TAUNTON provided plenty of mid-season talking points yesterday, including a shock 200/1 winner, but once again Gold Cup-winning rider Sam Waley-Cohen had a day to forget.
Waley-Cohen, who rides Long Run for Nicky Henderson in the silks of his father, endured more frustration as he was handed another ban.
The amateur already has to serve 15 days of a suspension -- spread over the coming weeks after last month's error at Fakenham where he was deemed to have ridden a finish a circuit too early -- and has now picked up another three for his use of the whip on Time For Spring, which was runner-up to Made In Time in the staying handicap chase.
Sensing the chance to ride his first winner of the season, Waley-Cohen gave his mount three swift reminders to guarantee a big leap two out, and so earned a ban for not giving his mount adequate time to respond.
The dates of his suspension (February 16, 17 and 19) narrowly avoid both of Long Run's potential Cheltenham rehearsals, at Newbury or Ascot next month.
In the end, Waley-Cohen found himself outfoxed by William Kennedy, who gave Made In Time -- which had failed to complete the course on its previous two outings -- a copybook ride.
The Kildare native tracked Time For Spring all the way up the straight before giving the JP McManus-owned gelding enough rope to win by two and a quarter lengths on the run-in.
Neither trainer Rebecca Curtis nor McManus were present, and Kennedy said: "Although I thought two miles and seven would suit, I wanted to keep a little bit of speed for late on and I saw that Sam and Jamie Moore (Vino Griego) were racing.
"He'd unseated the last two times and maybe been unlucky, but the trainer said he'd schooled well yesterday and he jumped nicely."
The undoubted performance of the day came from Darlan in the novices' hurdle, despite the attempts of Barry Geraghty to downplay the smoothness of the success afterwards.
Another in the McManus silks but trained by Henderson, 10/11 favourite Darlan was stretching his unbeaten record to four and was cut to 14/1 by Coral for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
Although he made hard work of his most recent victory at Cheltenham, this was far more impressive and Geraghty was simply cantering alongside Ruby Walsh and Jump City despite the margin of half a length.
"He's done it well but he probably made it look easier than it was. He's one of those that you just say 'whoah' and he goes," explained Geraghty.
"Jump City has been disappointing in the past and a couple of the others would need the run, but he still won nicely."
One for the future could be Giordano Bruno, sent off into an immediate lead under Richard Johnson, which faded late on what was his first start since finishing third in the Aintree bumper in 2009, finishing 15 lengths behind the runner-up.
What turned out to be an eventful afternoon also featured the 200/1 success of Lights Of Broadway in the mares' novice hurdle as Mark Grant's mount led home Wishes And Stars (50/1) and Fortuna Rose (33/1).
Jo Hughes' mare, the biggest-priced winner since Maoi Chinn Tire at Wetherby in October 2010, was given a huge helping hand as Night Rose took a crunching fall at the second-last flight when looking like assuming the lead.
"I'm not a gambler, but I did think she was capable of running well, and the better ground and the shorter trip have helped," said Hughes.
Tony McCoy, who broke ribs in a fall at the Somerset track on December 30, would have ridden both McManus winners but he still had a connection with the winner of the claiming hurdle.
Tor Sturgis, who was cleverly placing Fulgora (16/1) to land her second consecutive race, is one of McCoy's tenants.
"One of the reasons I chose this race was because she didn't get a penalty for winning at Ludlow and she also got the fillies' allowance. That's one for the landlord," said Sturgis.
Johnson, meanwhile, was given a two-day ban for using his whip with excessive frequency as he got 11/4 favourite Carrickmines up by a nose in the three-mile handicap hurdle.