A first and last race Towcester double for leading trainer Alan King proved for the umpteenth time this winter that the Wiltshire handler is in red hot form, and that with the Cheltenham Festival just around the corner.
Towcester visits might not be at the top of King’s most wanted list but William H Bonney provided King’s Barbury Castle stables with a third victory in Northamptonshire inside two months and Laser Light made it four in the bumper less than three hours later.
William H Bonney was the real name of American outlaw Billy The Kid and there was plenty of market confidence behind a horse sent off at the virtually unbackable odds of 1/4.
In truth, the winning margin of a length and three quarters from Chic Theatre could hardly be termed ‘emphatic’, but for those who remember King’s 2/17 favourite Bourbon Manhattan being turned over here by 100/1 winner Cetti’s Warbler in 2003, any sort of victory sufficed.
Willam H Bonney was already the winner of a Plumpton hurdle in December and King intimated this five year-old would one day be seen to better effect over fences although handicap hurdling next season would come first.
Richard Johnson rode William H Bonney and the champion jockey elect doubled up just over an hour later with Kelsey (6/1) in the 18-runner handicap hurdle, the winner trained by Tom Lacey in Herefordshire.
Johnson brought Kelsey with a powerful run around the outside to win going away – no mean feat in itself in the soft ground – from runner-up Young Lou which provided evidence Robin Dickin’s horses are returning to form.
Johnson was unable to complete a treble with his remaining mounts Dolores Delight or Parting Way while Daryl Jacob rode King’s second winner of the afternoon, Laser Light returned at 4/6 favourite in the National Hunt Flat race.
The day’s other two hurdle contests saw 8/1 shot Streets Of Promise come home seven lengths clear of Timon’s Tara, the runner-up once again supplied by Warwickshire trainer Dickin, while the second division of the novices’ hurdle went to 11/1 winner Georgian Firebird trained by Barry Leavy near Stoke-on-Trent and ridden by 5lbs claiming jockey Ciaran Gethings.
The two chases on the card saw 11/2 chance Emma Soda finally collar long time leader Leith Hill Legasi at the last fence to take the Jim Dimmock 50 Years In Racing Memorial Handicap Chase, the winner being trained by Paul Davies, also based in Herefordshire.
Devon handler Susan Gardner was out feeding her horses at 5am before driving the horse box three and a half hours to Northamptonshire but the journey proved worthwhile when her daughter Lucy rode Bredon Hill Lad (5/2 fav) to victory in the 2m 4f handicap chase.