Epatante put her hat firmly in the Mares’ Hurdle ring with another dominant performance in the Grade Two Sky Bet Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle for Nico De Boinville and Nicky Henderson.
The race proved to be little more than an exercise canter for the nine-year-old, who sauntered clear between the final two obstacles and put half a dozen lengths between her and eventual second Salsada, without ever coming out of second gear.
She had been chasing stablemate Constitution Hill in vain this season so far, but the step to Grade Two level proved crucial as the former Champion Hurdle heroine showed her class on Town Moor.
That victory saw the star mare cut into 4/1 for Mares’ Hurdle success, behind 11/4 favourite and stablemate Marie’s Rock.
“She was fantastic today. I thought she jumped really well, travelled away great and it’s nice for her to pick one up like this,” De Boinville said.
“The team have got her into great shape for today. She felt fantastic in herself and it’ll be interested to see where everyone goes at Cheltenham.”
Tommy’s Oscar delivers in Lightning
Tommy’s Oscar gave Ian and Ann Hamilton another Graded victory in the MND Association Race For Research Lightning Novices’ Chase, seeing off odds-on favourite Boothill in the process.
Danny McMenamin snuck up the inside rail throughout and managed to hit the front turning for home, whilst Boothill and Jonathan Burke moved wide.
But whilst Tommy’s Oscar was cruising, Boothill was under pressure and couldn’t pick up the leader, who eventually flew over the last and pulled clear to win by over five lengths.
The victory provided McMenamin with one of his biggest ever victories, and admitted the stable star – who will not be running at the Cheltenham Festival – owes him nothing.
“He felt like he was back to himself there. He jumped a lot better – the last day he was jumping out to his right but today he only did that at the end.
“He travelled, he jumped and all credit to the team because they’ve got him back to his old form.
“He’s a very good horse in our eyes, he owes us nothing and he definitely owes me nothing!”
Winning trainer Ann Hamilton added: “I think he’s turned a corner. The yard has been under a cloud lately but he’s turned the corner today, he looks a different horse today.
“After the two years, it’s been very quiet. I think we are getting better.”