TOWCESTER REPORT: Magic moment as 66/1 shot storms to victory

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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 on Thursday.

In the week of Prince Harry’s engagement to Meghan Markle, 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.

Royal Magic’s success was ironic as the following contest saw Dickin 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 have a winner last week, we have had a generally quiet time of late 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 in the past.”

There was only one other winning favourite on 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.

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!