SARAH Humphrey believes Nickle Back demonstrated his star quality at Warwick after running out an emphatic winner of the Save Business Rates With Colliers’ Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.
Since running out a 30-length winner of a novices’ hurdle at Fontwell in October 2021 little had gone right for the seven-year-old gelding in four subsequent starts.
However, following a 406-day break he put that right in taking fashion on his first start over fences.
Assuming his customary front running role the 11-2 chance barely put a foot wrong under James Best to open up a commanding lead round the home turn of two-and-a-half-mile contest.
Despite slightly faltering at the last, the gelded son of Mustameet cruised home by 24 lengths from fellow chasing debutant Kandoo Kid.
Humphrey said: “I’m absolutely over the moon. He is a very quirky individual. He has had all sorts of problems, but most of them have been self-inflicted. We have spent a long time getting him to behave.
“We did various things and we tried to get him to settle in behind, but I said to James (Best), who had ridden him work and schooled him, that jumping is his biggest asset and that hopefully with a fence in front of him he won’t be too gung ho.
“I said just let him get in a lovely rhythm and bowl along and it worked.
“He has matured believe it or not. He is not a runaway anymore, but he likes to get on with it. He has got a high cruising speed and if he gets into a lovely rhythm and jumps then the jockey is not fighting with him and today it has all fallen into place.
“We will have to go to some of the bigger meetings now. We will just make sure he is fine at home first in the morning. I don’t think he is just one for flat tracks, and he has no problem going left or right-handed.”
Owner John Neild believes Josh The Boss could be the horse to help bring him back to the big days after running out a wide margin winner of the Hazelton Mountford Insurance Brokers Maiden Hurdle in the hands of his son.
It is six years since Neild’s former pride and joy Splash Of Ginge won what is now the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
And the enthusiastic owner feels the four year old, who like Splash Of Ginge is trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, could reach similar heights in time.
Sent straight into the lead the 6-1 chance galloped his rivals into submission in the two miles five-furlong prize after crossing the line 19 lengths clear of runner-up Rockstown Native before parting company with winning rider Jamie Nield yards after the winning post.
Neild said: “To be honest ever since Willy (Twiston-Davies) broke him in we thought he might be the one to bring us back to the big days. This is only a fraction of what he is capable of.
“It is hard to get back to where we were, but this could be the one that helps us cling on to that dream.
“We will give him another small run in a novice with a penalty to give both him and Jamie some more experience.
“Jamie is not very happy with himself after falling off after the line as he has got a bit of a cut lip. It has been a long time between drinks, but it is horses like this you do it for.”
Neild and Twiston-Davies both enjoyed further success after Bagheera Ginge, of the Gingearmy Racing syndicate, finally opened his account over fences when getting the better of Opening Bid by three and a quarter lengths in the Join Racing TV Now Handicap Chase.
Twiston Davies said of the 3-1 winner: “I’m chuffed to bits as he has run well all summer except for his last run.
“Nothing came to light for that effort but we freshened him up and gave him a bit of a break. It was a case of it probably coming a bit soon after his previous run.
“It’s great for John, who is also part of this syndicate, to have a double.”
Emma Lavelle hailed the victory of Flight Of Freedom as a ‘great result’ after the daughter of Getaway carried the silks of The Jockey Club’s Cheltenham & South West Racing Club to glory by eight and a half lengths in the opening racingtv.com Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
Lavelle said of the successful 9-4 Favourite: “I’m absolutely thrilled to do this on a Jockey Club track as she is Jockey Club-owned. She was just very keen in her races last season. Her first bumper run was good then it didn’t quite go to plan after that. She jumped beautifully today.
“It is a great result all round as the team at home have done such a great job. She is just bigger and stronger this season and she is much more rideable.
“Last season she was very keen but this season she is more relaxed and is just learning how to race. I was quite impressed with her today as I know she will improve on that.
“Tom (Bellamy) said she probably wants a bit further than two miles in time, but she loves her jumping and she has a little bit of class.”