Lucy Normile expressed shock and awe in equal measure after Royal Regent delivered an 80-1 stunner at Ayr on a day to remember for the Perthshire trainer and Megan Carberry.
Better recognised within the northern National Hunt ranks, Normile was saddling just her second ever two-year-old in the Scottish Leader Maiden Stakes.
After having badly missed the break on his debut over six furlongs at this track in September, finishing stone last, Royal Regent’s big price was understandable. But it was an entirely different story this time as Megan Carberry’s partner made clear headway a couple of furlongs out before the partnership gained the lead 200 yards later. Sir Chauvelin, the well-backed even-money favourite from Jim Goldie’s yard, gave chase, but Royal Regent revelled in the step up to a mile and ran on for a three-length call.
Normile said: “It was more of a surprise than a masterplan, but a very happy surprise all the same. He was stood in the stalls for half an hour on his first start, waiting for the penny to drop, so we were expecting him to go better this time. That said, we still weren’t expecting him to win, especially like that.
“The first thing Megan said when she got off him was that he would easily get further than a mile, so that opens up options. I don’t think there’s much more for him now, though, so that’ll probably do him for the year.”
Normile and Carberry ended the afternoon as they had started it, with Royal Duchess (15-2) – a half-sister to Royal Regent – claiming the Caledonia Best Handicap, beating Uncle Brit by three-quarters of a length.
Goldie was again out of fortune in division one of the Coca-Cola Handicap as Monel succumbed by a length and a half to the Richard Guest-trained Lord Buffhead (14-1), capably ridden by Jason Hart, who ended up with a treble. Hart firstly secured a double when Fredricka (100-30) came from off a generous pace to fend off Margrets Gift by two lengths in the Guinness Dublin Porter Handicap. The in-form pilot then did the business aboard 11-2 shot Rockweillerin the Ginger Grouse Handicap.
Debbie Harris, wife of owner-trainer Shaun Harris, said: “Credit to Jason, he rode a brilliant race on him. We’ve got the opportunity of running him over hurdles, so he might end up a decent dual-purpose horse.”
Glasgow-based Goldie at least gained a degree of solace when New Lease Of Life (8-1) pulled a length clear of Rock Canyon in division two. Successful jockey Gary Bartley told Racing UK: “He’s fairly dotted up. He’s still immature and you’d say there’s definitely more left in the tank. When he’s got his ground, he’s got ability.”
On a challenging day for favourite-backers, Explain at least stuck to his end of the deal in the Britvic Soft Drinks Nursery Handicap. Martyn Meade’s juvenile (11-4) started briskly showed plenty of vim under Fergus Sweeney to account for Aprovado by a head.
Our Boy Jack later landed a mini-gamble for the Richard Fahey team with a runaway triumph in the Tennent’s Lager Handicap. The Middleham Park-owned five-year-old was backed into 8-1 late on and did not disappoint, with George Chaloner’s mount forging three lengths ahead of Evanescent.