The Neil Mulholland trained Shantou Village made an encouraging start to his chasing career earlier this afternoon at Fontwell Park.
The gelded son of Shantou was a high-class novice over hurdles last season, but picked up an injury when running below-par at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Ridden by regular pilot Noel Fehily he faces three rivals on his maiden voyage over the larger obstacles, two of which were completely outclassed and the only conceivable threat falling on the second circuit, leaving the long odds-on favourite to coast home in his own time.
His jumping on the whole was impressive for a novice, except for one mistake at the last when standing too far off, but managed to correct himself and maintain the partnership to the line.
Mulholland said: “I was very happy, Noel said he wasn’t doing a stroke in the straight, he jumped fantastic.
“He was getting lonely and looking around but if he has company in a stronger race we can forget about that. The plan is to come back here on September 30th over course and distance, two miles-five, and then on October 21st there’s a three-mile novice chase at Cheltenham. Last year we started at Carlisle before stepping up so we’ll just start quietly again. Obviously he has to go on now, but this was good education and a nice day out.”
Fehily told At The Races: “He’s quite a lazy horse anyway so to go round on your own – I thought it was a great performance. He jumped lovely, he winged two out but just had a little stumble at the back of it.
“He was having a look around going to the last and that was my worry – he just looks around a lot and I thought he might do something silly, that’s all that was. He’s a very intelligent horse with loads of scope, he can come out of your hands and get out the other side easy or he can pop away – he’s very straightforward.
“I didn’t know Sam (Twiston-Davies on Abidjan) had fallen, I was hoping he might give me a race.”
He added: “I won on him at Carlisle last year and wasn’t sure if he was any good or not, but Neil always said he was and he showed what he could do. Compared to this time last year he’s streets ahead.”
Shantou Village is currently 25-1 for both the JLT Novices’ and RSA Chase, and 33-1 for the National Hunt Chase according to Oddschecker.