Fox too cunning for rivals as he makes a flying start for Tizzard
Fox Norton made a silky smooth transition from handicaps to score a stylish nine-length victory in a Shloer Chase marred by the fatal fall of Simonsig.
This impressive Grade 2 performance earned the Colin Tizzard-trained rising star a quote of 100-30 (from 6) for the Tingle Creek Chase with sponsor Betfair.
The retirement of Sprinter Sacre has left the door open for a top-notch two-mile chaser to emerge from Britain and do battle with Douvan - and perhaps Fox Notion is the one.
He was 11 lengths behind Douvan in the Racing Post Arkle and 32 lengths in arrears at Aintree, but this seems to be a different Fox Norton to the one we saw at the spring festivals.
The improving six-year-old made a mockery of his mark when scooting clear to win a handicap at Cheltenham's October fixture off 146, but there was more substance to this performance. He always looked like winning under a confident Aidan Coleman and put the race to bed very quickly on the home turn. This was solid stuff.
Tizzard was keen to deflect all the praise on to Neil Mulholland. It was only this month that Fox Norton was snapped up by Alan Potts and switched stables.
"I'm delighted and slightly embarrassed,” said Tizzard. “This is all down to Neil Mulholland. We just put him in the system for a fortnight and have done nothing with him. He's just a very good horse. That's what we were hoping we were buying, and we can see that already.
“We saw him here at the last meeting when he absolutely coasted up, and again on level weights today with these good horses he's done the same. He's a beautiful young horse. He just travelled and jumped."
He was cut generally into 7-1 (from 20) second favourite for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, behind only Douvan, who is now odds-on, the price changes strongly affected by the retirement of Sprinter Sacre.
“The Tingle Creek is where horses like him normally go, and that's what we'll do" added Tizzard. "Two-milers you can run a bit more often than three-and-a-half-milers."
For Coleman it was the icing on top of a very tasty cake, of which the main ingredient was Saturday's last-gasp success on Taquin Du Seuil in the BetVictor Gold Cup.
“It's been a wonderful two days., I'll certainly go to sleep happy tonight,” said Coleman with a smile that might last until Christmas.
He added: “Fox Norton is very good. He just jumped and travelled brilliantly. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. He's definitely one for the big two-mile races now.”
Runner-up Simply Ned did what Simply Ned usually does. He is remarkably consistency and thoroughly likeable, if often finding one or two too good.
Proud trainer Nicky Richards said: “He never lets us down. He's very consistent and has run a very good race. The plan is to go to Leopardstown again [for the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase] and we'll see how we go over there."