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Veteran staying chaser Samlee earned a tilt at next month's Scottish National with a dour performance under Tony McCoy to take the Tote Haldon National Chase Showcase Handicap at Exeter this afternoon.

Philip Hobbs's 11-year-old answered all of the champion jockey's urgings to keep up the gallop in the stamina-sapping three and three-quarter mile contest and stretch 25 lengths clear of Bally Lira who snatched the runner-up spot from Folly Road in the dying strides.

Samlee had not won for over two years and Hobbs admitted: "He ran badly at Cheltenham over the New Year when beaten a long way so we decided to give him a good break and bring him back but if he had run badly today we would have retired him.

"But he will now go for the Scottish National and probably won't run before that as he seems to need a bit of time between races.

"He was second in the Scottish race three years ago and was also second in the Grand National the following year but we did not enter him for Aintree this time," added the trainer.

Andrew Thornton gave up his remaining ride of the afternoon after complaining of a sore shoulder following a fall from Flippance in that race.

McCoy had earlier initiated a 17-1 double when Martin Pipe's Manx Magic regained the winning thread with an authoritative victory over Handyman for the Frank Dodd Novices' Hurdle after taking the initiative at the ninth flight.

"He's entered in the Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham next week and if his owner wants him to run there and he's all right after this he could go," declared Pipe.

Dashing Dollar sprang a 40-1 surprise in the Draglink 2000 Handicap Hurdle after getting the better of Quickswood by seven lengths on his first outing for Dulverton-based permit holder James Payne.

The nine-year-old was Payne's first visit to the winner's circle for over 12 months but kept up the champion amateur claims of Paul Flynn who was partnering his 39th success of the term. The promising Irishman intends turning professional for summer jumping.

Timmy Murphy was seen at his best aboard Crookedstone, trained by his old boss Kim Bailey, in the Raleigh Gilbert Memorial Novices' Chase run in memory of the late racecourse commentator.

Taking the lead approaching four out, Crookedstone proceeded to stretch eight lengths away from Hidden Valley.

Bailey said he is likely to have two representatives at the Cheltenham Festival - Supreme Chance, who will take in one of the handicap chases, and Hayaain in the Ladbroke Casinos Final (Handicap Hurdle).

Rod Millman was full of praise for rookie amateur Greg Richards after the teenager had got King Of Mommur home by a short head from Karratha for the Exeter Racecourse Conference Centre Amateur Riders' Novices' Hurdle.

The trainer said of the 18-year-old, who was partnering his first winner under Rules after notching up four successes between the flags: "He's a hard-working lad who could make the grade as he did nothing wrong there."

Journeyman jockey Vince Slattery does not always get the chances he deserves but did nothing wrong aboard Remember Star, who made much of the running to land the Chagford Mares' Only Selling Handicap Hurdle at the expense of Thatcham Island.