Fox Norton emerges as Triumph possible
A review of Saturday's meeting at Doncaster where Fox Norton emerged as a possible Triumph Hurdle contender.
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Fox Norton just held off the late challenge of Broughton to lift the Grade Two BetVictor Summit Juvenile Hurdle.
The Nick Williams-trained winner was having just his third start over obstacles and was aiming to reverse recent form with Royal Irish Hussar, having lost out by a neck at Market Rasen in September.
The Henderson runner, who came into the contest as one of the leading fancies for the Triumph, was sent off the 4/6 favourite but the distress signals were out two flights from home as Royal Irish Hussar began to toil and Fox Norton kicked on.
Broughton, who was having his first hurdles start for John Ferguson, went off in pursuit and the ex-Flat racer's speed looked certain to come into play on the long run to the line.
However, Fox Norton dug deep for Fehily, driving to the line to finish a head in front of Broughton.
Williams said: "I couldn't understand the betting to be honest. We were 8lb better off with Nicky's horse and he only beat us narrowly at Market Rasen.
"We won't rush him this year, he may run again before the Triumph or he may not, we might not even run him in the Triumph at all.
"Someone mentioned the Supreme but he isn't qualified for that having won in France in April.
"He's a lovely horse, there's plenty of size and scope about him."
Ferguson said of the runner-up: "I've saddled some nice winners at Doncaster but that has given me more pleasure than any of them.
"I think we'll have some fun with him."
Timesishard bounced back from a disappointing run at Chepstow seven days ago to win the BetVictor.com Interactive Handicap Hurdle.
Graeme McPherson's six-year-old, who was highly-tried as a novice against the likes of Two Rockers and The New One, finished 11th of 13 in Wales last weekend.
However, back on a flatter track and on a sounder surface, he was always travelling like the winner for Wayne Hutchinson.
Backed from 16/1 into 12/1 just before the off, he saw off the front-running Corkage by six lengths.
McPherson said: "I was so disappointed with him last week, he was beaten after a mile, though, so we knew that wasn't his running.
"He was in cracking form at home and we had him checked out and found nothing, so we took a chance.
"The better ground and flatter track suited and on this good ground, I think it will be hard to come from off the pace.
"Wayne said he's still immature and when he becomes a man he'll be a proper horse over fences."
Warden Hill got back to winning ways for Mick Channon in the crownhotel-bawtry.com Novices' Hurdle.
Sent off the 13/8 favourite, despite finishing only eighth last time out, admittedly in a decent handicap at Cheltenham - he relished the step up to three miles.
Dominic Elsworth asked him to challenge long-time leader Drop Out Joe fully three furlongs from home and the pair were in a protracted duel all the way up the long home straight into a strong headwind.
A photograph was called as they flashed past the post but the winning distance was half a length.
"I was hopeful the step up in trip would suit him and it has," said Elsworth.
"He's a nice horse and he'll be even better when he goes chasing.
"I attacked Noel (Fehily on Drop Out Joe) earlier than I wanted, but he'd had an easy lead so my hand was forced."
Karinga Dancer made a winning debut over fences in the Macmillan Novices' Chase but he was lucky to survive an incident at the third-last fence.
Noel Fehily had just moved his mount out to challenge when Woodbank fell, nearly bringing down the 4/5 favourite.
Having missed the flailing legs, Harry Fry's smart hurdler, who warmed to his task, just had to jump the last two fences to collect.
He was pulling himself up in front, allowing Princely Player to close to within three and three-quarter lengths.
"I'm very pleased, it's job done," said Fry.
"Thankfully Noel angled out just when he did, otherwise it would have been game over. Jumping is the name of the game.
"His got better as he warmed up and I've no fancy plans for him, I'll just look for a similar race with a penalty."
Makari (8/1), who disappointed slightly when fancied for a decent prize at Ascot last time out, regained the winning thread in the DFS Supports Macmillan Handicap Hurdle.
Nicky Henderson's six-year-old had won twice earlier in the season, at Ludlow and Huntingdon, but this rated as a career-best by some distance.
Covered up by Andrew Tinkler for much of the contest, he was produced at the last and jumped alongside Purple Bay before pulling a length clear.
"Ascot probably came a bit too soon for him," said Tinkler.
"Even though he won twice on the bridle, he's a horse who puts a lot into his races.
"We gave him a break and it's done him good. He'll jump a fence into time, too."
Night In Milan went one place better than last year as he lifted the BetVictor Handicap Chase.
Keith Reveley's charge lost out by just a nose to Court By Surprise last year but he made no mistake this time in the hands of the trainer's son, James.
Always in the front rank, Night In Milan (8/1) produced a series of spectacular leaps but could not shake off the challenge of De Boitron.
That one looked to have claimed a decisive advantage when Night In Milan made a mistake at the penultimate obstacle, but Reveley's charge renewed his challenge on the run to the last.
A quick leap there saw him edge back in front and he powered away to win by six lengths.
"We'll come back here in January for the Sky Bet Chase," said Reveley.
"The only thing is he might not get as easy a lead as that is a more competitive race."
James Reveley added: "His jumping won him it. He was spectacular. I think we just outstayed the other horse."