George champions Big Society
Big Society (6/5f) took the first race of the year in Great Britain under a resolute ride from Paddy Brennan.
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Given the testing conditions, the field raced at a predictably cautious pace but favourite backers could have been forgiven for having a few palpitations as Tom George's gelding looked to be struggling some way out.
Staying looks to be his forte though, and having been rushed through to take the lead at the second last, he stayed on doggedly to fend off the attentions of Phone Home.
Xaarcet (7/2) claimed the Bathwick Tyres Plymouth Handicap Hurdle for Colin Tizzard and Ryan Mahon.
The victory was not coming out of turn as the six-year-old had finished second over course-and-distance last month.
The trainer had to settle for second in the Royal Castle Beginners' Chase as Buddy Bolero (4/1) overhauled Theatrical Star as they went to the final fence.
Storm Alert (9/4f) has some way to go to live up to the exploits of his David Nicholson' trained namesake but Sue Gardner's six-year-old continued his progression up the ranks with victory in the Billy Williams Memorial Novices' Handicap Hurdle.
The success was the first leg of a 20/1 double as Flying Award followed up a recent victory at Bangor.
The market suggested that Hawkes Point (5/6f) and Gullinbursti would fight out the Bathwick Tyres Taunton Novices' Chase and so it proved on the course.
Both horses produced fine rounds of jumping and Paul Nicholls inmate got the better of the argument close home.
Brendan Powell reached his 500th winner as a trainer on New Year's Eve and he registered success number 501 as Guanciale (6/1) ran away with the bumper.