Owner Frank Mahon admitted it was “wonderful” to back on track after celebrating being given the all clear from cancer on Monday in perfect fashion by watching his pride and joy Pink Legend (6-1) secure victory in the Pertemps Lady Protectress Mares’ Chase at Huntingdon this afternoon.
The 70 year old, who was making his first appearance on a racecourse in three years, saw his four-hour drive down from Formby made worthwhile following the victory of the Venetia Williams-trained eight year old in the feature Listed prize over 2m 4f.
Although delighted to be back in the winner’s enclosure, the Merseyside based-owner admitted that it was only the results of his horses that had helped keep his “head up” during what has been a difficult 36 months.
Mahon said: “This is the first time I have been on a racecourse for three years as I’ve been unwell. This is first time I have been allowed out on my own.
“I had good news on Monday. I had cancer and I’ve come through the chemotherapy and I’m back on the racecourse now.
“The form of the horses kept me going right the way through as we have had some good winners with Venetia. This mare has now won at Cheltenham, Ascot and Huntingdon, which was the most valuable race of the lot.
“It has been a long haul but I’m here. If you are locked away for three years it isn’t great. The wife Elaine has been great and she has looked after me.
“It is the first time she has let me out on my own. She only let me out as my two pals escorted me here.
“When I was really poorly Pink Legend won at Bangor and that really gave me a lift as I was half way through chemotherapy which doesn’t make you feel very good. It just gave me that fillip to keep my head up.
“Everyone where we will live backs her and they call her “The Legend”. I know my two pals backed her but I didn’t bother myself.”
Turning for home it looked as though Pink Legend would have to settle for a place at best with 4-6 favourite Vienna Court appearing to have her rivals in trouble. However, her Grade One winning-handler was confident she would prevail.
Venetia Williams said: “I am so thrilled for Frank as he has bred her, and her full-sister Eleanor Bob who recently won a lower key race at Exeter.
“She wasn’t going forward at one or two of her obstacles but what was giving me hope that they had been going a good gallop. She doesn’t give up and I thought they might just come back to her.
“They’ve gone a good gallop all the way and that gave me encouragement that they will get tired. I have to say jumping the last down the back I turned to Frank and said she is going to win this and then she nearly gave it away on the run in.”
Pink Legend was introduced at 33-1 for the Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase at The Festival™ at Cheltenham in March, which Williams hinted could now be an option.
She said: “If you had asked me an hour ago about Cheltenham I would have probably said no but I would probably say yes now.
“She is going to go up in the handicap and that reduces her alternative options.”
Looking beyond the current campaign Mahon, who was making his first visit to the Cambridgeshire track, admitted that he is likely to keep Pink Legend in training next season alongside her full sister Eleanor Bob, who he hopes could reach a similar level in time.
Mahon added: “We will look after her as hopefully, she will make a nice broodmare. Her full-sister is pretty good.
“She had been ill for a couple of years but we got her back last week so we are looking forward to her.
“I think we will keep her in training now as we were thinking about retiring her as she is an elite mare as she has her black type but when you see prizes like this you have got to have a go.
“I’m really impressed with this place. Hopefully, we will come back here. If you get soft going here, we could come back with Eleanor Bob next year.”
Trainer James Evans insisted the surprise success of Risk And Roll in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (3m 1f) was “little tribute” to late Grand National winning jockey Liam Treadwell.
The eight-year-old proved a cut above his rivals when running out a decisive seven-length winner of the 3m 1f contest which Evans was quick to dedicate to Treadwell, who passed away in June 2020.
Evans said of the 33-1 winner: “His owner Barry Preece asked us to buy a horse that could hopefully be a Saturday horse. This is a little bit of a tribute to Liam Treadwell as he was a big mate of Liam’s
“Liam rode Trackmate to win a Pertemps qualifier at Cheltenham in 2013 and that was the first proper horse Barry had but Liam was a very lucky jockey for us.
“Matt Sheppard recommended this one at the sales and we were hoping he was a decent horse. He had a run in the autumn but something was amiss.
“We kept our fingers crossed he would win a big pot but it has arrived earlier than we thought.”