Eclair Surf put in an admirable staying performance to run his rivals into the ground in the Agetur UK Ltd Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick.
The eight-year-old was given a bold, front-running ride by Tom Bellamy, as trainer Emma Lavelle claimed a second success in this stamina test over three miles and five furlongs after Shotgun Paddy in 2014.
Eclair Surf (11/1) jumped well, making only one mistake at the 22 fences, and never looked like stopping.
Chirico Vallis kept him company, but Eclair Surf pulled away before the home turn to score by 13 lengths.
Gericault Roque, the 7/2 favourite, could not got close enough to challenge and was nearly caught for second place by a rallying Chirico Vallis (33/1). Corach Rambler, the top-weight, went past beaten horses to claim fourth spot.
Lavelle said: “He was meant to go to Cheltenham on New Year’s Day and I was absolutely gutted when he came in from the field lame and couldn’t go.
“Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long for this race. We know he can gallop, but jumping has always been an issue.
“In truth he’s a good jumper but is always capable of belting one. It keeps Tom on his toes, that’s for sure.
“With that in mind I don’t think he’s a National horse, certainly not this year, but he might be one for the Scottish National. He needs a bit of cut and that race is earlier this year.
“We won this with Shotgun Paddy and that was our first really big handicap win and Barry (Fenton, partner) got quite emotional. He’s done a lot of work with this lad, too, so it will mean a lot.
“He’s a tricky horse so it’s a big ‘thank you’ to Barry really. His ability has never been in doubt, he just has his thing of throwing in a shocker. I knew Tom wanted to be handy today and that was a good idea.”
It is the first feature race Lavelle and Bellamy have won since teaming up, and the trainer was full of praise for her jockey.
“Tom is a massive team player which is great for us and when he’s riding, yes he’s thinking about the day, but he’s also thinking about the next day and the next day,” said Lavelle.
“It’s working really well and going the right way.”
For Bellamy it was a noteworthy success.
“This means a lot, it’s certainly the biggest win we’ve had together, a £100,000 handicap,” he said.
“I wanted to be positive and see where we ended up. At one point he nearly ran away with me, which wasn’t ideal over this trip, but he does stay well.
“I’m sure he just likes to throw a dodgy leap in to keep me on my toes, but apart from one today he jumped great. It was a pleasure.”