarter triumph in the Betfred "Wishing You A Merry Christmas" Handicap Hurdle.
Phillips said: "I'm delighted with that. We really always wanted to step him up in trip. Richard Johnson won a bumper on him at Southwell and he won a novice at Doncaster last year.
"He had been on the go a long time at the back end and we just freshened him up a bit and I was pleased with his comeback run at Chepstow the other day.
"They've all been running well without winning. I've been like a Lib Dem coming second or third and I've won a by-election today."
Trainer Tom Lacey said: "He has just improved with every run. I always thought he was very badly handicapped and I was delighted when he was dropped 3lb last week.
"That Southwell bumper he won is working out incredibly well, as the first eight have all won. We have got two weeks to get him out again before he is reassessed."