Hansard defied a welter burden to win the Bet In Race With Coral Intermediate Handicap Hurdle at Newbury for Niall Houlihan and Gary Moore.
Saddled with top-weight due to some smart form in novices, he dwarfed many of his rivals in the race registered as the Gerry Feilden.
Beaten less than four lengths in a Grade One at Aintree by Henry de Bromhead’s Inthepocket at the Grand National meeting, he had made a satisfactory return to action when second to Rubaud in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.
With Jamie Moore sidelined with a serious injury, his father has put plenty of faith in Houlihan and he continues to repay him.
Houlinhan saved every inch of ground on the inner but he looked booked for a place at best two out as Bad and Brentford Hope set a target. Arguably Under Control was travelling the best at that stage, but she was almost pulled up on crossing the line having faded tamely.
With Brentford Hope failing to pick up on ground quicker than ideal, Hansard dug deep and the 15-2 shot went on to win by three-quarters of a length.
“We were very lucky to get him and it was very nice of Noel (Fehily, syndicate manager) to send him to me. He’s a very nice horse and he’s big enough to jump fences one day, whether he does or not I don’t know,” said Moore.
“Wincanton and the pace of the race took the fizz out of him, they went hard from the word go which suits him.
“He’s in the valuable race at Ascot (Betfair Exchange Trophy, December 23) just before Christmas and after that it just depends what the handicapper does to him as we could be in trouble if we over-race him.
“He does all the right things that make you think he could be (a Pattern performer) but he has to improve again.
“He wouldn’t want to run tomorrow but he’s a hardy horse who takes his racing well.”
When asked about a possible crack at the Betfair Hurdle back at Newbury over the same course and distance, Moore said: “Absolutely, but I don’t think he could win that with 12st.”
Fehily said: “I was delighted with that and he’s a horse we liked last year as a novice.
“I was a bit disappointed maybe with his run at Wincanton the last day and I think maybe he is learning to settle a bit better now and they went fast today which suited him.
“I feel a bit sorry for Jamie Moore today, he has been fantastic and I’m sorry he’s missed it as he loves this horse. But it was a great performance and we’re very happy.
“He’s got a big step up to get into Grade Once company, but to win a handicap like that off top-weight, he probably is a Graded horse now. I’ll speak to Gary and see what the plan is, but we’re going in the right direction anyway.”