Magical McCoy shines on Mirage
Tony McCoy produced a typically determined ride to get favourite backers off to a winning start with Goodwood Mirage at Kempton.
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The Green Ogre, a 33/1 outsider, looked home and hosed when he landed over the final flight with a handy advantage while Goodwood Mirage, the 6/4 market leader, had bungled his way through the last two obstacles of the William Hill In The App Store Juvenile Hurdle.
But the former William Knight-trained four-year-old demonstrated his Flat speed under a powerful drive from the champion jockey to get up in the shadow of the post and snatch a short-head verdict. Grey Blue was seven lengths away in third place.
Goodwood Mirage, a 380,000 guineas purchase for the Jonjo O'Neill stable in the autumn, was installed at 25/1 in Sky Bet's betting for the Triumph Hurdle, sponsored by JCB, whose chairman Lord Bamford owns the horse along with his wife.
"There's a lot of talk about his price tag but he doesn't know how much he cost," said the trainer. "He's a lovely, kind horse and we haven't had to have him cut [gelded].
"He has jumped well from the start and he can only come on for this experience."
He added: "I told Lady Bamford he'd win the Triumph Hurdle if she bought him, so I hope I'm right!
"I expect he'll be back here next month for the Adonis.
"He had very good form on the Flat and he's a lovely looking horse. I'm amazed he was so keen, as he's not like that at home."
A step back up to two and a half miles brought about a change in fortunes for the veteran King Edmund at 25/1 in the William Hill - Download The App Handicap Chase.
Chris Gordon's 11-year-old had not scored since last April, but given a patient ride by Tom Cannon he sneaked into contention to burst in front in the home straight, although Ice 'N' Easy pressed him hard in the closing stages and was only beaten by half a length at the line.
"He deserved that," said Gordon. "I think stepping up a bit helped as he probably doesn't have the speed for two miles any more, and the handicapper had finally given him a chance."
Planet Of Sound (10/1) beat both War Of Attrition and Denman in his finest hour, and at the age of 12 he bravely defied Jump City by two lengths in the William Hill - Bet On The Move Handicap Chase.
"He needs better ground and they've been waiting and waiting with him," said Johnson.
"He had to have a run, and I suppose the big chase here next month and things like Scottish Nationals could be for him."
Johnson had an easy time on the Emma Lavelle-trained Closing Ceremony (10/11 favorite) in the williamhill.com Novices' Hurdle.
The 10/11 favourite wandered around the track at times, but had already shown promise, particularly when runner-up on his penultimate start at Chepstow, and was never really challenged.
Lavelle said: "He's just green - the birds flew up out of the lake along the back and he had plenty of time to look at them.
"Last time, the ground was just bottomless at Ffos Las. His full brother is Highland Lodge, who stays all day."
Barry Geraghty scored on 5/2 favourite Lyvius in the William Hill - Download The App Handicap Hurdle, the pair just outbattling the strong-travelling Deep Trouble in the final strides.