Barizan back to winning form
Former top-class juvenile Barizan has provided numerous frustrations for his team but finally returned to lift a valuable prize at Taunton.
Trained by Evan Williams, Barizan produced a thrilling front-running effort in the 2010 Triumph Hurdle, only getting caught in the closing stages by Soldatino, and went on to take the championship event at Punchestown.
But he could never build on those achievements and had finished tailed-off in two outings after returning from more than a year on the sidelines.
The 25-1 shot finished best on the sticky Somerset mud, picking off Home Run to collect by a length and a quarter in the Bathwick Tyres Handicap Hurdle.
"He had a desperate, desperate injury to a leg and it was touch and go whether we'd ever get him back," said jockey Paul Moloney.
"Like a jockey can't do without horses, the trainer can't do without staff and a girl of Evan's has done wonders with him.
"I said to the owners that we were in the dark whether he'd ever be back, so that's great."
Edmund Kean recorded a second victory in just four days when a confident Conor O'Farrell eased him home in the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle.
Trainer David Pipe, who had talked through his possible Cheltenham Festival runners at a media event earlier in the day, could have have another one for the team in Dai Walters' gelding, who was equally as impressive at Fakenham on Friday.
O'Farrell needed to give the 8-11 favourite a minor reminder to keep him close to the pace but the contest was over as soon as he hit the front after the final flight.
"He's all right - he has done nothing but improve at home and he didn't have much of a run on Friday," said Pipe. "That's why we came back so quick as it was on our doorstep.
"He's in my dad's race (Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle) but we'll have to see."
Highland Retreat (9-4 favourite) continues to make a valuable contribution to the Harry Fry stable as she saw off Neltara in the Weatherbys Bank Novices' Hurdle.
"She was my first winner, at Exeter, and that's my first winner at Taunton," said Fry.
"We've been trying to make the most of the soft ground, but Noel (Fehily) said she found that hard enough work. It's quite close, but there's a Listed three-mile hurdle at Doncaster on March 2 that we might look at."
Richard Johnson galvanised his mother Sue's The Last Bridge (14-1) past a tiring Silky Bob in the Rural Living Show Here 23rd March Handicap Hurdle, just avoiding ducking out at the entrance to the paddock near the post.
However, the rider was suspended for five days (March 5-9) for causing his mount to be wealed by the whip.