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Wetherby success proves poignant one for Rebecca Menzies

Rebecca Menzies reflected on a “dream” result after Return Ticket came out on top in a thrilling Peter Beaumont Memorial Handicap Chase at Wetherby.

Menzies became Britain’s youngest trainer when taking over Beaumont’s North Yorkshire yard at the age of 24 in 2013.

Eight years on, the former assistant to the late Ferdy Murphy is now based at Howe Hills stables in Durham, which she rents from another former trainer in John Wade.

Already a three-time winner over fences, the Wade-owned Return Ticket was a 4-1 shot to strike gold in a race named in the memory of Gold Cup-winning trainer Beaumont, who died in March of last year at the age of 85.

Rebecca Menzies was thrilled with the success of Return Ticket
Rebecca Menzies was thrilled with the success of Return Ticket (John Giles/PA)

Ridden by Henry Brooke, the eight-year-old had to dig deep on the run-in to get the better of a titanic tussle with 11-8 favourite Prince Escalus by a short head.

“It’s like a dream really – winning the Peter Beaumont race for John Wade. It couldn’t have worked out any better,” said Menzies.

“I trained at Peter’s for three years. His daughter Anthea has organised a box today for all his friends, so I went up there to see them earlier, which was nice.

“I kind of thought this horse might need the run as every year his first run of the season has been disappointing.

“But he’s loved the fast ground and he’s an enthusiastic jumper. He’s a lovely horse.”

Whoshotthesheriff in the Wetherby winner's enclosure
Whoshotthesheriff in the Wetherby winner’s enclosure (Ashley Iveson/PA)

Phil Kirby is excited to see how far Whoshotthesheriff can go this season following a comeback success in the Bobby Renton Handicap Chase.

No stranger to getting his head in front over hurdles, the Hambleton Racing-owned gelding made a smooth transition to the larger obstacles last season with chase victories at Carlisle and Catterick.

He failed to land a telling blow behind the high-class Allmankind when last seen contesting the Future Champion Novices’ Chase at Ayr in April.

But reverting to handicap company for his reappearance, Whoshotthesheriff proved his worth – producing a huge leap at the final fence before knuckling down to get the better of Gaelik Coast by a head in the hands Sean Quinlan.

Kirby said: “He’s a gorgeous horse – I just wish I had another 20 like him!

“He’s always been good. He’s just got to make that next step up now really.

“I don’t have anything in mind for him. It was all about starting today and work from there

“I think he’ll get three miles in time. He’s a lovely type of horse with plenty of class about him.”

Battle Angel made a winning debut over hurdles
Battle Angel made a winning debut over hurdles (Ashley Iveson/PA)

The Mark Walford-trained Battle Angel (15-2) made a successful start to her jumping career in the Olicana Park ‘Dingham Dash’ Juvenile Hurdle.

A 15,000 guineas purchase out of Emmet Mullins’ yard, the daughter of Iffraaj made a successful debut for her new connections at Hamilton in July, but had failed to fire in two starts since.

Ridden patiently by Jamie Hamilton on her hurdling bow, Battle Angel reeled in 10-11 favourite New Reality after the final flight and passed the post with just under three lengths in hand.

“We were expecting a good run. If she’d come here straight after winning at Hamilton, I think she’d have been a lot shorter in the betting,” said Walford.

“She picked up an infection after that and ran badly twice, just because she was full of mucus.

“We might have a crack at the Wensleydale (Juvenile Hurdle) back here at the end of the month. If we could grab a bit of black type in a Listed race, or even win, it would be great.

“Her jumping is very slick and she would be ready to step up into a better race.”

Pay The Piper after winning at Wetherby (Ashley Iveson/PA)

Pay The Piper enjoyed a solo spin in the Mary Lofthouse Supporting Spinal Research Novices’ Chase.

With Dan Skelton’s highly-rated hurdler Third Time Lucki declared a non-runner, Pay The Piper was the 1-6 favourite to beat a solitary rival in Hardy Du Seuil from Jamie Snowden’s yard.

But with the latter coming to grief at the very first fence, Ann Hamilton’s Pay The Piper galloped for the best part of two miles on his own to claim the full prize fund of £14,000 under Danny McMenamin.

Glencassley (1-7 favourite) notched his second Wetherby win in the Micky Hammond “Back On Track” Novices’ Hurdle for Jamie Snowden and Brian Hughes, while Jonjo O’Neill senior and junior teamed up to land the Bridges Modular New Entrance Building Handicap Hurdle with 9-4 favourite Flight Deck.

“He struggled a bit, but he got there in the end,” the trainer said after a neck success.

“We’ve schooled him over fences and he’s ran over fences, but I think he prefers the smaller ones!

“I’m glad he got his head in front in the line. Hopefully he can come on from it.”

Takeit Easy (3-1) landed the concluding Watch Racing TV Anywhere Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle for Pam Sly and Paul O’Brien.

Lecale’s Article makes no mistake as Henderson doubles up

Lecale’s Article had no problems striking gold in the same race which eluded illustrious stablemate Shishkin on his hurdles debut 12 months ago – completing a Newbury double for Nicky Henderson.

