Exchange rate pays dividend
The decision to run Current Exchange at Leicester instead of waiting for Cheltenham next week paid dividends with a last-gasp victory.
Shrewsbury trainer Sheila Crow revealed that her husband, Alistair, suggested they go for the Mallard Pawnbrokers Hunters' Chase, the feature race at the East Midlands track and worth £7,716 to the winner. It proved correct, but only just.
Benedictus jumped the last three lengths clear but emptied in the final half-furlong and was caught in the last few strides.
Current Exchange (5/2 favourite) finished the strongest under 7lb-claiming amateur Paddy Gerety to get up by a neck from Court Red Handed with Benedictus only third, half a length away.
"He's a very genuine horse. He will always try his best and is never far away," said Crow.
"We'll have to think where we go with him now. It was either Cheltenham or here and Alistair said here as he thought we could win where we may have been third at Cheltenham.
"I didn't think he'd like the ground as heavy as it is, but he's a toughie."
There was another tight finale when Thedreamstillalive (2/1) held Cool Bob by a nose in the Leicestershire And Derbyshire Yeomanry Handicap Chase.
Thedreamstillalive, now 14, won a novice chase on this card in 2007 and was all out under 19-year-old amateur Harry Bannister to shut out the outsider of four to land a sixth success under Rules.
"I ride him every day and he's like an old teddy bear. he's a character and jumps like a buck," said winning trainer Jim Old. "I suppose I have to think about retirement at some time, but I'm not ready to retire and I don't think he is.
"He likes to go right-handed and with Folkestone and Hereford closed I'll be struggling to find another race for him this season."
Kentford Legend (6/4) hardly gave his supporters an anxious moment as he made all in the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry Handicap Chase.
Repeating his course and distance success of three weeks ago, the Seamus Mullins-trained seven-year-old answered Andrew Thornton's every call as he swept home by 11 lengths from Lough Coi.
"He's a young horse and gaining in experience. He's had some exposed handicappers behind him and he handled the ground," said Thornton.
Arkaim (5/1) ran his rivals ragged to win virtually unchallenged in the Queens Royal Lancers Handicap Chase.
The six-year-old made most of the running as he scorched home by 27 lengths in the hands of 3lb claimer Kielan Woods.
"I've only got seven jumpers and they have all been running well. This horse might go to Kempton next Saturday for a novice handicap chase," said trainer Pam Sly.
The Jo Davis-trained Leeroar (9/1) outpointed the only other finisher Badb Catha by a length and a quarter to make a winning debut over fences in an eventful Leicester Interactive Novices' Handicap Chase.
The 8/15 shot Lord Landen exited at the first fence and the second-favourite No More Whispers followed suit down the back straight.
"He jumped fine in the main but he was sketchy at one or two" said winning rider Sam Jones.
"I felt happier after the favourite went at the first. To be fair we were just walking in the straight."
Siro Demur (5/1), owned and trained by Philip Rowley, led two out as he took the Thrusters Hunters' Chase by three and a half lengths under Alex Edwards from Delta Borget.