Robbie Power enjoys dream start to life as retained rider for Ann and Alan Potts with Pingshou win
Robbie Power enjoyed his first big-race success since becoming retained rider to Alan and Ann Potts when steering Pingshou to a surprise success in the Crabbie's Top Novices' Hurdle.
Having partnered Sizing John to glory for the couple in the Gold Cup, the Irish rider provided them with more Grade One silverware with a win aboard the lightly-raced seven-year-old.
Ridden prominently throughout, the Colin Tizzard-trained winner was sent on by Power past early leader Chti Balko into what was to be a decisive advantage over the third-last.
As the 16-1 chance readily opened up a healthy lead down towards the penultimate flight, many of his rivals failed to have the gears to go with him, with only Mount Mews emerging from the chasing pack as a potential threat going to the last.
But his effort was not enough to peg back Pingshou, with four and a half lengths splitting the pair at the line. The Unit was third.
Power said: "That's a great way to start the new job. I sat on this horse last week and absolutely loved him.
"He ran a bit disappointingly at Cheltenham (10th in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle), but he's really come in his coat now.
"I never felt in any danger and couldn't believe how well he was going the whole way, the race worked out perfectly."
Tizzard said: "He ran and jumped immaculately.
"Robbie came and sat on him the other day and he gave him a great ride. It's worked out brilliantly and I'm as surprised as anyone.
"We need winners, we definitely haven't been firing between Cheltenham and here but they are firing again now.
"We've got to appreciate winners when they come, you never know what will happen in this game, in our wildest dreams we couldn't envisage him winning like that."
Tizzard went on: "When we ran him first time he hadn't run for two years and he ran above expectations at Newbury.
"Then he won at Cheltenham and after that we said you wouldn't know how good he is.
"He actually ran OK in the Supreme and we ran today thinking he might win some prize-money, but he went and did that.
"When Robbie rode him the other day he couldn't hold him. It looks like ours have come right again."
Malcolm Jefferson, trainer of Mount Mews, said: "They've probably gone too slow for him. On better ground, the faster they went the better he'd have been, but the winner got first run on him.
"There's nothing Brian (Hughes) could have done really. He's a horse that can finish his races, but when they are three or four lengths ahead of you they don't come back to you here.
"I'm very happy with him. He's had a marvellous season. You can't complain. He's won four and been second twice. He hasn't let us down all season.
"I think he's a very nice horse. He doesn't mind what the ground is. He handles soft and is a horse that can go all winter. There are nice races in him.
"It's only his first full season and he's improved as the season has gone on. When he got beat at Wetherby I think he learnt more about racing than when winning some of his races.
"That's him done for the season and we'll keep him to hurdles. We'll probably go for the Fighting Fifth. We can always go novice chasing if we want to.
"If he can be a good hurdler, I'll keep him to hurdles."
Alan King said of The Unit: "To go from handicaps to a Grade One, I think he's acquitted himself very well.
"Probably on that evidence he wants two and a half miles. He could possibly go to Punchestown or that will be him done for the season.
"He'll go chasing in the autumn and is a progressive young horse."