YOU won’t see a bigger smile at any racecourse this week.
Jockey, owner and all-round racing fan David Maxwell survived a stewards’ enquiry to win the opening Novices’ Hurdle at Exeter and was as proud as punch with his new recruit Cat Tiger.
A Grade 3 winner in France, Cat Tiger is being lined up for an ambitious shot at the Foxhunters next season and had Maxwell grinning from ear to ear afterwards.
Already rated 142 over hurdles and trained by Paul Nicholls, the five-year-old was a warm order for the opening heat and Maxwell set out to cut out the running.
He travelled much the best but a game Welsh Saint challenged on the run in and a small drift across the track meant the stewards called in Maxwell and jockey James Bowen.
But the placings remained unaltered and Maxwell let out a sigh of relief.
He told Sun Racing: “Hes a really lovely horse, hes one of my favourites and I was devastated when he got beaten first time up at Worcester.
“It was a bit short of a trip, we didnt go any gallop and I should have kicked on. But you know getting the sectionals right is about making sure you have your eye in and that was only my second ride of the season.
“I feel better now though and we went a better pace there and he just gallops, hes an out and out galloper.
“I want him for the Foxhunters in 2021. Well keep him novice hurdling for this season I would think but well see. Hes won a Grade 3 in France over fences so the form is there.”
It’s not just Cat Tiger that Maxwell has to look forwards to. The owner come jockey has changed the type of horse he tries to buy and you can expect more young French horses to excel over the next months.
He added: “Im changing tactics slightly with the horses I get in that they are a bit younger. The horses Im buying in France do have plenty of experience though.
“They have a natural way of going as they start out at three and four, but they dont have much out there for them so it makes sense to bring them here.
“Lots of them are actually qualified as novice hurdlers so its also good when they come over here for more experience.
“The hunter chasers are hard to find. Good older horses dont come by easily as people wont let them go if theyre still good and producing results.
“So if I can find them younger and bring them through myself I get to know them better and you obviously get more value out of them.”
And having a man like Paul Nicholls in your corner will only help Maxwell as he dreams big.
He chuckled: “Ive been having fun with these young French horses and Paul Nicholls is perfect with them.
“Paul just is young French horses, hes made a career out of training them and excelling with them.”
Passionate people are what make this game, without them the sport would be in trouble. Maxwell gets some stick in some corners, but is having the time of his life and who can blame him?