Outsider Pilgrims Bay caused somewhat of an upset in this year’s renewal of the Grade 3 BetBright Handicap Chase, coming from last to first in Kempton Park’s £75,000 feature.
At a good pace, the early running was cut out by the Nicky Henderson-trained Cocktails At Dawn tracked closely by Annacotty.
Into the home straight for the first time, Pilgrims Bay made a fiddly mistake and found himself detached in last and niggled briefly by his rider James Best.
With the lead changing hands after Cocktail At Dawn’s departure, the field bunched up with Double Shuffle appearing in the front rank.
All the while Pilgrims Bay made stealthy headway and latched himself onto the tails of the leaders swinging into the home straight for the last time.
He came there on the bridle between Theatre Guide and Double Shuffle, the latter having made a shuddering mistake three out, with Best still waiting to push the button.
The duo jumped to the lead after the last and once ridden found enough to hold Double Shuffle at bay by half-a-length.
For Best, who was unseated from his mount after the last, this victory posts as one of the biggest of his career so far.
“It’s days like this that mean so much,” reflected Best. “This is the biggest day of my racing career, just so grateful to Mr Mulholland and Mr Clifford you have no idea how much it means.
“I delivered him as late as I dare in the fact that he’s so quirky, you’ve got to expect the unexpected with him. I still got there too soon really but he was good and went through with it today.”
Mulholland fired two darts at the race, with Fingerontheswitch being the other and more fancied on the day.
It’s days like this that mean so much
The Bath-based handler takes his first big handicap win since The Young Master landed the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown Park back in the spring.
Mulholland said: “He’s a very very quirky horse he just doesn’t want to hit the front too soon, but it all went very well according to plan.
“We just thought the better race would be a help to him with more horses being around him.”