With the weather closing in again – today's meetings at both Ascot and Uttoxeter are subject of morning inspections and weekend prospects are not good – jump trainers are grabbing opportunities while they are there. Yesterday, a soggy afternoon at Exeter drew an eye-catching collection of young chasers needing miles under their hooves en route to greater targets at Cheltenham in March.
In the three-mile contest, RSA Chase candidate Wymott took another step in his education with a success for which he had to work hard, an ideal follow-up to his easy debut victory over fences at Bangor last month. As a 1-2 favourite should, he jumped well and raced within his comfort zone and though a slight mistake at the last allowed outsider Shalimar Fromentro to close, he found more for jockey Jason Maguire's pressure and his half-length winning margin was cosy enough.
"I'm pleased with that," said trainer Donald McCain of the six-year-old. "He travelled like a good horse but tended to idle once he hit the front, and this will have taught him a lot. He's not ready for the big meetings yet, but that is the aim further down the line."
Another for whom lofty aspirations are held, the Paul Nicholls-trained Definity, caught the eye in fourth after an absence of nearly two years. Earlier, his stable-mate Royal Charm, like Wymott a smart hurdler tackling fences for only the second time, showed real character as he overcame more experienced opposition in the two-and-a-quarter mile chase.
The five-year-old was a hard-driven two lengths down at the last, with the leader Leo's Lucky Star still going easily. But, responding willingly to a powerful drive from Daryl Jacob, he caught his rival in the final stride to score by a head. "He needs a longer trip, but we were glad to get this run into him," said Nicholls. "We're in no hurry with him, though."
Jacob replaced Noel Fehily, who had not recovered from the flu that forced him to give up his rides at Newbury on Wednesday.
Sue Montgomery's Nap
Swift Alhaarth (3.45 Wolverhampton) Scopey type who had an encouraging effort on all-weather debut.
Indefinite Hope (1.45 Southwell) May have been ring-rusty when disappointing as favourite on British debut.
One to watch
Albertus Pictor (M Prescott) Was strong finishing third at Lingfield on Wednesday.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Flash City (1.10 Southwell).