Red repels Newcastle rivals
Trainer Donald McCain and jockey Jason Maguire were out of luck with Cinders And Ashes in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle but still managed a double with Red Rocco and Woodpole Academy.
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Red Rocco gave a sterling front-running performance to land the Cooper's Marquees Novices' Limited Handicap Chase, with Maguire ensuring it was a test over three miles on testing ground.
Red Rocco's main threat in the closing stages was Fentara, but the 5-2 favourite was not for stopping and won by two lengths.
McCain said: "He is very tough. He doesn't really want ground as deep as that, but I suppose few horses do.
"He jumps and stays so he's going to need extreme distances. Hopefully we've got a bit to look forward to."
Woodpole Academy (13-2) took the EBF "National Hunt" Maiden Hurdle (Qualifier) in likeable fashion by five lengths from Lord Wishes.
"He's gone and done that very well. We don't do a lot with him at home because he can be a bit buzzy and that's why we put the ear plugs in," said McCain.
"Hopefully he will go on from this."
Boris The Blade (12-1) made just about all the running as he gamely defied the steadier of 11st 12lb in the SIS Live Handicap Chase.
The Tina Jackson-trained grey showed no signs of race-rustiness after nearly eight months off, under Richie McGrath, as he defeated Shadow Boxer by four and a half lengths.
Jackson said: "That was my first runner of the jumps season and we knew he was very well.
"We haven't any great plans for him but perhaps something like the Eider again (fourth last season) could be a race for him."
Green Flag (9-2) reversed Kelso form with Maggio to take the SLM "The French Furze" Novices' Hurdle.
Lucinda Russell had intended running Green Flag at Carlisle on Sunday but put the five-year-old in at Newcastle after the race was re-opened, in case of weather problems at Carlisle, which was duly abandoned.
Green Flag repaid his trainer's faith with a battling two-and-a-quarter-length success after leading at the third-last.
"He's a lovely big, strong horse who just needs a bit of experience. We'll be looking forward to when he goes over fences," said Russell.
McMurrough (14-1) gave trainer Malcolm Jefferson a winner on his 66th birthday when gaining his first success over fences in the Connor Liam Sadler Handicap Chase.
Even a mistake at the fourth-last fence could not stop the eight-year-old in his tracks as he galloped on stoutly to defeat Whats Up Woody by two and three-quarter lengths.
Jefferson said: "Last year we never really had him right, he never really ate up, but this season he's been doing well in himself and eating well, and he's learning all the time.
"He's not a bad horse, and there may be more improvement in him yet."