Epatante brightens Henderson's fortunes after Listed Newbury romp
Buveur D'Air's shock defeat in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle was sweetened considerably for Nicky Henderson as Epatante stormed home to make it a 1-2-3 in the Listed Intermediate Hurdle.
Sent off the favourite for last season's mares' novice hurdle at Cheltenham, the five-year-old could only finish ninth there but swiftly made amends when storming clear of stablemate French Crusader.
Partnered by Aidan Coleman, JP McManus's classy mare took up the lead from two out and, despite an awkward error at the second-last, produced an eyecatching turn of foot to put six lengths between herself and the field.
Henderson said: "She was impressive and the second horse is no mug – nor is the third, actually.
"Epatante seems to have been favourite for the race all week but I rather fancied Elusive Belle. Epatante has really quickened up very well. She has some toe."
Reserve Tank misfires as Danny whizzes up in Grade 2 shock
Danny Whizzbang took the scalp of odds-on favourite Reserve Tank with a taking performance in the Grade 2 John Francome Novices' Chase.
The Paul Nicholls-trained runner was patiently ridden by Harry Cobden as Reserve Tank jumped markedly to his left up front and never looked entirely convincing.
As Reserve Tank and the Dan Skelton-trained Ardlethen battled for the lead turning in, the lightly raced six-year-old was encouraged to close and soon hit the front to strike by four lengths.
Nicholls said: "That surprised me. I thought we were chucking him in at the deep end and that he would need the run, so he must be good. I expected him to finish third here and improve for the experience – and he will improve massively.
"Harry said he felt like a hunter through the race but then he turned into the straight and took off."
On Reserve Tank, rider Robbie Power said afterwards: "He felt very flat today and I know he is an awful lot better than that. We also know he is better in the spring, so he'll probably have a break now."
Betfair introduced Danny Whizzbang as a 16-1 chance for the RSA Novices' Chase at Cheltenham in March.
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