Shang Tang was too good for his rivals in the Coral "Fail To Finish" Free Bet Novices' Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday afternoon.
Emma Lavelle's six-year-old came into the race a maiden from eight starts but had some good hurdling form to his name including a run behind Chantry House last season.
He'd had wind surgery in the off-season and came on for his reappearance third at Wetherby where he was beaten by Arrivederci last month.
It developed into a two-horse race in the straight as Shang Tang and Paul Nicholls' Southfield Harvest went toe to toe, but Lavelle's charge quickened away late on under James Bowen, thanks in part to a fluent leap at the last, to win by three lengths.
Lavelle said: “He has always been a bit immature. He left home in the horse box facing forwards and he arrived at the racecourse facing backwards. That’s kind of him.
“He was jumping the hurdles so fast I was thinking maybe I should have gone back to two miles, but actually he is a strong-travelling, great-jumping horse that seems to stay and that opens up a world of opportunity for him.
“He had run some really nice races and if you look at his form there are bits of it that are decent, but it just hasn’t happened for him. I think everyone will have gained confidence today.”
Demachine powers to victory
Kerry Lee's Demachine looks a rapid improver after defying a 10lb rise for his Uttoxeter win in the Play The Coral "Racing Super Series" Novices' Limited Handicap Chase.
The six-year-old came into this rated 132 on just his second chase start and the 11/4 favourite looks potentially smart after dismissing these rivals with a polished performance.
Young Bull gave him most to think about on 12lb better terms than when they met at Uttoxeter, but that pull at the weights couldn't help him reverse the form and he was three and three quarter lengths in arrears at the line.
Lee said: “Fences have really been the making of him. I minded him last year and I called him the big green machine at home last season. Lovely Herefordshire grass has done him the world of good over the summer.
“He has grown and matured and we have a right nice novice chaser on our hands. Richard (Patrick) said he did make a mistake at the first one down the hill second time round, but it made him stop and think about things – it did him the world of good.
“We will keep him in novice company this season and maybe a Welsh National or Ladbrokes Trophy next year.
“For now we will enjoy the moment.”
Andrews excels on Gold winner
Bridget Andrews produced Robin Gold with ice-cool precision to land the Veolia Mares' Handicap Hurdle in style.
With two flights to go Robin Gold was last of the six in contention but Andrews was always confident and she didn't move a muscle as she steered Dan Skelton's seven-year-old up the stands' rail for a silky half-length victory.
Midnightreflection ran well in second, but she was mugged by the stealthy winner just before the line.
Assistant trainer Tom Messenger said: “Bridget gave her an unbelievable ride. She won on her a couple of starts ago at Lingfield and knows that she doesn’t do a lot in front and that was the case the last day when she got beat.
“Dan and Bridget were adamant about not getting there too soon, but to ride a mare like that takes a lot of confidence. She is progressing nicely and obviously handles that ground as well.
“The tongue tie has helped and we’ve done a few different things at home. Sometimes these fillies take a little bit of working out.”
Wonderwall takes top spot
Richard Spencer has high hopes for Wonderwall (3/1 jt-fav) who gained a hard-fought success in the Coral Supporting Prostate Cancer UK Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
An expensive three-year-old purchase, the son of Yeats was well backed ahead of his racecourse bow and didn't disappoint although James Bowen did have to get serious to see off the challenge of Hamilton's Fantasy.
The winning trainer Richard Spencer confirmed the performance was 'expected' and said: "He did a really good bit of work at Nottingham a few weeks ago. He's a nice horse.
"I thought a long time ago he was a good horse but with the lockdown and everything we've had to put him away.
"The further he goes, the better he goes. It was good."
As for plans, Wonderwall could come back to Ascot for a Listed race but Spencer has made clear how highly they regard the winner by nominating a certain race at Cheltenham as the target.
"There's one day in March we want to get to and there's no rush, we'll be working back from there."
Bowen was also impressed, adding: "He's a really nice horse and he showed that today. He's been smart from the day they bought him. He gives you a lovely feel. He ran a bit green and should come on again for that. Delighted with that."
Wonderwall was introduced into the betting for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at 20/1.