TOWCESTER RACES: Oliver scores welcome winner with Signed Request

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Signed Request took Henry Oliver off the cold list at Towcester despite the fact the nine year-old gelding had been retired six months ago.

Oliver hadn’t enjoyed a winner with his last 21 runners but Signed Request, a previous course scorer over hurdles, landed the 2m 5 1/2f handicap chase as the 11/4 favourite.

He stayed on resolutely up the stands’ side to lead approaching the last fence and win by 10 lengths under Jeremiah McGrath from runner-up Some Finish.

Oliver and his wife Heather were greeted in the winner’s enclosure by fellow trainer Richard Guest, who has close family connections to the Olivers, and who only two days earlier had bade a sad farewell to 2001 Grand National winner Red Marauder, who died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 26 at Guest’s Yorkshire base.

Oliver said: “I used to ride for Richard and he is godfather to my daughter. Signed Request was virtually the last horse I rode a winner on at Bangor in 2013.”

Guest quipped: “I think it’s my £20 that has made the difference for Henry. He told me to back it although he hasn’t been able to buy a winner just lately.”

Trainer Fergal O’Brien elected to go to Taunton yesterday but he is patently in form and saddled a double on the card courtesy of Lord Of The Island (7/1) and Druid’s Folly (15/8 fav) in the 2m 5f handicap hurdle and the 2m 5f novices’ hurdle.

Both horses were ridden by Paddy Brennan with Lord Of The Island getting the better of Movie Legend by five lengths while Druid’s Folly defeated Thomas Shelby by three-quarters of a length.

Irish trainer John Joseph Hanlon is known in the industry as ‘Shark’ and his persistence in sending three runners across the Irish Sea after twice being thwarted by Storm Angus was rewarded when Adarenna (7/1) took the Weatherbys Novices’ Handicap Chase over 2m from Distant Rain.

Hanlon said: “Adarenna is very well bred and will come over again and win in England.”

Hughie Morrison is better known as a trainer on the Flat but has been successful at Towcester in the past with horses such as Cecily Parsley which won twice and was second here over fences between March and April 2012 and Sister Sibyl was gone some way to emulating her after adding a maiden hurdle success to her bumper win here last December.

Sister Sibyl (11/4) was eased to a length and a quarter success from Tinted Rose.

In the day’s other contests, Tullow Tonic (5/1) took the mares’ handicap hurdle for fledgling trainer Tom Weston while Mick Maestro (11/2) landed the bumper for Tom George and AP Heskin.