'I have lots of learning to do' - Boreham's 66-1 Lanzarote win shocks Lavelle
The Ladbrokes Lanzarote Hurdle has seldom looked more competitive than this year – and even after the race it caused heads to be scratched with Boreham Bill delivering a 66-1 success trainer Emma Lavelle had not exactly expected.
Ben Jones, victorious for Lavelle aboard De Rasher Counter in last season's Ladbrokes Trophy, was again in the saddle as a horse largely shunned by punters ended up beating his 19 opponents with real authority.
"It has taken me two years to work out I could run him right-handed," said Lavelle. "I probably pigeon-holed him a bit because I also always thought he wanted much better ground. I clearly have a lot of learning to do!
"We came here today because with a horse rated 132 we didn't feel we had too many options. I would be lying if I said I thought we had a sure thing but he has run an absolute corker and galloped all the way home. I think we'll now enjoy this and keep all our options open."
Track specialist Shuffle back on scoresheet
Kempton has always been important to Double Shuffle, who finally got back on the scoresheet just over four years since his last win.
During Christmas 2016, the Tom George stable stalwart won the final race broadcast on Channel 4 when landing a 3m handicap chase at Kempton, subsequently leaving that form well behind 12 months later when finishing second to Might Bite in the King George VI Chase.
That earned him a ratings rise to 166, but it was off a mark of just 140 that the now 11-year-old won for the first time in 1474 days when benefiting from Ami Desbois's final-fence blunder in the 3m handicap chase.
"He loves it around here," said jockey James Bowen. "He was off a good mark and has done it well but the jump at the final fence won me the race, 100 per cent. I was booked for second going down to the last. He's such a good jumper and his jumping helped him out today."
Smarty follows Gunther's lead
The green and white colours of Michael and Norma Tuckey, so often carried with distinction around Kempton by Gunther McBride, made a winning return when donned by the man who wore them to big-race glory here nearly two decades ago.
Kempton devotee Gunther McBride captured the Racing Post Chase in 2002 before finishing second in the following two runnings. Smarty Wild is, as yet, a long way shy of Gunther McBride level but he offered real hope for the future when landing his first race over fences in the 2m4½f handicap chase.
The winner, like the star of Kempton winters past, represents Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson, who said: "The flat track probably helps this lad. He's a big horse but still on the weak side. He had run well twice at Ascot this season and deserved to get his head in front."
Sage on song
Cork maiden winner Sage Advice cost his new connections 65,000gns last autumn but he would probably now fetch a chunk more after making an excellent impression for trainer Richard Newland on his hurdling debut.
Rider Sam Twiston-Davies – whose mount earned a 33-1 JCB Triumph Hurdle quote from Betfair – said: "He took to it well, jumped nicely and relaxed, but what most impressed me was how he quickened up on holding ground."