Mister Whitaker made a successful start to the campaign with victory in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle.
Mick Channon’s six-year-old won the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March when last seen and defied a 236-day layoff to land the prestigious Listed prize by two and a quarter lengths from Happy Diva.
Well-backed evens favourite Cyrname cut out the running and jumped boldly for Harry Cobden at the head of affairs. He was still leading on the turn for home but the chasing pack had closed up, led by Dan Skelton’s Rene’s Girl.
Happy Diva was sweeping around the outside between the final couple of fences, while Adrian Heskin was looking to deliver Mister Whitaker late in the piece.
The plan worked to perfection on the 3/1 chance, a bad mistake at the last doing for Rene’s Girl, and Mister Whitaker came between horses to take it up and run out a ready winner.
Channon’s young star has an entry in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham later this month and Sky Bet reacted by making him their 7/1 market leader (from 9/1). He is also in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on December 1 and can be backed at 25/1 for that three mile, two furlong feature.
Previous winners of the Colin Parker Memorial include Many Clouds, Saphir Du Rheu, L’Antartique and Little Josh, the latter pair both going on to win the BetVictor (formerly Paddy Power Gold Cup) at Cheltenham later in the month.
Channon said: “Obviously we’re very pleased.
“We knew he was a good horse after Cheltenham, but it’s great that he’s come back and shown it again.
“What this horse does have is a turn of foot. He’s not the biggest – but if you have that turn of foot it’s a big asset.”
He added: “The horse won’t be home until tomorrow (Monday). So we’ll see how he is, and I’ll have a chat with Tim (Radford, owner) and Hen (Knight) and see which way we go.
“That (BetVictor Gold Cup) is the obvious race, but it is only 13 days away – so we’ll see.”
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