NEW Little Bric returned to form to foil well-supported favourite The Package in the totesport.com Gold Cup Handicap. David Pipe's The Package was sent off the 11-4 market leader and he looked a likely winner turning for home as he set out in pursuit of New Little Bric. However, Paul Nicholls-trained Grade One winner in February 2007, who has been out of luck since, really knuckled down for Nick Scholfield in the finish.
A slow jump at the second-last saw The Package lose ground while a novicey leap at the last gifted a seven-length verdict to 14-1 shot New Little Bric. It was the second successive year Scholfield has won the valuable handicap having scored on Natal 12 months previously.
Scholfield said: "I was going so well that I decided to send him on. He was doing absolutely nothing in front but he's a lovely horse with all the ability in the world. The blinkers definitely made a difference."
Nicholls added: "I nearly stayed at home with him today as he ran so badly last week. But we worked him in blinkers the other day and it seemed to spark him into life and I told Nick to be positive on him. I must admit that I didn't fancy him at all today but he does like a flat track. After that performance he'll probably go for a race like the Topham at Aintree now."
Grand National entry Darkness (9-4 favourite) and Tony McCoy were fortunate to land the totescoop6 Veterans' Handicap Chase. Irish Raptor was towing them along but he jinked into the rail turning for home and deposited Paddy Brennan on the floor. McCoy had to keep the injury-hit but smart chaser up to his work and they obliged by 11 lengths from Church Island.
Owner Lady Lloyd-Webber said: "He couldn't breathe at Chepstow last time but he had that seen to. He is entered at Cheltenham but fairytales are made at Aintree and I am all for going for these things if he's up for it." Coral are biggest of the major bookmakers at 40-1.
At Doncaster, Philip Hobbs and Tom O'Brien combined to land the day's feature race, the Coolfun Grimthorpe Chase, with Out The Black. The 11-year-old was noted travelling ominously well behind the leaders before taking up the running early in the straight. Gidam Gidam laid down a solid challenge but could never quite get on terms with the 11-2 winner.
Alan King and Wayne Hutchinson completed a quick double when Georgian King (8-1) took a dramatic race for the Sands 5th Year Handicap Hurdle. "The ball's rolling. We've hung on for this sort of ground as he hates the soft. He'll be kept on the go now that the ground has come to suit him," said Williams. There was a nasty incident at the fourth-last where Arrayou, ridden by Dominic Elsworth and the Tjade Collier-partnered Leac An Scail crashed into the flight. Both jockeys walked into back into the weighing room but after suffering his second fall of the day, Elsworth was stood down for the rest of the meeting. Earlier, Lake Legend's fine run secured success in the State Club In Gainsborough Novices' Hurdle, after taking over from Border Reiver.