the search for that elusive beast, a Cheltenham Festival candidate, can be conducted at arenas great and small and, after a selection put their credentials on display on King George day at Kempton on Saturday, another may have emerged yesterday from the murk and mud at lowly Fakenham.
And a remarkable horse he is, too. The previous occasion on which Mamlook had stood in a winner's circle was after the Chester Cup, one of the Flat programme's most competitive handicaps, last May and other tremendous efforts during a career that began five years ago in Ireland in Sheikh Hamdan's colours include a head-bob defeat at Royal Ascot, two places in the Cesarewitch and victory in a Grade Two hurdle at Ascot almost a year ago.
The seven-year-old may be a jack of all trades, but he is now master of all. Yesterday was his first run over fences and he completed his debut victory with minimum fuss, driven past the more experienced favourite Tullamore Dew on the run-in by Tony McCoy to prevail by three-quarters of a length.
It was Mamlook's first outing for 205 days but that sort of statistic has never been a negative for a David Pipe trainee. In a three-runner contest over two miles and five furlongs, McCoy tracked Tullamore Dew, which had already won twice over fences but was conceding 10lb.
Mamlook runs in the blue-and-yellow Peter Deal colours made famous by Make A Stand, the 1997 Champion Hurdle winner with McCoy up.
"The ground was much softer than ideal. It was a good display," said Pipe, who rates the son of Key Of Luck one of his Devon yard's leading novice chase prospects.
Meanwhile, Master Minded will face a maximum of eight rivals in Saturday's Grade One Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot, and has been installed as 4/7 favourite to make it three from three for the season en route to the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Yesterday's acceptors include a pair from Nicky Henderson -- Petit Robin and Mad Max -- and Mamlook's stablemate I'm So Lucky. (© Independent News Service)