|Grade 3 Handicap,
Kempton Park 15:35
5yo plus, 3m, Class 1
|Saturday 25th February 2017|
1 Pilgrims Bay 25/1
2 Double Shuffle 11/2
3 Theatre Guide 11/1
13 ran Distances: ½l, 2½l, ½l
Time: 5m 56.20s (slow by 2.20s)
James Best shows nerves of steel on Pilgrims Bay
Racing from bottom weight of 10st 2lb for trainer Neil Mulholland and jockey James Best, Pilgrims Bay was passed over by most punters as he boasted just one win in five starts over fences.
Settled at the back of the field through the early stages, it was Annacotty and Cocktails At Dawn who were cutting out the early gallop, until the latter fell at the fence in front of the stands first time around.
Double Shuffle duly took up a more prominent role, but Best was happy to bide his time and let the key names play their hands before moving smoothly into contention at the top of the straight.
As last year's winner Theatre Guide kicked for home and Double Shuffle went with him, the ice-cool Best sat virtually motionless between the two horses, finally giving his mount the signal after the last.
Pilgrims Bay responded in style, cruising home by half a length from Double Shuffle, with Theatre Guide back in third.
Best said: "It's days like this that mean so much, this is the biggest day of my racing career. You've no idea how much it means and how grateful I am to be given an opportunity on a day like this.
"He travelled with ease the whole way through, but you can never be confident he will go through with it. I still got there too soon really, but he was good and he went through with it today."
There was a slight blip in the celebrations as Best was unshipped shortly after the line.
He added: "I'd done celebrating, I was trying to pull him up. I delivered him as late as I dare, with the fact he is so quirky, and sure enough he's dropped his shoulder - you have to expect the unexpected with him."
Mulholland said: "He is a character, very much so. He won first time out at Sandown for us and has been on the premises.
"We could have gone to Exeter on Friday, but we thought we would take our chance in this. He doesn't owe us anything and a good, strong pace and a tight-bunched field should suit him Thankfully it paid off.
"I'm delighted to give James Best a good winner. He is a hard worker who rides out on a regular basis. Hopefully he will get more chances, as he is a really nice fellow.
"He was there too soon. Honestly that's what he said. With him you could not have too much confidence.
Tom George, trainer of Double Shuffle, said: "I'm delighted. He made an uncharacteristic mistake three out and he just lost a bit of momentum, but he stayed on well all the way afterwards. He is very much an improving horse on the evidence of that.
"He has 10st 6lb for the National. He won't go to Cheltenham, as he doesn't need to go up and down hills and round dales."
£100,000 added, 5yo plus, 3m, Class 1
Going: Good, Good to Soft in places
|Pos||D||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Pilgrims Bay (IRE) 25/1||James Best
|N P Mulholland||7|
|2nd||½||Double Shuffle (IRE) 11/2||A P Heskin
|T R George||7|
|3rd||2½||Theatre Guide (IRE) 11/1||P J Brennan
|C L Tizzard||10|
|4th||½||Aso (FR) 11/1||Charlie Deutsch (3)
|Miss V Williams||7|
|5th||2¼||Ballykan 11/1||William Twiston-Davies
|N A Twiston-Davies||7|
|6th||½||Three Musketeers (IRE) 5/1||Harry Skelton
|7th||7||Fingerontheswitch (IRE) 12/1||N P Madden
|N P Mulholland||7|
|8th||3||Annacotty (IRE) 33/1||Ian Popham
|9th||1¾||Irish Saint (FR) 9/2f||Sam Twiston-Davies
|P F Nicholls||8|
|10th||18||Opening Batsman (IRE) 14/1||Mr M Legg (5)
|11th||1½||Viva Steve (IRE) 8/1||Thomas Bellamy
|PU||Triolo D'Alene (FR) 16/1||J McGrath
|N J Henderson||10|
|F||Cocktails At Dawn 25/1||Nico de Boinville
|N J Henderson||9|