Hopes high that the best since Best Mate is back on track after Huntingdon success

Best Mate ridden by Jim Culloty in the 2003 Peterborough Steeple Chase at Huntingdon

Best Mate, ridden by Jim Culloty, on his way to victory in the 2003 Peterborough Steeple Chase at Huntingdon. - Credit: ANDREW PARSONS/PA

The first meeting of the 2021-22 jump season at Huntingdon racecourse could have seen the resurgence of a horse bracketed with a three-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.

Your Darling was described by former trainer Henrietta Knight as the best horse she'd purchased since Best Mate and he got his career back on track with victory in the Racing TV Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.

Jockey Nico de Boinville said of the Ben Pauling-trained 15-8 favourite: “It was really good to see him win again. He has been off a while and he has had a wind op. He is a brilliant jumper as you and he will turn into a nice chaser.

“He had every chance to fold which he would have done when he last ran but he showed a really good attitude and did well to stick his neck out. We are very much back on track.”

There was also a great start to the new year for jockey Tom Cannon as he landed a double.

Only Money, a 100-30 shot, had got the ball rolling with a 24-length win in the Racing TV Handicap Chase over an extended two miles.

Cannon said: “It’s nice to get it on the board as I’ve hit the woodwork a few times.  He just needed the run last time and this was a weaker race but his bumper form was rock solid."

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Cannon, who landed 52 winners last season, then got his second success on board Call Of The Wild.

The Alan King-trained four year old, a half-brother to the yard’s Doncaster Spring Mile and Newbury Spring Cup winner Chatez, put in an eye-catching display to claim a bumper.

Cannon said of the successful 11-4 favourite: “It was very straightforward and he settled well. We didn’t go very quick during the race but he picked up once I committed two out which was good and he galloped right the way through to the line."

Elsewhere there was victory for Wolfspear in another bumper, a flat race for national hunt horses, while the Tom Lacey-trained Forchena defied a 255-day absence to land the Racing TV Mares’ Handicap Hurdle by two lengths.

And leading point-to-point trainer Phil Rowley hopes the 41-length victory secured by Raffle Ticket in the Racing TV “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle is a sign of things to come.