ALEX Hales was thrilled to see Big Jim repeat his win of two years ago in the Betfred Mobile Edward Courage Cup at Warwick – especially as the race is closely linked to his Edgcote yard, near Banbury.

The Courage family used to own the Edgcote estate and Edward Courage trained the likes of Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup winner Spanish Steps and Champion Chase hero Royal Relief at Trafford Bridge Stables, where Hales is now based.

Big Jim put his rivals to the sword with a slick display of front-running jumping under Harry Bannister in the two-mile handicap chase before holding off Imjoeking by a length and three-quarters.

And Hales commented: “It is lovely to win a race that has a connection with the estate, where we train now.”

Big Jim had run just five times since his Warwick win in 2016, and his handler added: “He is a difficult horse with his immune system. He has actually been a sound horse, but he has been difficult to get absolutely right.

“He disappointed me at Lingfield. I thought he would win that day and he has just not really bounced until the last two weeks when we have been happy with him.

“It’s nice to have him back. He is a lovely horse.

“When Kielan Woods, who sadly couldn’t be here – he is at Wetherby – rode him two years ago it was exactly the same.

“He took them to bits down the back (straight) and Harry gave him a great ride to do the same today.”

Chipping Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon ended a frustrating run of near-misses when Fly Home Harry regained winning ways at Huntingdon.

The nine-year-old gelding, who had been pulled up at Leicester after triumphing on his previous start at Ludlow, ground out a two-and-three-quarter-length success over Global Domination in a handicap chase over an extended two miles and seven furlongs under Paul O’Brien.

Longsdon said of the 7-1 shot: “That is the first winner of the new year – we’ve had six or seven seconds and a few thirds.

“From the first fence at Leicester we knew he was beaten. Paul O’Brien’s very good value for his 5lb claim and that makes a big difference.”

On the Flat, Goring produced a career-best performance for Eve Johnson Houghton’s Blewbury stables, near Didcot, to complete a hat-trick of course-and-distance wins at Lingfield.

The six-year-old gelding responded well to Charlie Bishop’s urgings to hold off Surrey Hope by a neck and claim his third successive mile handicap on the Polytrack.

And Sovereign Duke got off the mark for Wantage trainer Henry Candy with a thrilling head success at Kempton.