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Article 15th January 2024 Warwick

Warwick’s most valuable race of the season – the £100,000 Wigley Group Classic Handicap Chase (3m 5f) went the way of grey mare My Silver Lining (13-2) who prevailed under jockey James Best in the colours of his mother-in-law Celia Djivanovic.

Trained by Emma Lavelle, the eight-year-old saw off the challenge of another mare alia Des Liteaux (5-1) to score by three-quarters of a length. It was Lavelle’s third win in the contest following Shotgun Paddy (2014) and Eclair Surf (2022).

James Best said: “I probably wear my heart on my sleeve and I get very excited when days like this do happen.

“It’s just absolute magic as my mother-in-law owns this mare and my wife and two boys are here. It just means the absolute world.

“This mare is an absolute superstar and doesn’t know how to give in. She is just as tough as they come and a massive thank you to my mother-in-law for owning such a lovely mare.

“I am very grateful to Emma Lavelle and Barry Fenton. They had her spot on for today and it is what dreams are made of.

“I could hear something coming for me but I did not dare look and kept going forwards. I knew I hadn’t fully gone for this mare and I know she really digs deep for you so I grabbed the rail and thankfully she held on.

“I have to say this is the best day of my career. Obviously it’s more sentimental as she is a family horse. I’ve been fortunate to have some wonderful days but it’s not easy this game and just when I needed a horse to come along, she has. I am very grateful to everyone involved.”

Owner Celia Djivanovic added: “There is a lot of emotion. I was running up the all-weather track at the side trying to push her over the line! I needn’t have done it as she is very capable.

“She is such a star horse and I must mention Phoebe who looks after her because the pair of them are a mutual adoration society. She adores Phoebe and Phoebe adores her.

“I am so pleased not just for me and the horse but for Phoebe, James, Emma and everyone involved. James doesn’t get that many opportunities in big races so it’s really nice that he has this opportunity and used it so well.”

Today also saw Grey Dawning (5-4 Favourite) get his chasing career back on track with a comfortable three-quarter length victory in the Grade Two Trustatrader Hampton Novices' Chase (3m).

Winning rider Harry Skelton said: “I knew the two would be at it up front and maybe Sammy’s horse wasn’t going as well as he normally does.

“He has done it really well.  Cheltenham was very frustrating when he missed the second last and today was the first day he had really got racing down to a fence. He was just a bit novicey and made a mistake and learnt from it. We are up and back here today – he is an exciting horse.

“I think he’ll get any trip with the way he races as he has a good attitude and falls behind the bridle a little bit which I think he’ll stay any trip. But at the same time, he’s not slow – as you saw from the back of two out he can quicken as well.

“He has got plenty of ticks in the right boxes. He is progressive and who knows where he could end up.”


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