TOWCESTER RACES: Champion trainer Henderson delivers for Her Majesty at Towcester
Helping The Queen with wedding expenses was never likely to be top of Nicky Henderson's list of priorities at Towcester on Monday afternoon, but the champion trainer delivered nonetheless.
Two days after Prince Harry tied the knot with Meghan Markle, The Queen’s colours were carried to victory by Nico de Boinville in Northamptonshire on board Take To Heart (evens fav) in the three runner 2m 5 1/2f novices’ chase.
It gave Henderson and de Boinville a double following the earlier victory of No Hiding Place (6/4 jt fav) in the 1m 7 1/2f handicap hurdle which took his tally to eight winners at Towcester in the 12 fixtures they have staged since October.
You could describe it is ‘champions day’ at Towcester, as champion jockey Richard Johnson also appeared among the credits, winning on board Take Em Out (10/11 fav) in the opening 2m 3f maiden hurdle form Tim Vaughan.
Four outright favourites were successful so with a joint favourite winning, that left Riddlestown as ‘odd horse out’.
That is quite an apt appraisal of Caroline Fryer’s quirky 11 year-old, returned as the 11/4 second favourite in the 3m 1/2f handicap chase.
Fryer quickly agrees her stable star is a touch unpredictable and despite notching a fifth victory at Towcester (seven at Southwell) she wasn’t convinced it would be plain sailing... before and then during the early stages of the length and a half victory from favourite Mercers Court, trained by Neil King and ridden by Bryony Frost.
Fryer said: “He snarled at me this morning and then I wasn’t sure about him over the first couple of fences when he got in a bit close.
“He actually only likes it here except when we ran him on heavy ground, and Southwell.
“I don’t know what we will do during the summer. We will probably take him to Uttoxeter but he isn’t going to like that!”
She added: “The owner will be pleased as we have gone off the 13-winner mark with the horse.”
Jockey Jack Andrews had been gutted to be beaten a week earlier on Riddlestown when appearing to have the race all sewn up and he said: “The horse is a credit to Caroline as he has won in each of the last six years for her.”
The colours of 1996 Grand National winner Rough Quest were carried to victory by Windspiel (13/8 fav) in the 2m handicap chase, the five year-old being ridden by Harry Bannister.
Windspiel is owned by David Wates and trained by David Arbuthnot at Beare Green near Dorking in Surrey. Arbuthnot said: “We may keep Windspiel going during the summer but he is a nice sort.
“We buried Rough Quest at home the other year after he lived to the age of 30.”