The former Guillaume Macaire trained Fire Dancer (9/4) overcame an absence of 815 days to win on his first start for Venetia Williams at Ludlow on Friday. Racing off a mark of 114, the seven year old underwent wind surgery since his last appearance in France and produced a splendid round of jumping to win the two and a half miles novices' handicap chase by a head. The winning margin flattered the runner-up because Charlie Deutsch never had to get serious aboard his mount. The Martaline gelding has only raced a handful of times over fences and, provided his health issues are behind him, there are plenty more races to be won with him. Having shown a slight tendency to jump to his right, he will be even more effective racing left handed. He looks a nice addition to Rich and Susannah Ricci's team of horses.
Half an hour earlier, it was hard to believe Top 40 entry Impose Toi didn't win on his hurdles / British debut in the two miles five maiden hurdle. Nicky Henderson's French recruit was keen early on and, that plus an absence of 263 days, caught him out late on. James Bowen's mount outclassed his opponents for four fifths of the contest until getting tired late on. His jumping was slick and, while this was a minor reversal, he looks a smashing horse for the future. A drop back in distance wouldn't go amiss and the five year old ought to be hard to beat next time.
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