Huntingdon winner Ajero continuing his rise to being the next big thing for Kim Bailey
- Credit: ALAN CROWHURST/PA
Ajero lived up to the pre-race hype as he strolled to victory in the feature race at Huntingdon.
The Kim Bailey-trained mount made it four wins from four outings as he came home eight and a half lengths clear of Haafapiece in the Racing TV Handicap Hurdle.
He had tasted defeat on his debut over hurdles at the Cambridgeshire track in September, but the gelding, a half-brother to the yard’s now retired Grade Two Peterborough Chase winner, Charbel, took another significant step forward with a stylish success in the two-mile feature.
Bailey, who trained 1989 Grand National winner Mr Frisk, said: “That was exactly what I wanted to see and I was really pleased with him.
"The big thing was that he didn’t appear to hang right-handed like he has done before.
"It was quite nice to see him relaxed as he has been a little bit free in his races but it has all been about gaining experience and going softly with him.
"He has come forward a lot since Harry Cobden rode him that first day over hurdles at the track when he basically climbed over everything."
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The trainer now believes that the Scottish Champion Hurdle would be the perfect next step.
He said: "I think we will have to try him left-handed. I don’t think Aintree is the place to go for him but I’ve made an entry for him in the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr and there is the possibility of going to Punchestown as well.”
The most popular winner of the day came in the last-race bumper
Doddiethegreat is named after Scottish rugby union great Doddie Weir, who is suffering from motor neurone disease and who has set up his own charity to help others in the same situation.
And owner Kenny Alexander has said that any prize money won by the five-year-old would be donated to the My Name'5 Doddie Foundation.
Both trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Nico de Boinville also donated their share of the winnings from the Racing TV-sponsored contest.
De Boinville said: “It’s a great cause and Kenny Alexander the owner has named him after a great man. I think he is a fantastic advert for it.
“He is a fantastic horse as it is not easy for horses to win bumpers under penalties. The boss gave me free rein and he said if there was no pace to let him stride on as he has got a massive stride so you might as well use it.
"The main thing was to get him through his bumpers and educate him.”
Elsewhere jockey Nathan Brennan enjoyed a day to remember after securing the first double of his career.
Torrent Des Mottes got the ball rolling for with a third course win in the Thank You & Happy Retirement Matthew Tong Handicap Chase before he added a comfortable 10-length success aboard Emmas Dilemma in the Racing TV Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.
A patient approach proved key for jockey Colm McCormack who ended his 142 day wait for a winner when steering the Philip Kirby-trained Wye Aye from last to first to collect the Racing TV Novices’ Handicap Chase by three and a quarter lengths.
He said: “He is a quirky horse. You have to just drop him in and ride him cold and switch him off but he has got a bit of ability. It is just about getting it right on the day."