Midnight Shot hits the target for Longsdon at Cheltenham

Chipping Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon sent out an early winner at Cheltenham

Chipping Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon sent out an early winner at Cheltenham

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Chipping Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon saddled Midnight Shot to land the spoils on the opening day of Cheltenham’s new season.

A fine front-running performance under Aidan Coleman saw the six-year-old land Friday’s Join The Jockey Club Ownership Syndicate Handicap Hurdle.

I didn’t really expect him to control the race but it was a really good, strong performance

Trainer Charlie Longsdon

The son of Midnight Legend kept finding more and came home three and a quarter lengths clear of 5/1 favourite Valhalla for the Colin Tizzard and Richard Johnson combination.

The Hull Farm handler said: “Midnight Shot fractured his skull here last year when he was brought down by a horse that clipped heels.

“It ruined the middle half of the season because it took him three runs to get his confidence back and it was only at the end of the season that he started getting going. It probably gave him the chance to start this season slightly better handicapped than normal.

“I didn’t really expect him to control the race, the instructions were if he ends up in front, fine, but just ride him wherever he is comfortable. Aidan gave him a lovely ride and he got into a beautiful rhythm which makes all the difference around here, it was a really good, strong performance.

“This was the initial plan and Aidan said it is worth running him in a Pertemps Qualifier to see if he gets three miles. If he does that will open up plenty of doors, especially in the spring at Cheltenham or Aintree or wherever. He is an improving horse and hopefully he will improve again.”