Hillcrest has come nearly all the way to remain unbeaten this season in the Ballymore Beginners Hurdle, the first race at Cheltenham in 2022.
Trained by Henry Daly, the seven-year-old lacks nothing in terms of size and clearly has his fair share of skill too.
Having won at Aintree and Wetherby this season, he was sent off with a 3/1 chance of handling the move to the listed company.
Richard Patrick bounced him into the lead and looked like he was doing well inside for much of the race.
Nicky Henderson-trained favorite I Am Maximus, who had sweated early and raced up and down the bridle, looked like a threat as he entered the straight, but Hillcrest towered over him.
While the favorite briefly hit the front for a few paces, Patrick hadn’t asked his mount for everything and when he did there was still a lot to do in the tank and he pulled two lengths ahead.
Betfair presented the winner at 1/25 for Ballymore in March and 1/16 for Albert Bartlett.
“He’s taller than my meter and when he arrived in the yard he weighed 693 pounds. Most of mine are 520 (kg), which puts things in perspective,” Daly said.
“He’s big and he’s very talented. He lobbed and Richard never had to pick up the stick.
“He doesn’t have to race and he has a big mind on him. I just wanted to see what he was like on a rolling track.
“When you think about how a hunter looks, he’ll look like him. He’s a real Trevor (Hemmings) horse.”
Full Back puts it all together for Moore
Gary Moore’s goalkeeper, eighth in the Ladbrokes Trophy last time, held out to win the New Four Eighty Restaurant At Cheltenham Festival Handicap Chase.
Ejected by the 9/2 favorite, he may have been slightly lucky as Venetia Williams’ Destinee Royale was doing great before going down before the home round.
The wolf remained after the last to challenge, but he was still two and a quarter lengths from the line.
“I thought he ran well in Hennessy (Ladbrokes Trophy) where he made some careless mistakes, but the slower terrain helped him jump today,” said Moore.
“We had luck on our side because it started raining hard when we reached Lambourn and I called the owner to get him out but he said we had to escape.
“It does him good to put his head in front. He has one or two problems but they didn’t show up today.”