Racing: Adrian Heskin star in the making, says Hourigan

ADRIAN Heskin emerged the surprising star turn at Sandown on Saturday courtesy of his blockbuster ride aboard Church Island in the bet365 Gold Cup.

Trainer Michael Hourigan speaks of his 7lb claimer with barely contained excitement and compares him favourably with Adrian Maguire at this stage of his career.

At 11, Church Island has been around nearly as long as Heskin but he looked as enthusiastic as in his promising novice days and led for around half of the near three-mile-six-furlong handicap.

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Quite a few of the competitive field fancied their chances jumping the Pond Fence on the turn for home but 20-1 shot Church Island had even more to give, improving on his fourth place a year ago by surging six lengths clear on the run-in from Hoo La Baloo and former winner Lacdoudal.

Heskin, 18, struck for the stable at last month's Cheltenham Festival through cross-country winner A New Story and Hourigan said: "I have to say I'm more proud of Adrian and his prospects than for any of the good horses I have trained."

Heskin rounded off a memorable weekend with victory on the Hourigan-trained Thyne For Deploy in Wetherby's National Festival Circus Is Here Today Maiden Hurdle yesterday. "It's been a good couple of days, unbelievable really, I couldn't have asked for more," said Heskin.

The rest of the jumping action at Sandown belonged to David Pipe, who saddled all three winners along with another at Market Rasen and crossed the 100 mark for the season – his fourth since taking over from father Martin.

The biggest prize went to I'm So Lucky (9-1) and a forceful Tom Scudamore in the Celebration Chase.

Earlier in the day, Tony McCoy was joined in the parade ring by his John Smith's Grand National-winning partner Don't Push It as he was crowned champion jockey for the 15th consecutive year on the final day of the season.

Paul Nicholls failed to match his record-breaking 155 winners of 12 months earlier but was still crowned champion trainer for the fifth year running with 115 wins and prize money of 2.8million.

Europe's top mile races are in the sights of Paco Boy after he repeated his win of 2009 in the bet365 Mile at the Esher venue.

Richard Hannon jnr, son and assistant to his father, said: "After the Lockinge there are races like the Queen Anne and the Jacques le Marios and connections are looking at all sorts of races in all sorts of places."

The colours of Ballymacoll Stud were successful in the bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes for the second year running as Glass Harmonium followed up stablemate Tartan Bearer's win under Ryan Moore.

Meanwhile, perennial bridesmaid Barizan enjoyed his day in the sun as he gained a deserved Grade One triumph in the Airshow 100 Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at Punchestown.

"No horse deserves that more than him," said Evan Williams, whose charge finished runner-up at Cheltenham and at Aintree.

Willie Mullins matched his remarkable tally of last year as he once again ended the big festival with 12 winners.