Clan Legend landed a sizeable gamble in the 2m 2f handicap hurdle at a soggy Kelso. Claimer Blair Campbell’s 10lb allowance turned out to be crucial after replacing trainer Nick Alexander’s amateur rider son, Kit, who was suffering from gastroenteritis.
Available at 25-1 the previous evening, Clan Legend was sent off at 4-1 and scrambled home by a head from Alizee De Janeiro.
Alexander said: “I thought he was well enough handicapped and would run well, but the money wasn’t mine as I never back our horses. If the rain hadn’t come, he wouldn’t have won and Kit is in the ambulance room feeling pretty sick.”
Lucinda Russell saddled her sixth winner in three days when Throthethatch ploughed through the rain-softened ground to take the 2m 1f chase for Peter Buchanan, who was making it four rides without defeat at the borders venue.
Russell said: “The rain helped as the trip would normally be on the short side. He’ll be stepped back up in trip later in the season.”
Maurice Barnes and Daragh Bourke teamed up to take the featured 2m 1f as Indian Voyage bounced back to form in style. The gelding cost current connections only £1,800 and the Cumbrian trainer said: “He lost his confidence after falling at Wetherby last season. He also got squeezed out when unseating at Ayr last time so we went wide today and he jumped like a buck.”
Meanwhile, Litigant rounded off his season in fine style as he landed the Betfred November Handicap at Doncaster. Joe Tuite’s charge was a shock winner of the Ebor at York in August but he was not unfancied yesterday as a 10-1 shot as he dropped back to 12 furlongs on Town Moor.
It looked like being a dream result for Hayley Turner as she hit the front aboard Buonarotti on her final ride before retirement. However, Litigant was delivered with a perfectly-timed challenge by George Baker, starting his run in earnest with around two furlongs to run.
Turner gave her best aboard the runner-up, but Litigant was far too good, defying top weight to win by an eased-down four and a half lengths. Esteaming claimed third, beaten two and a half lengths, with Mistiroc fourth after steering a wide route in the early stages.
Turner was given a warm reception on her return to the second spot and she was full of praise for both her mount and the winning rider.
She told At The Races: “I’m delighted for George, he works so hard. He’s a heavy chap and he has to really put the effort in.
“The horse ran a blinder. Declan actually really fancied him before the race so he gave me plenty of confidence.
“I did (think I might) win but when George came past me like that, I thought he would do well to hang on for second now and he did and kept going. He’s run a blinder. There’s no tears – I feel all right about it.”
At Wincanton, Irving made amends for his final-flight fall of last year as he claimed the StanJames.com Elite Hurdle at Wincanton. Paul Nicholls’ runner appeared to have the race at his mercy in 2014 only to meet the last all wrong and crash out in the hands of Sam Twiston-Davies.
Nick Scholfield was aboard this time and he righted that wrong, defying top weight with a stylish success. Byron Blue set the early pace with the main players happy to bide their time before reeling in the outsider as the field turned for home. The front-runner was quickly swallowed up as Melodic Rendezvous hit the front with two flights to jump, although Irving was poised to challenge on the outside.
He kicked away on the run to last and, while Melodic Rendezvous tried to match strides, he had no answer as Irving found an extra gear and pulled seven lengths clear. Melodic Rendezvous kept on for second, just holding favourite Zarib by a head.
Nicholls said: “After he fell in this race it never really happened for him last year, but in the summer we sorted his breathing and it’s made a huge difference.”