A four-time winner over hurdles in 2014/15, Nathans Pride was unable to add to his tally last term, but he had run much better on his previous outing at Ayr and, back on faster ground, we were optimistic that he could be competitive in what was a good-quality handicap hurdle.
Held up in the early stages by Alan Johns, he travelled strongly into the race and, hitting the front two from home, kept on really well to land the £11,500 first prize for owner Paul Bowtell.
He has always had plenty of ability and I was delighted to see him bounce back to his best – hopefully he can build on this, in which case he could go close in another big handicap this summer.
His win followed another good performance in defeat from Dubh Eile, who went down in a three-way battle in the 2m4f handicap hurdle she had won last year, whilst Bucking The Trend continued his fine form with a second in the £22,000 handicap chase, having won a similar event at Ludlow on his latest outing.
Earlier in the week, Belize followed his wide-margin success at Newton Abbot in March with an impressive success off a 13lbs higher mark at Southwell, despite still looking very green when hitting the front before the second-last.
It was a fine performance to win up in the weights and up in grade, and he is beginning to shape up into a useful prospect, the half-brother to smart flat Listed winner/useful hurdler Rich Coast looking the type to improve further with time. He seems to relish soft ground and is now likely to have a break, with a view to returning in October. Congratulations to his owner Derek Passant!
Nathans Pride’s class 2 success came a week after Lamool ran another fine race in the same grade, finishing third in a very competitive affair at Haydock Park. He is a tremendously consistent individual and we may look to go back over fences with him next time, with options at Worcester, Uttoxeter and Cartmel at the end of the month.