Handy Headon ran out a leisurely winner of the Frank & Brian Memorial Hunter Chase at Downpatrick on Friday evening to give his trainer David Christie back-to-back victories in the race.
The lightly-raced ten-year-old, was sent off as the second favourite as he bid to follow-up his victory in a maiden hunter chase at Down Royal just 18 days earlier, and similar tactics were employed as Ben Harvey set out his intentions from the drop of the flag, with the pair once again jumping well from the front to make all.
The favourite Er Dancer, who briefly had to be shaken up by Alan Harney early on the final circuit, loomed as the big danger before he exited at the fourth-last fence, from where Handy Headon was left a considerable distance clear of his rivals.
Ray Nicholas’ gelding had no problems negotiating the final three fences, and although pulling himself up in the closing stages, he had the race comfortably wrapped up to defeat Whisper In Court by six and a half lengths with Pegase Amour a further eight and a half lengths back in third.
“He wasn’t giving me any worries when I was watching him, he was travelling well and jumped super and looked to be happy,” Christie said.
“But when Ben [Harvey] came in he said that he would be a much better horse on better ground, that ground is just starting to catch him out. That was a good performance when you consider that he just didn’t enjoy it as much as he can.
“We changed a lot of things with this horse, I probably trained him badly for a year, but we changed his whole routine, the way he works, we changed the way he races, the way we fed him. It has just turned him around.
“I had him entered in Stratford, but I have Vaucelet and Ask D’Man to go there so I would say Listowel would be on the cards for him.”