Royal Magic, trained by 2008 Gold Cup winning jockey Sam Thomas and ridden by Adrian Heskin, rode the first 66/1 winner at Towcester for 12 and a half years last week.
In the week of Prince Harry’s engagement to Meghan Markle, and all the predictable media fascination, the aptly named five-year-old gelding won the opening 2m 5f novices’ hurdle by a length and three quarters from Linenhall, making virtually all of the running in the process.
It was May 27, back in 2005 that Nautic took a novices’ hurdle in the sunshine at 66/1, in what turned out to be his only victory in a 24-race career for trainer Robin Dickin.
Prior to that, The Pecker Dunn was a 66/1 Towcester winner on February 22, 2004 for Welsh handler Nikki Sharpe. Local trainer Stuart Edmunds, whose runner Pull Together was still going extremely well when falling three from home, will doubtless recall 100/1 winner Cetti’s Warbler in December, 2003, when he was established as assistant trainer to the
late Renee Robeson at Tyringham.
Since Nautic, there have been a brace of 50/1 winners, this feat achieved by both Hinton Thunderbolt for Venetia Williams at a Boxing Day meeting in 2007/08 and Auditor for Simon Lewis the following season, although who can ever forget Ben Pollock and Tom Messenger teaming up with the quirky Never Awol in 2004 at those attractive odds?
Royal Magic’s success was ironic as the following chase contest saw Dickin, who trains near Alcester in Warwickshire, enter the winner’s enclosure with Some Finish, a 9/4 favourite in the 2m 5f handicap chase, ridden by Jack Quinlan.
Dickin said: “Although we had a winner last week, it has generally been a quiet time of late for us so once again it a case of ‘Towcester to the rescue’. When you need a bit of help you tend to come back to places where you have done well in the past and we have always been regular visitors here.”
Some Finish also captured the odd racing headline when scoring under Charlie Poste in a 3m handicap chase at the Northamptonshire track in April. What began as a three-runner contest was quickly wiped out by the falls of Minmore Grey and Kapricorne which left Poste alone to nurse his mount round unattended for the best part of a circuit and a half.
There was only one other winning favourite on last Thursday’s card with Spice Girl (5/2) taking the 1m 7 1/2f mares’ novices’ hurdle ridden by Harry Stock who is trainer Martin Keighley’s stable conditional rider.
Stock reacted to an urgent call from Keighley to drive the 45 miles from Keighley’s Cotswolds base in just over an hour to take the mount after champion jockey Richard Johnson gave up his remaining rides following a fall from Aaron Lad in the opener.
Stock had won on Spice Girl on the filly’s previous two outings and was also successful on Raving Bonkers at Towcester’s first fixture of the season so he is clearly a talented young rider to keep an eye upon.
Perfect Pirate was a hurdling winner at Towcester last December and scored a 2m 4f novice chase success back at the Northamptonshire track in the novices’ chase at odds of 3/1 while local trainer Paul Webber enjoyed another Towcester win with Cosmic Diamond, following the success of Copperfacejack here in October. Cosmic Diamond won the 2m 5f handicap hurdle under Gavin Sheehan at odds of 5/1.
Bastien (5/1) turned what looked a competitive 2m 5f handicap hurdle into a comfortable win, coming home by four and a half lengths from Who’s My Jockey. The runner-up was aptly named as he was another due to have been ridden by Johnson!
The next Towcester National Hunt fixture is on Thursday, December 21, when the action is due to get underway at 12.25pm.
THE run of success enjoyed by Tyringham trainer Stuart Edmunds continued when Classic Ben took a 2m 4f novices’ hurdle under Ciaran Gethings on Monday. It was Edmunds’ 10th winner of the campaign.
Equally on form is Edgcote trainer Alex Hales who has some intriguing entries over the weekend with Big Jim and Huntsmansman Son due to tackle fences at Sandown on Friday while Topper Thornton is set for Aintree on Saturday.