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Pentiffic is just terrific; Williams jumping for joy after maiden victory.

VENETIA Williams' irresistible form rubbed off on ex-champion Australian jumper Pentiffic as he opened his British account at Huntingdon.

Pentiffic rose to prominence Down Under in 2009, becoming the first horse in history to complete the prestigious treble of the Dominant Hiskens Chase, Crisp Chase and Grand National Chase (all of which are essentially hurdles) in the same season - but he outgrew the crumbling confines of the Antipodean National Hunt scene.

Lightning 60 He damaged a tendon in a valuable race in Japan and had made two starts for Williams before the Equimark Horseboxes Premier Novices' Chase.

Nicky Henderson's Problema Tic was the 1-4 favourite and had as many chances as he liked to win the race, but did not help himself by jumping sloppily at many of the fences.

This could not be said for the largely accurate Pentiffic, who weathered one last challenge from Problema Tic to hold on by a head for Aidan Coleman.

It was Williams' 10th winner of a fortnight in which she has more than doubled her tally for the sea-son. The Herefordshire trainer earlier won the Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle with Hohlethelonely (7-2).

Of Pentiffic, Williams' assistant Jerry Roberts said: "Problema Tic's jumping has helped him, as ours jumps so well.

"We inherited him after he ran in Japan and gave him 12 months off straight away.

"It is very difficult to quantify Australian form but he has run much better than in his previous starts for us."

Hohlethelonely was carrying a penalty for a recent success at Exeter and Harry Challoner survived a late burst from 3-1 favourite Clever Dick.

Another Henderson hotpot sank in the EBF Equimark Horseboxes "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle when 1-5 favourite Ericht could not pick up Hughie Morrison's Cousin Khee (5-1) under Tom Scudamore.

Cousin Khee finished eighth and Ericht sixth in the last Cheltenham Festival bumper with neither going on to set the world alight this term.

Jeremy Scott made it two in as many days following What Er Say's win at Fontwell as Dreambrook Lady (5-2 favourite) made it look easy in the Equimark Horseboxes Mares' Novices' Handicap Hurdle.

The former Somerset farmer runs a tight ship in Dulverton and had driven the box himself.

Oscar Close (11-2) shrugged off pretty unconvincing form figures to take the Equimark Horseboxes Handicap Chase by a flying 20 lengths.

Neither trainer George Baker nor the owner, Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, were present but conditional jockey Trevor Whelan had an idea why Oscar Close had shown such improvement.

Whelan said: "He is not a very confident horse. We have done lots of schooling on him and we also have someone in who discovered his back was all wrong. He jumped really well on the final circuit."

David Evans' Star Galaxy (9-2) won the Handicap Chase while Henderson's Brigadier Miller (9-4) floored the wellbacked Special Mate in the bumper.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 14, 2012
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