Flying machine wins in Devon
Flying Award picked up his third 'National' in less than a year by playing his part on a terrific day at Exeter for the Gardner family.
Lucy Gardner had ridden the gelding to success in both the Highland and Somerset equivalents but as her mother, Sue, trains just four miles away from the course at Longdown, the Higos Insurance Services Devon National will have ranked at the top of the pile.
While there are only ever a maximum of a dozen horses at Woodhayes Farm, the pair had already initiated a double on the card through Here's Herbie (100/30 favourite) in the Call Star Sports On 08000 521 321 Handicap Hurdle.
Flying Award (9/2) had been pulled up in last month's West Wales National at Ffos Las but bounded over three and three-quarter miles of undulating country to beat Coolking by three lengths.
"We're only the over the hill from here, so it's great," said Sue Gardner.
"He's so cool, and Lucy knows him really well. He always gets a good welcome here.
"It was the ground at Ffos Las and he was a bit outclassed. He'll go up (in the weights) now, so might not get in at Perth (for the Highland National in April)."
Here's Herbie was popular in the market after an eyecatching second a fortnight ago, but was some way adrift of the free-wheeling Gallic Warrior turning for home.
It was something of a contrast of styles between Gardner and Paddy Brennan, who realised Gallic Warrior was running out of steam approaching the final flight and he was collared and eventually beaten by 10 lengths.
The winning trainer said: "Home-bred horse and home-bred jockey.
"It wasn't his track last time at Taunton, this suited, but it took him the whole straight to get going.
"Hopefully he'll make a nice chaser."
An even more exciting future chaser for the notebook will be the Jonjo O'Neill-trained Capote (even-money joint-favourite) who maintained his unbeaten record by toying with Saint Breiz in the Racing UK Novices' Hurdle.
Trainer Fergal O'Brien reached a notable landmark in the Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide Novices' Limited Handicap Chase.
The patiently-ridden Farmer Matt (3/1) tracked the game leader Beforeall and eventually had his measure by a length and a quarter under Brennan.
"It's great to get to 40 (winners) for the season," said O'Brien.
"It's only our second full season - we got 28 last time - and I'd take 40 if you offered it to me at the start of next season.
"We've not had a clear run with this horse, but he has done us proud and that was a nice race to win."
Venetia Williams is edging towards her best ever total, with Bobble Boru (2/1) enhancing the statistics in the EBF Stallions Mares' "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle.
Far better than a shocking run at Fakenham on Valentine's Day, she had the measure of top weight and 11/10 favourite Massannie, who staged a late revival but was held by a length and a quarter.
Williams said: "There was nothing to report from Fakenham - she was fine afterwards - but it was a really vile day, I should think the most horrible day they've had racing this year, and I wouldn't have fancied being out there.
"That's 74 winners - my best was 90 last year. For the last couple of weeks it looked as if things were drying up but we had a nice couple of winners last weekend."
Conor Shoemark was more adhesive in the saddle aboard Rugged Jack (11/4) than his opponents in the Racing Excellence Conditional Jockeys' Training Series Handicap Hurdle.