Exeter © Photo Healy Racing
Tom Lacey’s Absolute Steel caused a 200-1 upset at Exeter in the Trustatrader Apply Today British Studs EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle and dented the previously unbeaten record of Lowry’s Bar in the process.
Stan Sheppard set out to make all on the five-year-old, who was tailed off at a similar price on his hurdling debut at Chepstow.
With Lowry’s Bar looking for a fifth straight success as a long odds-on favourite, it looked a matter of when, rather than if he would reel in the long-time leader, but in testing conditions, he was making very heavy weather of it.
Absolute Steel showed the odd quirk or two at his hurdles but clearly possesses an engine, as when the favourite did get on terms after the last, he was just idling before he picked up again to win by a length and a half.
“I didn’t think he was as bad as his last run at Chepstow, his first over hurdles, but I was actually relatively happy with his first run in his bumper at Market Rasen,” Sheppard told Racing TV.
“I know he finished last (of five) but he wasn’t beaten overly far, we didn’t go fast and he just stayed going at the same speed.
“I’d say today, the favourite might have underperformed, but while I’m surprised, I’m not that surprised.
“He had a good look at the first three hurdles in the home straight but running to the last, I was thinking if the favourite comes by me within five strides of the line, I might not get back by him – but when he came at me, he picked up well again.”
Only three went to post in the Trustatrader Approved And Reviewed Trades People Novices’ Chase but punters who stuck to the old mantra of backing the outsider were rewarded when Crebilly came with a late run.
The betting suggested it would be tight between Paul Nicholls’ Grade One-winning novice hurdler Tahmuras and Kim Bailey’s Trelawne, fitted with cheekpieces after his wayward second at Wetherby in the Grade Two Towton.
It was those two who were to the fore throughout, with Jonjo O’Neill jnr happy to take a lead, intent on getting his mount jumping better after an error-strewn display at Cheltenham last time out.
Trelawne was first off the bridle but kept on responding to David Bass, but Tahmuras initially looked to have done enough when jumping into a clear lead at the last, only to hang to his left.
That gave Crebilly the opportunity to come with a run and Jonjo O’Neill’s charge obliged at 5-2.
The winning rider said: “A clear round was what we were hoping for today. He was unfortunate at Cheltenham in November (fell) and he didn’t jump well back there last time out.
“It probably knocked his confidence a little bit, so a three-runner race on heavy ground, you couldn’t ask for any more.
“It was quite hard work and they maybe got a bit tired in front, so the race might have fallen apart after the last, but it was a nice race to win.”
Nicholls introduced a nice prospect in the Trustatrader Open Maiden National Hunt Flat Race with smooth scorer Teeshan.
The five-year-old won his sole point to point in Ireland by 41 lengths and made an impressive debut under Rules in the pink and blue colours of Johnny de la Hey.
Harry Cobden was always sitting comfortably on the 10-11 favourite and only had to keep him focussed to prevail by seven lengths.
Teeshan was cut to 6-1 from 14-1 for the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham by Betfair and helped Cobden to draw level with Sean Bowen in the title race on 121 winners for the season.