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Longlai impresses in Beverley victory

Richard Hannon’s Longlai kick-started his season with a win as he enjoyed a comfortable success in the Westwood Handicap at Beverley.

Partnered by Silvestre de Sousa, the 5-1 shot took up the lead with a furlong and a half left to cover, passing the 16-5 favourite State Of Bliss and pulling away as Kevin Ryan’s Darvel attempted to close the gap.

Eventually crossing the line two and a half lengths ahead of the latter, the recently-gelded three-year-old – who was returning from an absence of 215 days – seemed to appreciate the quick ground and was unchallenged at the line.

“He went very well,” De Sousa said.

“He’s done it well in the end and went away to win – I think this is the ground he likes and he really quickened.”

Division one of the Racing Again On Monday 3 May Fillies’ Restricted Novice Stakes went the way of the Ryan-trained Lady Ayresome, who claimed victory on her second racecourse start when prevailing under Kevin Stott at 11-4.

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The two-year-old was fifth over the same five-furlong trip on her racecourse debut at Redcar earlier in the month and built on that to triumph by a length and a half ahead of David O’Meara’s Wee Loch Lass.

Division two of the same race was claimed by Mark Johnston’s Out In Yorkshire, who struck at the first time of asking when coming home a length and three-quarters ahead of Archie Watson’s Pure Charmer to succeed at 4-1.

Ventura Flame and Callum Rodriguez emerged the victors after the judge was called upon to decide the outcome of a four-way photo finish in the five-furlong Beverley Annual Badgeholders Handicap.

The 18-1 chance finished just a short head in front of Paul Midgley’s Van Gerwen, with Bryan Smart’s Debawtry a further short head behind and the Roger Fell-trained 2-1 favourite Dapper Man a neck behind her.

The victory was a return to form for the Keith Dalgleish-trained filly, who was previously unplaced in three start this year.

Ed Bethell’s Blu Boy made light work of the Racing TV Handicap, posting a four-and-a-quarter-length victory under a 6lb penalty.

The three-year-old was a six-and-a-half-length winner at Newcastle last week, and was officially ‘well in’ on the Westwood after his rating was raised from 60 to 72 following that success.

“He looked as though he was going to be very disappointing as we paid quite a lot of money for him this time last year,” explained Bethell’s father James, who handed his licence over to his son last year.

“We’ve cut (gelded) him and it seems to have made a hell of a difference.

“We had to come here because he was put up 12lb after his last win – we’ll have to see if they put him up again and decide where to go next.”

The Bethell yard in Leyburn is enjoying a spell of good form recently, with Blu Boy’s triumph the fifth win from the stable’s last eight runners.

“It’s a bit of a purple patch,” Bethell said.

“And long may it last.”

Regal Mirage took the 10-furlong Rapid Lad Handicap for Tim Easterby and David Allan, tallying this fourth win at the track after claiming his last success in last year.

The seven-year-old has been out of the placings since, but bounced back to form at 3-1 when wearing cheekpieces and returning his favourite course.

Poet’s Dawn then gave the trainer a quickfire double when taking the Hurn Handicap under Ella McCain at 16-1, before the closing contest of the day, the Thank You NHS And Volunteers Novice Stakes, was taken by Chris Dwyer’s 11-10 favourite Enthused to provide De Sousa with a brace.