Pitman, the new assistant trainer to his mother, Jenny, watched the 10-year-old, his winning mount in the 1991 Cheltenham Gold Cup, put in a masterly round of jumping before running out of steam on the run-in.
Well behind him were good horses in Tipping Tim, the winner of the race 12 months ago, and Forest Sun, who jumped as if he had been indulging in the free food laid on by the track for its patrons.
Bradbury Star, who has now been prepared by Josh Gifford to win first time up for the last five years, may return to Cheltenham for the two valuable autumn handicaps, the Mackeson and Bonusprint Chases, but Garrison Savannah's plans are less clear. 'You don't put cards on the table at this stage of the season,' Jenny Pitman said. 'I'm always pleased with Garry if he returns with the bits and pieces he went out with. He owes us nothing.'
Privately, however, those at Weathercock House still hold Gold Cup aspirations for the horse. His next port of call will be either Newbury, for the Hennessy, or Liverpool.
Tipping Tim's dribbling performance will hardly inspire punters to snap up the short odds that will be offered about his stable-mate Young Hustler at Wincanton today.
The six-year-old competes in the event which used to herald a grey hero's return from summer camp, the Desert Orchid South Western Pattern Chase, and will have his supporters following an eight from 15 record last season.
For all his merits, though, Young Hustler did not begin his campaign successfully and he may struggle to contain a horse who ran probably his best race on his seasonal debut in this event 12 months ago when runner-up to Remittance Man, Kings Fountain.
The tall, dark beast is the sort of horse to get jockeys sweating in their sleep, such is his tendency to lose a fence in a huge blind spot. He has seen off two of his grounded partners from last season, Anthony Tory, who is riding on the Continent, and the retired Peter Scudamore, and this afternoon transports (for some way at least) Kim Bailey's new stable jockey, Norman Williamson. If he hangs on, he should win.
This race, and the Theale Maiden Stakes at Newbury, which features the much- vaunted Kalkabrino, are the most interesting races of the day, yet both escape the attention of the television cameras.
Instead, viewers will be offered a typically insipid Horris Hill Stakes and two dull handicaps at the Berkshire course. Kris and Tirol are the unusually memorable names on the scroll for the Group Three Horris Hill, but the ranks of average winners should be swelled today by Erhaab (next best 3.10). Bagalino (2.40) will not get an easier handicap mission in his life, while NEW CAPRICORN (nap 3.40) is 9lb lower in the weights than earlier in the season.
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