• Racing/
  • Good Hit From Opening Batsman

Racing Plus Chase (Grade 3 Handicap) 3m

  • (5yo+, 3m, Class 1, 13 runners)
  • Winner £56,950 2nd £21,370 3rd £10,700 4th £5,330 5th £2,680 6th £1,340
  • Going: Good, Good to Soft in places
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 6m 5.30s
  • Off time: 15:52:45
  • Last Updated: February 23 2013, 19:48 GMT

Harry Fry's first season as a trainer in his own right took another major step forward as Opening Batsman stole the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton from under the nose of his mentor Paul Nicholls.

Opening Batsman: Big-race success for Harry Fry
Opening Batsman: Big-race success for Harry Fry

Although responsible for last season's Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby, who he prepared from what was Nicholls' satellite yard in Seaborough, the 26-year-old's name is now above the same Dorset premises and this Grade Three event was by some way his biggest success so far.

Still a novice but an evident improver, Opening Batsman (12/1) hugged the inside rail under Noel Fehily and finished the three miles that little more strongly than Nicholls' Rolling Aces, who was there with every chance but was beaten by two lengths.

He was roared back into the winner's enclosure by owners the Twelfth Man Partnership, which includes cricketer Andrew Brassington.

"What a day," said Fry, who is the youngest jumps trainer in the country.

"I thought Noel gave him an amazing ride and he didn't give away an inch from the inside.

"The ground and the track suited him perfectly and I'm so delighted.

"Big winners on a Saturday is what it's all about and for a young team, it shows what we can do in the future.

"He has multiple entries at Cheltenham, but this was the plan and we will enjoy today."

Fry went on: "I wouldn't be where I am without four fantastic years with Paul. He'll be disappointed to be beaten, as we're all competitive, but he was the first to congratulate me."

Nicholls, who was among the first to warmly congratulate Fry, said of his charge: "He's done everything right, but he maybe ran with the choke out a bit and it's cost him at the end. We will maybe look for a novice chase for him at Aintree."

Among the footnotes was the performance of the dashing grey Nacarat, twice a winner and twice more placed in the race.

He made a howling error on the first circuit, eventually finishing last and trainer Tom George announced his immediate retirement.

George said: "That's near enough the first mistake he has ever made and it's his way of telling us he's had enough."

Only able to beat Nacarat home was the 3/1 favourite Wyck Hill, who performed miserably on his debut in the colours of the watching JP McManus.

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