Richie McLernon admitted that riding a winner on his 36th birthday made him “feel 21 again” after striking on the Neil Mulholland-trained Lord Accord (15-2) on day two of The Showcase at Cheltenham this afternoon.
The seven year old arrived for the 888Sport Is Made To Play Handicap Chase fit after a pipe opener over hurdles at Worcester last month and he built on a promising novice campaign last term with a likeable display here, putting his rivals to the sword courtesy of a perfect round of jumping to score by four and a half lengths.
It was a performance which delighted McLernon, who feels there could be more to come yet from the son of Yeats. He said: “That was very nice and he jumped superbly, everything just went to plan. Fair play to Neil as he had him right. I was just concentrating on my own lad throughout to be honest and he was in a great rhythm. He never lost momentum so I was very happy with him.
“He’s not had many goes and he’s still only filling his frame, so he could be a nice horse to go forward with. I am delighted for the owners Lynne and Angus Maclennan as they are very nice people and I’m thrilled to get a winner on my birthday! That winner made me feel like I was 21 for sure!”
Meanwhile, the winning trainer suggested next month’s Coral Gold Cup at Newbury as a possible target for his charge. He added: He's a nice staying chaser and it helped having the recent run under his belt.
“He does jump and stay so it is races like the Coral Gold Cup that you should be aiming for and having a look at. This horse wouldn't want it too soft which is why Newbury might suit him. We'll run him wherever the ground is nice.”
The opening race was the 888Sport Novices' Hurdle over three miles, which saw the Paul Nicholls-trained Shearer (100-30) follow up a recent win at Worcester.
The son of Flemensfirth was named after the footballing superstar by Blackburn Rovers fan and owner Max McNeill and he impressed with his ability to hit the back of the net here, battling to the line well to win by a length and a half after jumping the final flight behind the runner-up Twig.
And Nicholls admitted after the race he may now change his plans with Shearer, who was originally pencilled in for novice chasing this term. He said: “That was a delight to win two with him - he’s improved a bit and strengthened up so it’s just the job. He had sore shins last year which were playing up all the time but he’s got over that and he’s a much better horse now.
“I was fairly confident going to the last as he usually keeps a bit in the tank and Adrian was always going to arrive late. He’s won three of his last four now so he’s getting there, the horse was always just a bit mature and he’s needed the time he’s had – hopefully he can keep on improving.
“We always thought a lot of him when he started off as a baby and Max (McNeill, owner) wanted to call a good one Shearer. Touch wood it’s gone okay so far! We were going to go chasing with him but he’s a novice over hurdles until 1st December so we might look to a hurdle race and put chasing back for a while, there’s no hurry.”