Fleming closer to target with Ultimate win; FONTWELL.
ALAN FLEMING, who has a Triumph Hurdle hope in Starluck, added to his growing reputation as a trainer by bringing back injury-plagued Ultimate Limit to land a touch on his first run in 825 days.
After the nine-year-old had won without exerting Timmy Murphy too much in the 2m6f handicap chase, Fleming still felt his job was half done. This was his fifth winner, and after moving over from the Curragh to train out of winning owner Andrew Wates's Dorking stable, he set himself a target of ten winners.
"I've got 12 horses, seven for Mr Wates, and this horse had leg problems but this was a bad race and he was well handicapped.
"If his legs are all right in the morning he can go and win again."
Starluck, who gave Fleming his first winner in Britain, is on track to run in the Adonis Hurdle on February 21 before the Triumph Hurdle.
There he might meet Mr Thriller, as the David Pipe-trained juvenile swept aside favourite Stow in taking style, Victor Chandler slashing his Triumph Hurdle odds to 16-1 (from 33).
Nick Gifford had a timely boost after the loss in action of Killaghy Castle at Sandown the day before with a double courtesy of Tullamore Dew in the novice hurdle and newcomer Latin America in the bumper.
Both were ridden by stable conditional Jay Pemberton, who also received the credit for his homework on Tullamore Dew. He had learned to settle down for his rider, who produced him off the home bend to subdue the Tony McCoypartnered favourite Burton Port.
Gifford said: "I'd love to run him in the EBF Final with Jay taking 7lb off. That could be his next race. His owner Tommy Keogh also has Dee Ee Williams, who will be left in the Totesport Trophy at Newbury next weekend - his owner only wants him to run in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham if at all."
Latin America was an even more timely winner for the Core Strength team of Betfair founder Andrew Black and two former City colleagues Bob Markwick and Tim Bunting. They had lost Big Paddy to colic the previous night, and Theophrastus, who was due to run in Tullamore Dew's race, stepped out lame in the morning.
Gifford said: "Luckily this time things didn't come in threes. This horse is a really nice prospect, still an absolute baby."
Indeed, he showed that when jinking at the gate to the horsewalk into the final furlong. That gave favourite Toulaman renewed hope, but he could not get past under Eamon Dehdashti, who picked up a two-day ban (February 15-16) for excessive use of the whip.
The beaten favourite's trainer Gary Moore, back from a short break in Dubai, was still on the mark with Stance in the selling hurdle. He proved far too resolute under Jamie Moore for favourite Head To Kerry.
Ofarel D'Airy took the first hunter chase of the season for the top team of trainer Paul Nicholls and amateur rider Ollie Greenall, who will be looking for the winner of the Christie's Foxhunter.
He has already been successful aboard Amicelli, who has qualified to run, unlike this winner, who needs to either win or finish runner-up before the deadline day of February 23. Nicholls also has the likes of Le Duc and Royal Auclair on the hunter-chase path.
Tullamore Dew, who earned his place in the EBF Final
Ride of the day
Jay Pemberton on Tullamore Dew under the media glare of Tony McCoy watch
Ofarel D'Airy and Ollie Greenall (right) lead Dancer Life on their way to winning Fontwell's hunter chase ALAN CROWHURST