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.
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.”
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.”
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 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.