By Peter Moore at Kempton Park 9th February 2024
On a day that saw 24 non runners over the seven race card due to the going, one horse relished the tough conditions.
Highstakesplayer , back on a course for the first time since 458 days, won the feature race of the day, The Every Race Live on Racing TV Handicap Steeple Chase over 3m.
The eight year old appeared anything but rusty under Stan Sheppard, to score by half a length.
Trainer Tom Lacey, who has an impressive strike rate at the track, was encouraged by the horses performance who had to fend off the challenge of both Iconic Muddle and Killer Kane.
“What encouraged me most was how he picked up after the last because I was just waiting for him to blow up,” he said We weren’t completely sure where we were with him.
“He should come forward plenty for the run and he could go to the 3m1f handicap at the Grand National meeting which I won with Thomas Patrick, but we’ll try and pick something out in between. His jumping is a real asset – he took three lengths out of them at the last ditch.”
Highstakesplayer took his record to five wins from 13 starts including taking his unbeaten record over fences to three.
Elsewhere, Masaccio was sent off a long odds on shot to win the second race on the card, a 2m 5f novices hurdle race and comfortably justified those short odds of 1-6 with a comfortable victory.
The Alan King trained seven year old made up for his disappointing effort in the Challow Hurdle and clearly relished the drop down in class by finishing eight and a half lengths clear of Tough Approach under Tom Cannon.
Max McNeill, who owns the horse with Niall Farrell hinted after the race that Masaccio may well go to Aintree for the Sefton Novices Hurdle.
The partnership of trainer Chris Gordon and jockey Rex Dingle came up trumps in the split bumpers on the card at the end of the afternoon.
In Division One, Electric Mason backed up his encouraging third at Ascot 97 days ago with victory in the penultimate race off the day, with the same duo successful thirty minutes later when Andashan won Division Two on his debut under rules.