It was a case of third-time lucky for trainer Ben Case after Themanfrom Minella ground out a resolute success in the Higos Insurance Services Somerset National at Wincanton.
Recent abandonments at Newcastle and Plumpton proved a blessing in disguise for the Edgcote handler, as the nine-year-old put in an assured round of jumping in the three-mile-three-furlong contest to defeat Blameitalonmyroots by two and a half lengths.
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Case said of the 9-2 joint-favourite: "I had him in at Newcastle and that was called off, and I had him in at Plumpton on Monday and that got called off. It is fantastic for me, as today didn't get called off and it was the biggest prize of all three of them and my first National winner. He is improving all the time. He just seems a much stronger horse this season and is seeing out his races better and the blinkers seemed to have helped."
Plans for a shot at more National glory could now be on the cards for the Carolyn Kendrick-owned gelding.
Case added: "I was discussing with the sponsors after the race about the Devon National at Exeter as they also sponsor that, and that could be an option.
"He could be the sort of horse for a Welsh National next season, he loves that really soft ground."
A switch back to hurdles could be on the agenda for The Nipper following her three-and-a-quarter-length success in the Higos Insurance Services Platinum Mares' Handicap Chase, which initiated a double for trainer Warren Greatrex and rider Gavin Sheehan.
Greatrex said of the 6-4 winner: "She is obviously getting better and she jumped very well today. She had plenty of running left in her and is going the right way.
"I might switch her back to hurdles now for the Grade Two mares' race at Doncaster a week on Saturday. It looks likely to be soft and she handles this ground very well."
Taking on board advice from champion jockey Richard Johnson proved to be a wise decision for the Lambourn handler after Savoy Court (14-1) completed his and Sheehan's brace with a 10-length win in the Higos Insurance Somerton Handicap Hurdle.
Greatrex said: "To be fair, Richard Johnson said after Ffos Las to run him in a handicap as he thought he would be fine and he was bang on.
"He surprised me a bit how he did it, but it was probably because he handled the ground better than the others. Gavin was very good on both rides."
Chris Gordon celebrated his first winner of 2018 as Sea Wall opened his account for the campaign when defying top weight in the Higos Insurance Services Yeovil Handicap Hurdle.
Gordon said: "He has run a cracking race and is a good, consistent horse that is great fun for the owners.
"They have been running well and we've hit the bar a few times. It is lovely to have our first winner of the new year."
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