Fingal Bay was the subject of much deliberation after his performance in the Harry Dutfield Memorial Novices' Chase at Exeter yesterday.
It was a muddling pace with Richard Johnson faced with no option but to make the going in the three-runner race on the Philip Hobbs-trained six-year-old. But the gelding, who had looked so impressive at Chepstow in October, was clearly unhappy in front and his jumping became progressively worse until Andrew Thornton took up the running on Ashbourne Folly.
When Johnson pushed him to the front again, Fingal Bay fell apart, ducking out through the wing three from home, leaving the Tom George-trained Chartreux to win by 40 lengths.
Johnson had a desperate afternoon and it was not until the concluding bumper that things picked up with Sarah Faulkes' home-bred Comte d'Anjou winning.
It was the second leg of a double for trainer Nick Williams, who earlier had saddled The Italian Yob to win the first division of the novices' hurdle for The Macaroni Beach Partnership, a syndicate of four who initially met in a bar on the beach in Mustique. The second division went to Billy Dutton. Trainer Chris Down said: "James [Davies] gave him a cracking ride. I've always loved his horse and he'll make a nice chaser one day."
The four-mile Axminster Carpets Devon Marathon had looked a competitive race on paper, but it was the game Arbor Supreme who kept finding more on the long run for him to win at 16-1.
His jockey Maurice Linehan punched the air as he crossed the line after persuading his owner JP McManus to keep him in training.
David Pipe scored in the opener with Home Run giving 8lb claimer Samuel Welton the second win of his career and the Tim Vaughan-trained The Big Freeze justified favouritism in the handicap chase when getting up to win by a nose.