TOWCESTER RACES: Rooneys fly in from Cheltenham to enjoy victory at Towcester
The media glare might centre on the magnificent Cheltenham Festival this week, but at least one helicopter took off from the centre of Towcester Racecourse on Thursday when high rolling owners Paul and Clare Rooney paid a visit.
The Rooneys have around 125 horses in training, split among a dozen or so trainers and they popped up in rural Northamptonshire to watch 1/4 favourite Sainte Ladylime land the opening contest in remarkable fashion after two days spent at Cheltenham.
Hopefully the helicopter ride towards the Cotswolds proved a much calmer affair than the victory of the Kim Bailey-trained runner as jockey Tom Bellamy endured a precarious time after his saddle slipped.
Perched high up on the horse’s neck and peering between the mare’s ears, Bellamy’s mount was headed by Lemtara Bay on the turn for home only to summon up sufficient purpose and balance to land a two length success.
Paul Rooney said: “That was remarkable and we are proud of Tom. It was especially nice as his father (Robert) is the clerk of the course here.”
He added: “We have three runners at Cheltenham on Friday with West End Star, Red Spinner and Starchitect although Desoto County was balloted out.”
The Rooneys, who live in Scotland and were accompanied by their racing manager and injury sidelined jockey Jason Maguire, also had three runners at Hexham on Thursday, with My Little Cracker giving them another winner at the Northumberland track.
There was something of a football legends and local theme to Towcester scorers if you chose to link a Rooney runner with beginners’ chase winner Spirit Of Shankly (11/10 second favourite) and Upbeat Cobbler (7/1) in the 3m handicap chase.
Sandwiched between that last pair was the first of two long priced winners as the Grace Harris-trained Grams And Ounces (20/1) landed the 2m handicap hurdle for jockey Michael Nolan.
The colours of Nick Brown Racing were also carried to success during the afternoon when Visible Light (5/2 joint favourite) justified plenty of market support to give
Tyringham trainer Stuart Edmunds his 15th winner since taking over the training reins from the late Renee Robeson, and his 14th this season.
Visible Light has only been at Edmunds’ Fences Farm stables for a month after coming over from Ireland where he was a 15 race maiden. Still being a little untidy at a few of his obstacles he clearly still has untapped potential.
Pearlysteps (11/10 fav) landed the hunters’ chase with Jane Williams in the saddle while 14/1 shot Tara Tavey returned to form for Kevin Bishop’s Bridgwater yard despite the fact the stable also sent out the 2/1 favourite Precious Ground, which finished third.