Having left the track in disbelief last year, following the fall of his subsequent Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner in the Boscasports Retail Bookmakers Choice Maiden Hurdle, Henderson enjoyed better luck in the extended two-mile prize this time.

Wearing the same silks of Shishkin’s owner Joe Donnelly, 8-15 favourite Lecale’s Article needed only to be shaken up by Nico de Boinville to defeat Restandbethankful by seven lengths.

Henderson said: “This was the race Shishkin fell in last year. He fell at the first down the back, and I was mortified.

“This is a nice horse. He had a problem this time last year in the autumn, and he had to miss the season.

“It’s probably done him no harm, because he was a big baby then and is a big baby now. He is learning, but he jumps well and he will jump fences well. ”

Although Lecale’s Article was trimmed from 25-1 into 20-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, the reigning champion trainer will continue taking small steps for the moment.

He added: “He is quite good, and I think he is more for chasing next year. I don’t think we will be going anywhere grand over novice hurdles.

“You would have not run any more than that today, but when he goes up a bit in grade he will go a bit further.”

Goodbye Stranger, who made made his debut a triumphant one by a length and a quarter, got the ball rolling for Henderson in the opening Boscasports Racing’s Digital Display Juvenile Hurdle.

Henderson said of the 100-30 winner: “He can be a bit wild at home, so that is why he had the hood on and that is why we dropped him in at the back.

“He was just getting the hang of it at the end. I like to do that again in a small one, because he has still got a lot to learn.”

Sao ensured the journey back up to Durham would be sweet for trainer Rebecca Menzies by following up his recent Hexham win in the Boscaports The No1 Digital Betting Shop Display Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase.

Menzies said of the 5-2 favourite: “We had him in a few races but we thought this would be the most winnable opportunity, and a little bit of rain has probably helped him as well.

“He has not been the most straightforward since we got him. Nathan (Moscrop) won on him at Hexham, and he got a great tune out of him that day and rides him at home.”

A trip to Wetherby for the William Hill Castleford Handicap Chase on December 27 could be next up for the former Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old.

Menzies added: “I said if he ran here and didn’t have a hard race I might take him to the Castleford at Wetherby.

“It is ground dependent, but he would be off quite a nice mark in that.”

French Paradoxe on the way to winning The Every Race Live On Racing TV EBF Stallions ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle (Alan Crowhurst/PA Images)
French Paradoxe on the way to winning The Every Race Live On Racing TV EBF Stallions ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle (Alan Crowhurst/PA Images)

French Paradoxe (7-2) provided Oliver Signy with his first Newbury winner when flooring odds-on favourite Flash Collonges by half a length in the Every Race Live On Racing TV EBF Stallions ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle.

The Lambourn trainer said: “It is great to have a winner at my local track. He is a horse which showed so much potential. It’s great it has all come together today.

“It’s an early Christmas present for us, and (owners) the Mick Fitzgerald Racing Club.”

Rebecca Menzies celebrates first career treble at Sedgefield

Rebecca Menzies was thrilled to saddle her first treble at Sedgefield on Wednesday.

Based less than five miles from the County Durham venue at Howe Hills Farm, which she rents from former trainer John Wade, Menzies learned her trade with the late Ferdy Murphy before become the youngest ever female trainer in Britain in 2013.

The 30-year-old broke the £1million barrier in prize-money earned when Tabou Beach Boy won at Musselburgh in January of this year, and claimed the biggest winner of her career to date when Stormy Girl landed the Listed Flying Fillies’ Stakes at Pontefract in August.

Reflecting on her latest milestone, she said: “It’s been a brilliant day and it’s great all the winners were for John Wade, who was here today.

“I’m so grateful to John, who has invested a lot of money into the yard this year in terms of facilities and also into his bloodstock.

“He has some nice, young horses who will hopefully takes us to the bigger days, which is what it’s all about.”

The first of the three winners on the card for Menzies, Wade and jockey Henry Brooke was Return Ticket (15-8), who dominated from the front in the Sky Sports Racing Sky 415 Novices’ Chase.

Little over an hour later Raecius Felix (3-1) secured a hard-fought victory in the Watch Sky Sports Racing In HD Handicap Chase, before She’s A Dancer obliged as the 13-8 favourite in the Download The At The Races App Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

Menzies – whose day got even better when Twisted Dreams won at Newcastle’s evening meeting – added: “Return Ticket and Raecius Felix are two horses that John bought privately from his friend Richard Collins over the summer. Richard had a bit of a dispersal, John bought a few off him and Richard was racing as well today, which was good.

“All the horses appreciated the drying ground and everything has clicked into place. Henry gave them all good rides.”

While she has enjoyed success on the Flat, Menzies views herself as predominantly a National Hunt trainer and is looking forward to the winter with optimism.

She said: “I thought through the summer this was going to be the best team of jumpers that we’ve had for the winter. I was excited about them, but it takes until October/November to get rolling, so it’s nice to have some on the board already.

“We have around 35 jumpers that will be running through the winter. We have a good few Flat horses, but the bulk of them will be going to the sales at the end of the month and hopefully we’ll get some fresh ones in for next year.”