MAJALA and Alain Cawley came out on top in a thrilling finish to the £25,000 feature race on the second day of the Perth Festival.
The partnership scored by a neck from Roudoudou Ville, with Dare Me the same margin back in third, as the end of the mcbookie.com Festival Handicap Chase brought the Scone Palace Park crowd to its feet.
Winning trainer Tom George said: “I’m delighted as this was a good horse last season. He just went the wrong way but we’ve changed the tactics and he came right again today. He won a decent race in France last year and we may go back there again. He got the trip okay today and it’s nice to see him back on song and winning a nice prize.”
George also saddles Nodebateaboutit in today’s G A Engineering Highland National over a stamina-sapping three miles and seven furlongs.
The gelding is one of 16 declared and his trainer said: “Any rain that comes will help him and I thought he was about to win this race two years ago as he was favourite when he was hampered and brought down three out. Hopefully, all will be well this time and he is coming into the race off a similar mark.”
Despite a big market drift, Seebright and Denis O’Regan shouldered top-weight to victory in the Bill And Bunny Cadogan Memorial Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase for Devon trainer Victor Dartnell.
“Denis said he was finding it tricky jumping out of the sticky ground but he’s been a great little horse,” Dartnell said. “The handicapper might have his say after this but he is certainly a horse that travels nicely through his races.”
BBC Radio Five Live racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght saw his colours carried to success by Northern Acres in the Runner Up Cash Back At mcbookie.com Handicap Hurdle.
Ridden by Kit Alexander for his father Nick, the local raider was the subject of a gamble from 14-1 into his starting price of 13-2.
Lysaght said: “I promise you the gamble did not stem from a farthing of my money. I thought he was quite well handicapped but he did run poorly last time and it is always fantastic to have a winner at Perth.”
Jim Goldie kept the Scottish flag flying courtesy of James Reveley-ridden Titus Bolt in the Lonmar Global Risks Handicap Hurdle. The Renfrewshire trainer said: “James got him settled and gave him a lovely a ride. He saw the trip out really well.”
Meanwhile, Muteela further enhanced her reputation with a dominant front-running display in the Happy Birthday Dadie Oughtred Stakes at Beverley.
Mark Johnston’s filly is well-related as a half-sister to the yard’s former Group One-winning juvenile Awzaan and showed plenty of courage to score by a nose on her racecourse introduction at Lingfield back in October. Smartly away from her plum draw in stall one as she made her handicap debut and seasonal reappearance on the Westwood, the 2-1 favourite was soon dictating affairs and only Lincoln looked a serious threat once they straightened up for home.
However, Muteela’s class edge became evident from the two-furlong marker as she found another gear in the hands of Paul Hanagan, sealing the deal by four lengths without being asked for maximum effort.
The Middleham maestro clinched the seven-furlong prize with another Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned runner in Shebebi a year ago, a horse who went on to clinch the lucrative Silver Bowl at Haydock.
Johnston’s son and assistant, Charlie, said: “We’ve given her a lot of time to come to herself and this was the day we’d learn how good she was. Judging by that, she’s a bit better than a mark of 78. We’ll probably stay at between seven [furlongs] and a mile now.”