Oscar rocked by Ballyalton

  • Last Updated: November 30 2013, 16:43 GMT

Oscar Rock's bubble was burst by Ballyalton in the Straightline Construction "The French Furze" Novices' Hurdle.

Oscar Rock: Suffered a surprise defeat
Oscar Rock: Suffered a surprise defeat

Malcolm Jefferson's Oscar Rock was sent off at the prohibitive price of 4/9 and everything appeared to be going smoothly as Brian Hughes moved up alongside Blakemount entering the straight.

However, Tony McCoy was streamlining him on Ballyalton, owned by golfer Lee Westwood's father, John, and a slicker jump at the penultimate flight saw him hit the front.

Hughes got serious with his mount but he did not make any inroads after the last and went down by half a length to the 3/1 chance.

Winning trainer Ian Williams, who is in the middle of a purple patch, said: "That was lovely. He was too keen for the trip, really, as he was a bit fresh. He missed an intended race at Cheltenham so, in effect, he was having his first run of the season again. He's done the job well and he's taken a big scalp there.

"I'm not sure if he's a Cheltenham horse over hurdles but he certainly will be over fences. We'll look at the Challow Hurdle (Grade One at Newbury on December 27). He loves nice ground but he'll handle it soft."

Graham Calder, owner of Oscar Rock, said: "Brian said the ground was just a bit quick for him as he was changing his legs in the straight. If he'd jumped the second last quicker you never know what might have happened. We might look at the Challow next, it's likely to be softer."

Lucinda Russell's Green Flag had earlier stretched his unbeaten record over fences to three with victory in the opening Pin Point Recruitment Novices' Limited Handicap Chase.

The apple of his trainer's eye, the 5/6 favourite may have been forced to work harder in the home straight but for the fall of Streams Of Whiskey at the second-last when the pair were locked in battle.

That was unfortunate for Nicky Richards' charge, who had also come down last time.

In the event, Green Flag, due to turn seven in a few weeks, came home nine lengths clear of Green Wizard in the hands of Peter Buchanan.

"I absolutely love him," said Russell. "He won the French Furze over hurdles on this card last year but while I used to get nervous running him over hurdles, I don't over fences as he was born for the job.

"He was prepared by Colman Sweeney in Ireland and he keeps ringing me asking if I'll run him in an amateur riders' race! I don't know where he'll go next. I'm not afraid to get beaten with him but I'll just try and find a nice race."

Brian Ellison moved on to 98 winners for the calendar year when Presented justified 9/4 favouritism in the Coopers' Marquees Handicap Chase.

The Malton handler has enjoyed his best ever year, highlighted by the exploits of Top Notch Tonto on the Flat.

Ellison has always mixed it in both spheres, though, and Presented went one better than at Hexham on his seasonal reappearance, with James Reveley's partner defeating Twice Lucky by three lengths.

"That's 98 now and if we get stuck on 99 I'll be counting the charity race we won at Wetherby the other day," joked Ellison. "He just jumps and gallops, this lad - that's all he does. James gave him a lovely ride."

Swing Hard (5/1) jumped immaculately to take the Anglo Scottish Handicap Chase.

Ryan Mania fired the five-year-old at the second-last fence and he pulled five lengths clear of Palos Conti.

"He jumps like a gazelle," said trainer Sue Smith. "He started off all right over hurdles then disappointed but he's come back a different horse after a bit of a break."

McCoy and Nicky Henderson teamed up to win the closing novices' hurdle with new recruit Full Shift (8/13 favourite) having won the feature race of the day (click here for the report) with My Tent Or Yours.

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