Star Gate maintained his unbeaten record as he took a step up in class in his stride with a stylish success in the Ballymore Winter Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown.
Having made an impressive debut under rules at Chepstow towards the end of October, the Evan Williams-trained four-year-old followed up in similarly taking fashion for Grade Two honours.
Racing just in behind early leader Sending Love, the 5-4 favourite showed a smart turn of foot in testing conditions to surge into a clear lead between the final two flights.
Meeting the last on a good stride, the Angela and William Rucker-owned gelding galloped on resolutely to defeat Valleres by eight and a half lengths.
Williams – enjoying a swift across-the-card double after Bold Plan lowered the colours of The Big Breakaway at Exeter – refused to get carried away with the performance of Star Gate, who was introduced at 20-1 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle by Coral and William Hill.
“He is a nice horse. It’s very difficult when there’s such a small field, though,” said the Vale of Glamorgan handler.
“While he is a nice horse he’s very much a baby so every step with him is an important step.
“I think we want to be careful with him. I don’t want to say what we’ll do or where we’ll go.
“I don’t think he’s one I’d want to run again too quickly as that was very heavy ground and he is only a four-year-old.”
De Boinville, who was having his first ride for Williams, said: “I was really impressed. We didn’t go much of a gallop early on, but we certainly quickened up very well.
“He was very impressive over the last and quickened all the way to the line. I’m delighted with him and for Evan with the across-the-card double.
“He is still such a raw horse and there is still so much to come from him. As Evan said, he is a big baby still. It was just very much a case of looking after him and getting him jumping and away we went. He came out of my hands at the first and I thought I would leave him to it.
“We went no pace and that’s why I decided to help Harry (Cobden on Sending Love) along otherwise we would have been going very quick to the last. It was great to see him run through the line like that.
“I think two and a half (miles) for now will be his trip.”
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