The star attraction at Huntingdon Racecourse yesterday survived a series of scares to claim victory.
Cheltenham Festival winner Willoughby Court made a successful chasing debut when taking the Premier League Betting At 188Bet Novices’ Chase.
Trained by Ben Pauling, Willoughby Court led throughout the two miles, four furlongs contest despite a number of jumping errors.
He was joined by runner-up Casablanca Mix and third-placed The Unit going over the final fence, but the 2/5 odds-on favourite eventually triumphed by one-and-a-quarter lengths under jockey Nico de Boinville in his first outing over fences.
“There are a lot of positives to be taken,” trainer Pauling told Racing UK. “I think there is a huge amount improvement to come and, in all honesty, that is a good thing.”
The success of Willoughby Court completed a double for the trainer and jockey partnership after Equus Secretus took the Brian Martin Wood Chip Animal Bedding Novices’ Hurdle at 5/2 little more than an hour earlier.
Willoughby Court was one of four market leaders to taste success during the six-race Brian Martin Pallets Annual Beer Festival Raceday card.
Ascendant (ridden by Sean Houlihan for trainer Johnny Farrelly) was another odds-on victory in the opening Brian Martin Pallets Wood Chipping Claiming Hurdle over two miles, while the second race – the bandmpalletsupplies.co.uk Juvenile Hurdle - went to evens favourite Speedo Boy. He was steered to victory by jockey Tom O’Brien for trainer Ian Williams.
Salto Chisco eased clear of long-time leader Lord Ben to land the Brian Martin Pallets Macer Gifford Handicap Chase. The 9/4 favourite cruised home by four-and-a-half lengths under jockey Harry Bannister for trainer Harry Whittington.
The biggest-priced winner of the day arrived in the longest race. Night Generation triumphed at odds of 7/1 in the closing Melbourne Cup Betting at 188Bet Handicap Hurdle over three miles, one furlong for jockey Tom Cannon and trainer Chris Gordon.
The next fixture at Huntingdon is on Tuesday (November 14) when the track stages its Michaelmas Hurdle Day.
A six-race card – featuring the title contest – gets underway at 1.10pm and adult tickets are available at £10 in advance or £15 on the day. Accompanied children under the age of 17 are admitted free.
Tickets can be bought at http://huntingdon.thejockeyclub.co.uk or by calling 0844 579 3007.