Last Thursday’s winner.Co.Uk meeting at Market Rasen on Thursday might have been a low-key affair with some modest-sized fields, but the afternoon did not lack for interest.
For the country’s top national hunt jockey and an emerging lady rider there were definite high spots.
Top jockey Richard Johnson clearly wanted to extend his lead in the jockey’s championship as he bids to be crowned champion for the first time next spring.
The two top jockeys riding on the day looked set to battle it out in the second race, the winner.co.uk Maiden Hurdle with Aiden Coleman on the favourite Final Nudge while Johnson was on board See the Rock (9/2), trained by Jonjo O’Neill.
Johnson held up his mount in the early stages. The four-time bumper winner in Germany made too many mistakes on his hurdling debut in January, and after he crashed into the last flight at Rasen his chance looked to have disappeared.
But Johnson, who has already charged through the 100-winner mark, got to work and made See the Rock’s flat speed count as he got up on the line over Final Nudge and Coleman.
Johnson had already claimed the opening race, a Class 4 Junior Hurdle, on 4/7 favourite Duke of Medina, a runner-up on his hurdling debut at Ludlow last month.
If Johnson is at the top of his profession, 21-year-old Joanna Walton is just starting out. Walton’s win on the grey Carters Nest was quite an emotional moment.
“It’s my third win on this horse and my eighth under rules,” she said. “I part own him as well, as does mum, and she led him in for me.
“We gave him his last chance last year and he has become a real superstar for us since. He has lots of character and likes to be on the charge!”
He charged right to the front after the final fence in the fifth race, a handicap chase, and won in style, just getting up on the post.
Walton added: “We girls are doing quite well at the moment, I just got the bit between my teeth like he did.”
Sands Cove gave Liam Treadwell the first of a double, winning the first chase of the afternoon.
Front-running favourite Ready Token (2/1) led until they entered the final straight, but Sands Cove (8/1) gave Treadwell a superb ride and there was no doubting the clear winner’s superiority.
Treadwell completed his double on Kingswell Theatre in the Novices Class 3 Chase for trainer Michael Scudamore, easing down and looking back after the last.