Champion jockey Brian Hughes admitted it was ‘great’ to carry the iconic colours of three-time Grand National winner Red Rum to glory at Huntingdon today after steering Blueberry Wine to victory in the feature Bet at racingtv.com Handicap Chase.
Sporting the silks of syndicate Red Rum Racing 2, which is named after the 1973, 1974 and 1977 Grand National hero, the gelded son of Dylan Thomas secured win number four over fences when making his first visit to the course a triumphant one.
Appearing booked for second over the last the Donald McCain-trained 11-2 chance made the most of the late drift over to the stands side rail by leader, and likely looking winner Captain Broomfield, before prevailing by three quarters of a length.
Hughes said: “This guy is improving. He won two over fences the season before last and we thought he would win at Market Rasen but he came back with a problem and he had a bit of time off.
“He won second time out this year at Bangor on ground that was soft enough for him. He is a grand horse that will pay his way through the summer.
“He got a bit fortunate as the other horse was three or four lengths in front of me and he went across the other side of the track which swung the advantage back in my way, but you need a bit of luck.
“I’ve just said to the owners about these being the Red Rum colours which is great. Any winner you ride though is good.”
Although favourite to secure a fourth jump jockeys’ title Hughes believes he will have plenty of competition on his hands from those attempting to wrestle away his crown.
He added: “There are a lot of good jockeys and a lot of lads that are riding really well. You are always going to have contenders as that is the nature of sport.
“I will try my best to win it again. Hopefully everyone stays fit and healthy and we all get a good crack at it.”
The new Jump campaign might not get into full swing until October however trainer Nicky Henderson celebrated another winner in what promises to be a busy month after Park Hill Dancer got the better of a late battle in the Racing TV Maiden Hurdle.
Turned over at short prices in all three of his previous hurdle starts the Middleham Park Racing-owned six year old finally added to his Exeter bumper success gained last March when getting the better of fellow 7-4 joint favourite A Definite Getaway by a head.
Henderson said: “The great thing about him was that he relaxed today. Wherever we have put him before, whether that is in front or in behind, he has been as free as a bird.
“They went so slow today that I don’t think he realised he was in a race until they were half way around. He has just been better at home as well.
“We will see if we can do that again with him as that will have helped his confidence. Two and a half miles on this sort of ground is perfect for him.
“We have got plenty of horses to run in May. We have lots of babies to run in bumpers that will have one run before going on a break.”
Fergal O’Brien and Paddy Brennan moved closer to being crowned leading trainer and jockey respectively at the Cambridgeshire track for their 2022/23 season after Surtitle got the better of Saturday Song by a nose in the Nigel Hellewell Handicap Hurdle.
Sally Randell, assistant trainer, said of the 14-1 winner: “We’ve been scratching our heads a little bit but just as the weather has started getting warmer he has started coming into himself.
“If it hadn’t gone that well today we would have been a bit stuck but thank God he did everything we hoped he would.
“I think a fast run race suits him. He is a keen going horse and he doesn’t like being out in front.”
“Fergal was keen to give a special mention to Richard Aston who sadly passed away recently as he was the one who recommended the owners send Surtitle to us.”
Multiple Group One-winning trainer Sir Mark Prescott enjoyed a rare victory at the track after Whatawit (7-1) went one better than on his debut at Market Rasen with a decisive eight-length success in the Racing TV Open Maiden National Hunt Flat Race.
William Butler, assistant trainer, said: “He was very impressive. We are not obviously experts on this front but he ran well first time and he has had a nice break since then.
“What makes him good is that he is very straightforward. He comes from a family of front runners. He stays very well and we were keen to make it a test.
“I’m not sure of Sir Mark has had a winner here before, but he certainly hasn’t in my time with him.
“He would have loved to have been here today as he likes days this but unfortunately he had a few people looking around at evening stables.”