Chepstow plan for easy Carlisle winner
Donald McCain is to weigh up a crack at the Coral Welsh National with Across The Bay after his stylish victory in the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Graduation Chase at Carlisle.
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A smart dual-purpose performer when trained in Ireland by Noel Meade, he had been campaigned exclusively over hurdles since joining McCain for the start of last season.
But switched back to the bigger obstacles and racing against Grand National fourth Cappa Bleu, who will have pleased his trainer Evan Williams in second, albeit 28 lengths adrift, Across The Bay (10/11 favourite) jumped with aplomb.
The eight-year-old made virtually every yard under Jason Maguire.
"We went back over fences not knowing how he'd take to it having had a bit of a fright in the Irish National," said McCain on Racing UK.
"The owners had some great days at Cheltenham and Aintree last season but he's definitely going the right way.
"He jumps, he gallops, he stays and he's got a grand way about him.
"We were schooling him over fences even though he was running over hurdles. What I will say is that he possibly enjoys a small field but that's to be found out further down the line.
"You can't knock him, he's doing everything right at the moment.
"The Welsh National has to be on our minds. I hadn't really looked beyond today to be honest but he has to be in calculations as he goes on the ground and stays all day."
McCain and Maguire doubled up with Kruzhlinin (10/11 favourite) in the Join Now At rewards4racing.com Beginners' Chase but were denied a treble when Lucinda Russell's No Deal (7/2) beat their Cloud Creeper in the closing bumper.
Another Irish import impressed in the Christmas Parties At Carlisle Racecourse Novices' Hurdle as Morning Royalty (5/1) scooted clear inside the final furlong.
A smart horse in bumpers for Willie Mullins, he was bought to join Jimmy Moffatt but disappointed on his debut for the yard at Hexham.
However, he left that performance well behind with a stylish display, beating Imjoeking by 10 lengths.
Moffatt said: "I'm pleased for the owners as they've been loyal supporters to me and Dad before me.
"He's very keen and a month before Hexham we worked him and he lit up like a firework. Because of that we brought him along quietly and at Hexham he wasn't quite straight - I held my hands up - and also the ground was a foot deep.
"We still haven't galloped him but obviously he's come on a nice bit. He's a nice horse.
"We'll look for a routine that keeps him settled and as he jumped slightly left today we might look for a race that way round in four or five weeks."
Mitchell's Way (10/1) showed aptitude for a battle in the Leaping For Lifestyle Fitness Novices' Handicap Hurdle.
Snowed Inn appeared to be travelling better throughout but Fearghal Davis drove Alan Swinbank's charge out to a three-quarter length win.
"He's got a good attitude and he stays well. I rode him handy and just kept on kicking," said Davis.
"He tries hard for you and once they do that it's half the battle.
"As yet we haven't schooled him over fences, just hurdles, but I'm sure fences won't be problem to him. He jumps great and I'll be looking forward to him when he goes chasing.
"I told his owners just then that whatever he does over hurdles is a bonus."
Course specialist Royal Mackintosh (6/1) landed his fifth win at the track in the Watch Racing UK On Sky432 Handicap Chase.
Alan Mactaggart's 11-year-old has only ever won at Carlisle and jumped well for Brian Harding.
Whats Up Woody (4/1) gave John Wade his first winner of the season in the Border City Handicap Chase.