LEE WEAVES HER MAGIC
The decision to run Magic Dancer for the second time this week proved a wise one for trainer Kerry Lee after the well-backed 100/30 favourite came with a withering run to record a five-length success in the Fairlight Books Novices' Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.
The five-year old won at Kempton under promising conditional Richard Patrick, who also rode the gelding today, on Monday and Lee was in two minds whether or not to run Magic Dancer in this race this afternoon.
However, after working out the gelding was likely to go up markedly in the handicap when he was reassessed next week, Lee and the owners of Magic Dancer, Mark E Smith and The Magic Partnership, decided to let the horse take his chance and it proved to be a shrewd choice.
"I can't quite believe it to be honest!" exclaimed Lee after Magic Dancer had provided her with her first ever winner at Cheltenham.
"Richard has given him a fantastic ride - he's very cool and composed. I think it's our first Cheltenham winner together. It's only my third season training so I'm absolutely delighted.
"This is only his third run for me so I'm so happy. He won wonderfully on Monday and, at that stage, it's not really my style to bring them out so quickly.
"Having worked out that he's going to go up quite significantly and the fact he didn't have a penalty today, we had to have a go.
"I'm so pleased. It's brilliant to have a runner at Cheltenham and it was his owners' dream to have a runner here so it's all been brilliant, especially as the owners moved the horse to me recently.
"I'm very lucky to have him. He's an absolute poppet at home - nothing fazes him and nothing is too much bother. He's a fantastic horse to have in the yard.
"When he ran for us first time, I thought we had a nice horse on our hands. He's done nothing but improve since. I'm very lucky to have Richard in the yard too - he's a fantastic work rider and helpful in every way possible."
DANCER FLEET OF FOOT TO PROVIDE MAGIC WIN FOR PATRICK
The well supported 10/3 favourite Magic Dancer made it two victories in as many starts with a decisive success in the Fairlight Books Novices' Handicap Hurdle for conditional rider Richard Patrick and trainer Kerry Lee.
A comfortable winner at Kempton Park on Monday, the five-year-old son of Norse Dancer, always travelled powerfully in today's contest for 5lb claimer Patrick, riding his first winner at Prestbury Park and kept on resolutely up the Cheltenham hill on the stands' side rail to score nicely by five lengths from Evan Williams' Oxwich Bay (9/2) in second.
Tom George's Champagne City (20/1) was a further two and three-quarter lengths back in third, with Oliver Greenall's Zalvados (25/1), three-quarters of a length behind in fourth.
Patrick said: "It's amazing to make a childhood dream come true by riding a winner at Cheltenham. He enjoyed passing horses today, we had a dream run and we didn't have any stops.
"He rallied down to two out and battled all the way to the line - he was very brave.
"I ran round the course earlier and I thought the better ground was on the outside so coming a bit wide, I know we had to run a bit further, but that really helped him.
"He was a very good Flat horse and he has got gears. Magic Dancer's tough and brave - he's a hero of mine!
"It's great to be having plenty of winners for Kerry [Lee, trainer]. She's been amazing to me, we've got a good strike-rate and hopefully we can keep it going."
Patrick added: "I'm very grateful to all the owners and Dave Roberts my agent."
1.15pm Fairlight Books Novices' Handicap Hurdle
1 MAGIC DANCER (Mark Smith & The Magic Partnership) Kerry Lee 5-10-09 Richard Patrick (5) 100/30 Fav
2 Oxwich Bay (David Williams) Evan Williams 5-11-02 Adam Wedge 9/2
3 Champagne City (Roger Brookhouse) Tom George 4-11-10 Adrian Heskin 20/1
4 Zalvados (D C Mercer) Oliver Greenall 4-11-04 Robert Hawker (7) 25/1
Distances: 5, 2¾, ¾, 1¾
Tote Win: £3.90; Places: £1.40; £1.90; £3.90; £6.20
BAY 'BEATEN FAIR AND SQUARE'
Oxwich Bay, ridden by Adam Wedge and trained by Evan Williams, and Champagne City (Adrian Heskin and Tom George) finished second and third behind winning 100/30 favourite Magic Dancer in the Fairlight Books Novices' Handicap Hurdle.
9/2 shot Oxwich Bay was also second at Warwick a week ago (10 November) and his trainer said that the five-year-old son of Westerner would now have a break until Christmas-time.
"He ran well. The handicapper got it right, didn't he? The horse without a penalty [Magic Dancer] beat the horse going up six pounds. The handicapper's happy, that's the main thing!" said Evans.
"I'd say we'll drop him into a maiden hurdle over Christmas. He's badly handicapped now, and he's had two tough runs in a week. No complaints - he's been beaten fair and square by a better handicapped horse."
Tom George, trainer of third-placed Champagne City, said: "I'm delighted. He's run a good, solid race. He was a bit unlucky last time at Chepstow and that scared him slightly, but he's put in a good show today and we've got plenty to look forward to."