Royal Artillery Gold Cup Day at Sandown is one of the highlights of the amateur jockeys’ season and Major Charlie O’Shea gained the fourth winner of his career, guiding the Philip Hobbs-trained Rolling Dylan to success in the Castel-sponsored feature.
The 11-year-old had been winless since 2018, but showed he had retained plenty of ability when runner-up at Aintree on his return and in a course-and-distance amateur event. The 2-1 shot relished the testing ground, making most of the running to score by a length and a half from Hogan’s Height.
It was a welcome triumph for owner Colonel James Ferguson, who had tried for over a decade to win the prize.
The 7lb claimer O’Shea, who was introduced to racing by the late trainer Richard Woollacott, said: “It certainly didn’t go to plan. He is not always the best in front and the ground would not have suited him perfectly, but he was in the right mood and his jumping took us to the front. He was happy there.
“We just stayed there and they couldn’t get to us. It is great to win it and there was going to be a new winner today, as none of the riders had won before.
“It was a real shame there were only four runners, but hopefully we put on a good enough show so a few owners or trainers might want to come and join in the race, because the day is amazing. The history of it, the amateur nature of the race and, actually, we can do half a job out there!”
Hobbs and Ferguson made it a quickfire double as Monviel (15-8 favourite) took the Virgin Bet ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle by a length and half under Tom O’Brien.
The five-year-old had previously got off the mark at Wincanton a month ago and is clearly progressive.
Hobbs said: “It is only his third run over hurdles and he is still learning. He jumped very well and kept going very well.
“We will see what the handicap mark is next week then we can go from there. I would imagine his next run would be in a handicap, having won two novices. He will see a fence in time, but he is only five and there is no rush.”
Peter Scudamore last rode at Sandown 29 years ago. He decided to give Corach Rambler a spin at the Esher track on Thursday morning, ahead of his engagement in the Reynoldstown at Ascot on Saturday.
That preparation and knowledge helped with plans for stablemate Douglas Talking (15-8 favourite), who jumped like a stag in taking the Ubique Handicap Chase.
Scudamore is assistant and partner of Lucinda Russell, who trains at Arlary in Scotland.
The trip proved a worthwhile one for the pair, as the six-year-old, who has been a revelation since going over fences, continued on an upward curve.
“I turned to Scu when he jumped the second and asked, ‘why are we bringing him here, as this is only his second time over fences?’, but that is kind of why,” said Russell.
“He does jump great. He is lovely. Physically he looks like Ahoy Senor – he is by the same sire – and that is why we bought him.
“He is a different horse over fences. You just see it in his face – he is a much happier horses over fences.”
She added: “It is a nice prize and Scu said he would be suited by the track – as usual, he is right!”
Ben Clarke is enjoying his first season with a licence and the Somerset handler gained the first double of his career.
Having seen Dr Karanga (6-5 favourite) follow up his victory at Chepstow in the Virgin Bet Handicap Chase, he then saddled Lettie Lutz (18-1) to victory in the Virgin Bet Novices’ Hurdle. Both were ridden by Ben Jones.
Dr Karanga jumped impeccably, overcoming a 12lb rise to score by 12 lengths.
Clarke said: “We will look at the big novice handicap – he is still a novice, but has not run in a novice race this season – at Uttoxeter on Midlands National day. That will be the obvious plan. Then, hopefully, he can go back next year for the Midlands National.
“He stays all day. Also, before that, I want to try to get him up a few pounds as I would really love to get him in the Becher Chase at Aintree.”
Lettie Lutz was bouncing back after being pulled up at Exeter, holding the persistent challenge from Amenon to score by half a length.
Clarke added: “I know you have to enjoy these days because I know how tough it is. It is so hard to train winner. It is hard to win a donkey derby these days.
“I am not really a drinker, but I might have a couple of glasses to celebrate tonight!”
Niall Houlihan was one of the more experienced jockeys in the conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle and put that nous to good use, as the 3lb claimer made all on the Gary Moore-trained Manucci (3-1 favourite).