THE new week started with a seven-race card at Catterick on Monday and the handicap hurdle produced a cracking finish, with Keith Reveley’s Vinetta staying on the best to land the spoils in the dying strides.
Colm McCormack, riding his 18th winner, did not give up, despite being several lengths down at the last, and the mare finished with a rare rattle to beat Alta Rock by a length.
Ken Matthews, representing the winning syndicate, The Thoughtful Partnership, said: “A few up at Keith’s had missed the odd bit of work with the weather so we weren’t sure if she’d be 100%.
“I’d have been happy if she’d made the frame, but she’s pretty good.”
Venetia Williams has never been afraid of sending her horses on long journeys and the Herefordshire handler plundered the feature prize on the day with Shangani.
Williams is enjoying her best season for nearly a decade and is operating at a near-20 per cent strike-rate.
Her fortunes surprisingly dipped after winning the Grand National with Mon Mome in 2009 but they are well and truly on the rise again now.
She houses numerous young chasers on the up, as well as a live Gold Cup outsider in Katenko, and, along with stable jockey Aidan Coleman, they will not want the season to end.
Shangani won at Sandown just nine days ago and despite a 9lb rise the seven-year-old had no trouble in seeing off Mr Syntax as the 7-4 favourite in the £12,000 Weatherbys Bank Handicap Chase.
“He was very good at Sandown so he was entitled to come and win this,” said Coleman.
“It’s good prize-money, so fair play to Venetia and the team at home for spotting this race.
“We’ve been very lucky up north this season and we’ve had a few winners at Musselburgh so we’ve been rewarded for travelling.
“This horse is very versatile, he made the running the last day, but only because nothing else wanted to.
“Ideally he wants to be ridden like this – dropped in with a lead.
Leyburn-based jockey Barry Keniry also enjoyed a fine afternoon, riding a double on the day, starting off on the David O’Meara trained White Fusion in the two mile handicap hurdle before the Simon ShirleyBeavan-trained Rapidolyte De Ladalka took the Novices’ Handicap Chase.
Shirley-Beavan’s chaser holds an entry in the fourmiler at Cheltenham but a change in the rules has not worked in his favour for that contest, according to his trainer.
“They let horses who have won over hurdles run in it now and I’d have thought they’d have too much speed for him, although does is stay,” said Shirley-Beavan.
“He’s a smashing jumper and was only getting going at the finish.”
Philip Kirby is enjoying a good time of things since moving to Middleham last month and he was on the mark again with Ancient Times up at Ayr on Tuesday in the conditional jockeys handicap hurdle.
The six-year-old was winning his first race at the 28th attempt and was steered to victory by Adam Nicol who is now based at the yard.
Back on the all-weather at Southwell on Wednesday and James Bethell was on the mark in the median auction maiden with Mister Bob, who ran out a very easy winner under Graham Lee and, despite, it being a weak race, the winner appeals as the type to improve.
In a very snowy winners enclosure, the winning handler said: “He’s always been a nice horse. He got a sesamoid problem after running once as a two-year-old and it has taken a long time to get him back. He’s still green, but, although that wasn’t much of a race, I think he’s alright, and he’ll improve.”