7lb claimer Danny McMenamin steered Nietzsche to victory in the feature £100,000 Grade Three Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.
Trained by Brian Ellison in Yorkshire, the five-year-old son of Poet’s Voice showed smart speed to fend off the gallant Silver Streak, trained by Evan Williams, to score by a neck in the 18-runner field.
Only five hurdles were jumped in the two-mile contest with the rest of the hurdles omitted due to concerns surrounding low sun.
18-year-old McMenamin, who is based with Cumbrian trainer Nicky Richards, paid tribute to Nietzsche’s battling qualities.
McMenamin said: “It was a great run from Nietzsche.
“The omission of some of the hurdles made it more of a sprint for home. I was travelling really well throughout.
“I had to kick on after the final hurdle and he kept on strongly throughout the home straight.
“Turning in, Nietzsche was full of running. Up the home straight he was idling in front and then when the other lad came to him he picked up again. He is a game little horse and gives you everything he has.
“He travelled a bit too well early on and I thought he might pull himself into a hole. Luckily, he got a nice breather in coming down the hill.
“Brian said to go out and give him the best chance he has. Nietzsche had a low weight and did it well.
“Back home my local track was Downpatrick and I used to go there as a kid. I just fell in love with the sport
“I’ve been attached to Nicky Richards for over a year. He has been good to me and hopefully the success will continue for me.”
There was just a neck in it on the line, with Nietzsche (9st 7lb) holding on from the fast-finishing Silver Streak (11st 5lb). Five hurdles were jumped in the two-mile race due to the low sun, with the final two omitted.
Silver Streak’s jockey Adam Wedge said: “He’s run a blinder, he’s run his heart out. We were galloping down the winner all the way to the line, we just didn’t quite get there.”
Trainer Evan Williams added of the five-year-old grey: “I thought we had it. The horse has run a great race, he’s run well, but to be fair to the winner he has a bit of form from the Fred Winter Hurdle, and is from a great trainer in Brian Ellison.
“The handicapper will put us up and that stop us winning handicaps – even though it was essentially a Flat race, the handicapper will say it’s a hurdle race!
“I imagine we’ll have to dip our toe into a conditions race somewhere – we might keep coming back here. The Bula Hurdle at the December meeting here, we could look at a race like that.
“As regards the hurdles coming out – I don’t agree with it, but it’s the same for them all. The winner won on merit; there’s no excuses for us but mine is a good horse.”
5lb-claimer Lorcan Williams, rider of Old Guard (11st 7lb ), the Paul Nicholls-trained runner who won the race in 2015 and finished third last year and filled the same position today, said: “He is brilliant, just a bit older and a bit slower now, he needs a bit further.
“He has run an absolutely phenomenal race – we are giving the winner two stone. It was a brilliant.
“He is a brilliant jumper, so I don’t know if more hurdles would have helped him, but I would definitely say two mile and four furlongs as he has absolutely fired up the hill.”