It was a good race, wasn’t it? They went fast and didn’t hang about. He was badly in need of a run and will come on a ton.

Thursday: Carlisle

The first race of Carlisle’s jumps season produced a rarity as a photo-finish was called to the two-runner novice handicap chase with high-class hurdler Tommy’s Oscar just edging out Geromino.

The race-fit Geromino, sent off the 8-13 favourite, set the tempo under Brian Hughes with Danny McMenamin happy to take a lead on Tommy’s Oscar.

Geromino still held sway on the run-in but Tommy’s Oscar closed in on his rival, who was in receipt of 17lb, in the final strides and the pair flashed past the post together.

The judge called a photo before announcing Tommy’s Oscar the 11-8 winner by a head.

Although a close match, it was not as tight as the dead-heat called in a two-runner race at Wolverhampton in February when jockey Liam Keniry rode his 1,000th winner on Havana Goldrush.

Owner Ian Hamilton was delighted by Tommy’s Oscar’s chase debut and feels the Grade 2 hurdle winner will improve plenty for his comeback run.

“It was a good race, wasn’t it? They went fast and didn’t hang about. He was badly in need of a run and will come on a ton,” he said.

“He jumped like a buck and straight as a dye, so he’s a super jumper. We only schooled him once but he’s run in point-to-points in the past.”

Next month’s Grade 1 Fighting Fifth at Newcastle had been mooted as an early target for Tommy’s Oscar, but the seven-year-old could stay over fences.

“We’ll look at the valuable graduation race here next month [November 7] and if he goes and wins that we’ll probably stop over fences. A lot of people say you shouldn’t go back to hurdles [once you go chasing] but I’m pleased we’ve got him and he’s a fair horse.”

Hamilton and wife Ann have excelled with a small team of horses at their Northumberland farm and they took on the big yards in last season’s Champion Hurdle, in which Tommy’s Oscar beat only one home.

“He just got a bit upset when we set off from home. I’m sure he was thinking about Cheltenham,” added Hamilton. “He was stomping about in the box and we had to stop and change his rug and he was sweating, but he settled down and he was all right when we got here. He’s a bit temperamental.

“It just wound him up too much at Cheltenham. He ran away going to the start and ran away during the race and then into the back of a horse, so it all went to pot really. There were 65,000 people shouting in his ear and he just didn’t like it.”

Dark Horse double

The Dark Horse Racing syndicate enjoyed a double courtesy of Mulberry Hill in the conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle and Court Dreaming in the 3m½f handicap chase.

Marten Julian, author of the Dark Horses Annual, was among those hoping for a treble, but the dreams were dashed when the syndicate’s leading bumper contender School Days Over was withdrawn after being kicked by another runner at the start.

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