Day of firsts as Nicholls and McManus combine in style
On a day when Paul Nicholls sent out his first winner for JP McManus at Exeter, the English champion trainer's young protege Harry Fry broke his duck in the training ranks.
Fry was the first visitor to the winner's enclosure as Highland Retreat (10/1) under Jack Barber captured the amateur riders' maiden hurdle, holding off Alberobello by a head.
"To get the first winner on the board is a relief, to say the least, said Fry. "To go and do it with a horse owned by Richard Barber -- who is my landlord and a man I owe everything to -- and for it to be ridden by his grandson Jack is a fairy story."
It was clearly a day of new beginnings, with Nicholls saddling his first winner for leading owner McManus as Mr Mole looked a future star by taking the novice hurdle in the hands of Tony McCoy.
"It was our first runner for JP and it was the right result, so we're very pleased," Nicholls said.
McCoy and Nicholls were on opposing sides in the Best Mate Beginners' Chase, as Ruby Walsh guided Nicholls' Rebel Rebellion to a two-length victory over the McManus-owned Bold Henry.
Walsh and Nicholls had to settle for second in the staying novice chase with Rocky Creek as Kim Bailey's Harry Topper took the spoils under Jason Maguire.