Jason Watson was in double form on a cold and blustery Thursday afternoon at Lingfield, courtesy of Secret Glow and Sir Henry Cotton.
Secret Glow (10-1) looked fit beforehand in the parade ring ahead of his run in the All Weather Championships Mile Handicap, despite his 111-day lay-off.
A change of tactics clearly helped the Heather Main-trained four-year-old, who was held up before coming with a withering run to gain a three-quarter length success, his first for the Kingston Lisle yard.
Main said: “I should have brought him back to Lingfield a while ago and couldn’t quite find the right race, but I’m really glad I’ve put him back over a mile and we rode him a bit more conservatively.
“We have perhaps made a little bit too much use of him before and he has obviously enjoyed running through horses.
“He was a little worried he got caught a little wide, but at the same time he does have a turn of foot.
“I think he will probably get a bit further as well.”
The Andrew Balding-trained Sir Henry Cotton (17-2) brought up the brace for Watson in the six-furlong Watch Racing Free Online At Coral Handicap.
Despite winning a maiden at Wolverhampton 13 days previously, Sir Henry Cotton was a big market drifter, not that it concerned Watson.
He said: “Tactically it all went wrong. I wanted to get a bit of cover behind the pace as I didn’t have the best of draws and we all jumped fairly similarly and I got trapped wide.
“He probably got there soon enough, but he stuck his head out and stayed on nicely.
“He has been a bit of a slow learner but is now getting the gist of it after his win at Wolverhampton and hopefully he will progress again.”
Liam Wright is a name to remember. The 20-year-old, who learned his trade with John McConnell and Dermot Weld in Ireland, before arriving at Harraton Court Stables in September, drew high praise from trainer Darryll Holland after guiding Lilkian (11-2) to a head success in the #betyourway At Betway Handicap.
Runner-up at Wolverhampton over the minimum trip 13 days ago, Lilkian continues the fine early season form of his trainer.
“This boy is brilliant. He gave him a superb ride,” said Holland of the 7lb claimer. “Keep an eye on this lad. He’s a natural and has a good head on his shoulders, which is important these days.
“He has a great work ethic and he is just a nice kid. You want to give those boys chances. He works really hard. I’m just thrilled for him and his parents.”
Wright added: “We knew there would be plenty of pace so, when I saw the two go off in front I was happy to sit and as soon as we turned in I knew we’d pick them off.
“I could feel them closing, but he is a game horse and I knew he’d stick on. I could not be on a better animal today.
“My family are all back home in Dublin and they will be screaming at the telly. My nanny always watches me, so she will be delighted.”
Ruith Le Tu (18-5) stayed on really well to take division one of the Play Coral Racing-Super-Series For Free Handicap Stakes under Liam Keniry.
The Stan Moore-trained three-year-old broke his duck with a taking display in mowing down favourite Naughty Nadine in the seven furlong event.
Ruith Le Tu and Liam Keniry took Division One of the seven-furlong handicap for Stan Moore (Simon Milham/PA)Keniry said: “He did it comfortably. I was drawn outside in stall nine and was able to get across. He travelled nicely and waited coming into the straight.
“There was one who came round the outside but rather than race with him, I just kept sitting on him,” said Keniry.
“He was a bit green in front, but he is a fine, big horse, who will hopefully develop further and win another race or two.”
Richard Spencer has a strong team or horses to look forward to this season and while The Mad Monk may not be at the higher echelons of his group, he was good enough to land the second division of the seven-furlong handicap by three-quarters of a length from Vintage Fashion.
Though the time was over a second an a half slower than the first division, Hayley Turner put that down to the strong headwind, as the 6-4 favourite got off the mark on his first run since being gelded following three outings last year where he beat just one horse home.
“It was a weak enough race, but I think he is progressing with his racing and he is learning as he goes along,” said Turner.
“There is quite a string headwind up the straight and we are nearly dropping our whips, it is quite difficult to pick them up and use them.
“I would leave him at seven furlongs for now. He will sharpen up with his racing.
“He takes his racing seriously and was a little bit toey going down, but in the race he settled well and was uncomplicated. He was green and weak last year.”
Jim Crowley found the frigid and blustery conditions a little different to the warmer climes at the Dubai World Cup meeting, but he had a smile to brighten the coldest of days after powering Swatch (6-4 favourite) to a four-length success in the 10-furlong Betway Median Auction Stakes.
The Robyn Brisland three-year-old had run twice before and had been fifth of seven in a minor event at Kempton last time, but set the standard in a weak event.
“It was a messy race,” said Crowley. “Early on, nobody wanted to go on and it was messy for a furlong, but I always had plenty of horse. He stays well. He is better on softer ground but it wasn’t a strong race.”