Not even Tony McCoy managed to sign off in the saddle with a winner but Sam Jones, a jockey with strong Northamptonshire roots, achieved exactly that at Towcester on Thursday evening.
The 26 year-old had two mounts on the first official day of the 2015/16 National Hunt season and after a fall on Fort Gabriel, went out with a bang and a splash as Kayla (9/2) prevailed by half a length following a titanic tussle with Just A Feeling from the Paul Webber yard in the concluding bumper.
Jones, whose career highlight was a 2007 Cheltenham Festival success in the Coral Cup, was riding for his uncle Stuart Edmunds’ yard at Tyringham near Newport Pagnell and received rapturous applause in the winner’s enclosure.
Not only that, he has doused with buckets of water by weighing room colleagues as the night ended in an atmosphere of high jinks and fairytales coming true.
Jones goes straight into a new job as whipper-in for the Bicester Hunt and will be the fourth generation of his family to perform that role.
He will always keep a soft spot for Kayla, a mare who was making only her third racecourse start after twice being outpaced at Fakenham’s contrasting flat track.
Edmunds said: “She was the first one off the bridle yet the last one to crack. She is tough and stays so that is why we brought her here.”
Dave Crosse led the water barrage to hasten Jones’s post-race shower and he earlier rode a winner in the form of course specialist Beauchamp Viking (9/2) in the 2m handicap chase.
It came after a ding dong battle with Red Whisper which had narrowly thwarted Beauchamp Viking here 29 days earlier. The pair have now won five times at Towcester between them.
Anna Brooks admitted to having had a wretched time with her string based just a stone’s throw from the course up the A5 at Alderton. She only has three horses in training at present, but Drombeg West (10/1) was another previous course winner to lift the blues on Thursday.
What appeared a trappy 2m handicap hurdle turned into a seven length romp for the eight year-old mare in the hands of Andrew Tinkler who had ridden at Sedgefield earlier in the afternoon. In fact, Tinkler only signed in to secure the mount with 10 seconds to spare after his journey from County Durham.
Pennant Dancer, the 7/2 favourite in the opening 2m 5f handicap hurdle, had run second in this race a year ago but went one better after Paul Moloney produced a dramatic late rattle to haul in Canarbino Girl, which had been a couple of lengths clear at the final flight.