DARYL Jacob warmed up for his big ride on Cue Card in perfect fashion by riding a double at Haydock, where there was no joy for Willie Mullins’ sole raider.
After losing his role as stable jockey to Paul Nicholls, the Wexford man could have seen his career head in the wrong direction but as one door closed another one opened.
He has been retained by Jean and Bob Bishop to ride their string with Colin Tizzard following the retirement of the trainer’s son, Joe.
As well as the ride on Hennessy player Theatre Guide, already a winner this season, the plum ride on Cue Card is now Jacob’s and his first major aim of the season is today’s Betfair Chase.
Jacob struck first in the opening three-mile handicap hurdle on Emma Lavelle’s Closing Ceremony (13/2) which showed a courageous attitude to edge out favourite Milan Bound by a head.
The stylish rider then teamed up with Tizzard to guide Third Intention to victory in the Graduation Chase, for which the Mullins-trained Turban was sent off favourite but Ruby Walsh’s mount trailed home last of four.
At Ascot, the highly-regarded Puffin Billy got back to winning ways in tremendous style with a foot-perfect display in the beginners’ chase. Oliver Sherwood has always thought the world of the six-yearold but he was struck down by colic last season.
He managed only third on his chasing debut but showed the benefit of that with a spring-heeled round of jumping under Leighton Aspell.
Sent off the 5/2 second favourite, Puffin Billy was bold at the last and came home eight lengths clear of Killala Quay.
“That was very satisfying as you never quite know if they still have the appetite to win when they come back from problems like he had,” said Sherwood.
Barry Geraghty rode two Nicky Henderson favourites on the card, but drew a rare blank.