GRAHAM Lee has spectacularly shown this season how a jumps jockey can become a star on the Flat, but today nine riders will do it the other way round – as they go for a one-off spin over hurdles in the inaugural running of the William Hill “Flat Jockeys” Handicap Hurdle at Lingfield.
The Flat Jockeys who have taken up the challenge are Eddie Ahern, Robert Havlin, Fergus Sweeney, Martin Lane, Jamie Goldstein, Robbie Fitzpatrick, Martin Harley, Ian Mongan and Kirsty Milczarek.
These nine brave pilots have accumulated nearly 1,600 winners on the Flat in Britain in the past five seasons, but, with the exception of Jamie Goldstein, have yet to register a ride over hurdles. The good news for the jockeys is that the nine runners can boast 134 runs over hurdles between them and only one fall appears on their formlines.
Sweeney said: “I was more interested in National Hunt racing when I was growing up but I was lucky enough to stay light enough to ride on the flat, riding over hurdles is always something I have wanted to have a crack at and this is the perfect opportunity to have a go.
“I have had a couple of schooling sessions at Alan King’s and getting a few pointers from Choc (Robert Thornton) and all the other lads there. I am looking forward to the race.”
At Carlisle yesterday, veteran Borders raider Royal Mackintosh continued his love affair with the track when notching his fifth course success under Brian Harding in the Watch Racing UK on Sky432 Handicap Chase.
Trained by Denholm, near Hawick, by Alan Mactaggart and carrying the colours of his wife Marty, the 11-year-old pipped Fog Patches by a neck in a thrilling finish to the 3m 2f event.
Mrs Mactaggart said: “He had to have 12 stitches in his bottom after backing on to barbed wire on a gate but he really loves this track. Where he goes depends on the ground and he also likes Kelso, although all his wins have come at Carlisle. ”
Hawick’s Wilson Renwick produced a peach of a ride on well-supported What’s Up Woody, who made a lot of the running in the John Wade colours in the Border City Handicap Chase.
Donald McCain is thinking of a crack at the Coral Welsh National with Across The Bay after his stylish victory in the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Graduation Chase. A smart dual-purpose performer when trained in Ireland by Noel Meade, he had been run exclusively over hurdles since joining McCain for the start of last season. Switched back to the bigger obstacles and beating Grand National fourth Cappa Bleu by 28 lengths, Across The Bay (10-11 favourite) jumped with aplomb and made virtually every yard under Jason Maguire.
“The owners had some great days at Cheltenham and Aintree last season but he’s definitely going the right way,” said McCain.
“He jumps, he gallops, he stays and he’s got a grand way about him. The Welsh National has to be on our minds.”
McCain and Maguire doubled up with Kruzhlinin (10-11 favourite) in the beginners’ chase but were denied a treble when Lucinda Russell’s No Deal (7-2) beat their Cloud Creeper in the closing bumper.