Patience pays off for Martin Hill as Kim Tian Road takes victory at Exeter
It was a cracking training performance from Martin Hill at Exeter Racecourse yesterday, when he had Kim Tian Road spot-on to win the British Stallion Studs Supporting British Racing EBF Mares' National Hunt Novices' Hurdle after an absence of 775 days.
The home-bred seven-year-old had been off the track since January 2011, but Hadden Frost was always travelling comfortably and pushed the mare out to score a two lengths success.
"She was fired in both front legs after she ran at Taunton, and then she had a wind operation. She's a great big mare, and she'll go over fences in time as mares' races can be very valuable," said Hill, who trains near Totnes in Devon.
Another Devon trainer on the mark was Barnstaple-based Victor Dartnall, who saddled Tolkeins Tango, owned by his secretary Debbie Tucker's mother Sonia Hall, to win a competitive 19-runner handicap hurdle.
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The 5-1 chance took up the running at the final flight, with the Chris Down-trained Loyaute in second.
"He was a very good bumper winner at Chepstow, but the race really lit him up and we've had to teach him how to settle. Jack Doyle gave him a fantastic ride, giving him plenty of cover but keeping him up with the pace. We need a bit of rain now before we run him again, but he'll be brilliant in time over fences," said Dartnall.
Ken Nelmes rides out The Clyda Rover everyday for his trainer wife, Helen and, although he knew the nine-year-old was well, he was shocked when he landed the Higos Insurance Devon National.
"I just wasn't quite sure if I'd done enough work with him. Now we'll have to wait and see what the handicapper does as he won that very easily," he said.
Paul Maloney gave the nine-year-old a peach of ride, taking up the running after the last and pushing him out for a seven-lengths success from Sea Saffron.
Philip Hobbs has not had the best of luck at the course this season, but De La Bech could prove the tide is turning with a length win in the novices' steeplechase over three miles. The six-year-old jumped upsides Big News over the final fence, but the latter stumbled on landing, handing the initiative to De La Bech.
Angela Yeoman's home-bred Southfield Theatre held off the challenge of Billy No Name to win the Weatherbys Bank Novices' Hurdle, with the concluding Racing Excellence Conditional Jockeys' Training Series Handicap Hurdle going to Chilbury Hill with Jason Kiely on board.
David Pipe expressed delight with Grands Crus after he galloped a circuit of the racecourse with the Tom Bellamy-ridden Zaynar. "He's had a day out just down the road at Exeter, who have been very kind in letting us do it. This will bring him on mentally. It wasn't a strenuous gallop but he's enjoyed himself and he's finished with his ears pricked. But where he goes for the rest of the season is all up for discussion. He doesn't have to go to Cheltenham," said Pipe.
The eight-year-old has Ladbrokes World Hurdle and Ryanair Chase entries at the Festival next week.
Tom Scudamore, who was on Grands Crus, said: "I enjoyed it and he enjoyed it and I'm very happy. He was very enthusiastic and it was good." It is now back to the discussion board for the team as they plot the rest of the season for the former Grade One winner, which may include one of the Festival options.