Soon to be Sandown Park chairman Nick Mustoe saw his black and pink silks carried to glory at the track on Friday after Bothwell Bridge made his debut over fences a triumphant one in the Betfair Daily Rewards Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.
Mustoe, who will take up his new role on January 1st, was on hand to watch the Nicky Henderson-trained six year old, that he jointly owns with friend Vicky Dunn, bounce back to winning ways in the two and a half mile contest.
The 11-4 favourite, who was last seen when failing to complete the Grade One Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, showed the best of his battling abilities to get the better of Mahler’s Promise by three and a quarter lengths.
Mustoe, who served as chairman of Kempton Park between 2013 and 2018, said: “It is wonderful. I’ve had a long association with Nicky (Henderson) but in a different role, as I was chairman of the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
“Nicky has been such a supporter and he helped us with the racedays and I always thought one day I must have a horse with Nicky.
“Vicky is a great friend of mine and knows Nicky well. I retired in the summer and that was the excuse - we all had lunch together and we said, ‘let’s get a horse’.
“The way he jumped was beautiful. For a first time out novice the first thing he has had to tackle is the Railway Fences, which I think are some of the toughest to get right.
“He wasn’t right at Aintree but he had a breathing operation over the summer. He got him back in and said, ‘I think he has a lot of potential over fences’.
“I think he handled two and a half but I think he will go back up to three miles down the line as you don’t want to go straight to your maximum.”
Meanwhile Harry Fry will pitch exciting prospect Forever Blessed into Grade One company on his next start after maintaining his unbeaten record in convincing fashion in the Pinsent Masons Introductory Juvenile Hurdle.
After an easy 11-length victory on his debut at Ffos Las 36 days ago the Zoffany gelding made light work of shouldering a penalty for that success when accounting for fellow last time out winner Romeo’s Bond by 18 lengths.
Following the race Forever Blessed was trimmed from 40-1 into 20-1 by Paddy Power for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Fry said: “He won well at Ffos Las when we didn’t really know what we had on our hands as he had never run before.
“The first time I set eyes on him was cross country schooling in a WhatsApp video in Ireland.
“He has always jumped well and we toyed in the autumn whether to go for a junior bumper or go for these but as he has jumped well we said we would go straight over hurdles.
“To win in the manner he did at Ffos Las was very pleasing, then it was a case of coming here to see if that was a fluke or not as at Ffos Las the distances can be exaggerated.
“Now with that run under his belt I think it is all systems go for Chepstow on Welsh National Day for the Grade One (Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle).”
James King had got no further than the first on his previous visit to Sandown Park but he described his latest result as a “huge thrill” after steering Bali Body to glory by three and a quarter lengths in the Sargent Fifty Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase.
King said of the Dr Richard Newland-trained 15-8 favourite: “I’ve had one ride here and I fell at the first. Once I got over the first I knew I was okay. It was a huge thrill especially when riding a horse like him that just gallops and jumps.
“The further he went the better he got. I had to take a pull round the home bend to let something else come to his girth.
“I know a lot of water has to go under the bridge first but you could maybe look at something like the Midlands National.”