Honeyball ponders next move with Don Lami

Don Lami and his connections following bumper success at Fontwell
Don Lami and his connections following bumper success at Fontwell

He was arguably the most exciting winner on the card. But Don Lami's debut victory at Fontwell has left trainer Anthony Honeyball scratching his head.

The four-year-old son of Honolulu won the JEB Construction Ltd ‘The Baron Of Holybourne’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race by six lengths on Friday.

It followed up a five-length triumph in his sole Irish point-to-point at Fairyhouse in April, where he showcased his potential over fences.

You would be forgiven for predicting a swift move to hurdles, where the French-bred gelding could make use of that jumping ability.

But Honeyball refused to dismiss a bumper campaign for his charge following the good-ground victory over an extended 2m 1f.

In the hands of David Noonan, Don Lami held off Gary Moore’s It’s Got Legs up the hill, with early leader Inaminna a further 20 lengths adrift in third.

Meanwhile, a total of 178 lengths covered the eight finishers as the race was blown to pieces on the West Sussex course.

The Dorset trainer said: ‘It will be interesting to watch it again but it was nice to win a bumper like that where, apart from the one horse, the rest had gone.

‘From halfway down the back straight they were some distance back and nothing was ever getting into it then.

‘I thought the conditions would suit him and he did everything we have seen at home. He was a bit green but looked like he stayed well and appreciated the ground.

‘I’m not sure how we will play it with him now. You don’t necessarily watch a race like that and think he is going to win a Listed bumper at Cheltenham, do you?

‘But he could improve a lot and you wouldn’t be mad to have a go. So I don’t know what we’ll do next with him.

‘He is only four, so we’ll have to see. Sometimes you see them go over the line and think I know what race that one is going for next!

‘I didn’t really have that on Friday. I guess I was just pleased to get the job done at Fontwell and at least it shows he has a good bit of ability.’

Honeyball, who has won more races at Fontwell (29) than any other course, purchased Don Lami for 55,000 euros at the Punchestown sales in April.

Stable-mate Tacenda, who had kicked off a double on the card for the Mosterton yard, came from the same auction 12 months earlier.

Honeyball added: ‘His point-to-point win was a funny race. He was in fourth, nicely there but maybe done for a bit of toe when at least two fell either side of him.

‘That distorted the race a little. He wasn’t a classic 10-length Irish point winner, although I think he might have won anyway.

‘I watched the video again and again and thought he was always galloping home, so decided to see if I could pinch a bit of value.

‘If he had gone and won that by five lengths and everything had stood up, he would have gone for 150,000 or 200,000 euros.’