Track And Trace played a starring role in a Catterick treble for trainer Jonjo O’Neill and jockey Richie McLernon with victory in the Vickers.Bet North Yorkshire Grand National.
While the Jackdaws Castle handler recalled booting home plenty of winners at Catterick during his illustrious riding career, he is a rare visitor these days, so punters should perhaps have taken note of his presence at the North Yorkshire track’s flagship jumps meeting of the year.
“I can’t remember the last time I was here, to be honest, it will be a while ago,” he said.
“It was a lucky track for me as a jockey, I rode plenty of winners around here, and it’s been a lucky track all round really. It’s a nice little track really and the facilities are really nice now.”
Having struck gold in the previous two races with Time For A Pint and Hasthing respectively, Track And Trace was a 7-2 favourite to provide his trainer and jockey with a third win in little over an hour in the near £21,000 feature and ultimately got the job done in fine style.
After travelling well for much of the three-mile-five-furlong contest, the lightly-raced seven-year-old took over the running with three fences to jump and stuck to his guns on the run-in to beat Crixus’s Escape by two and a quarter lengths, with Court At Slip just a neck further behind in third.
“He jumps well and I was gambling on him staying, but I thought he would and it just went the right way,” said O’Neill.
“He made a couple of little errors, but he hopped away grand. It’s a long trip and he was probably getting a bit tired at the end.
“Hopefully he can move up the ladder a little bit. We’re looking forward to him going forward.”
Time For A Pint justified 3-1 favouritism in the Download Raceday Ready Today Novices’ Handicap Chase, before Hasthing knuckled down to make it two from two over obstacles as a 10-11 shot in the Friends Of Kiplin Hall/EBF ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle.
The latter finished third in the Grade Two Aintree bumper last spring and is now likely to have his sights raised.
O’Neill added: “He’s a big old boy isn’t he – he has a leg in every county!
“He jumped much better today to be fair, it’s more experience and he’s learning all the time. Hopefully he can keep going forward.
“He’s qualified now (for the EBF Final), so we’ll see how he comes out of it, have a chat with Frank (Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus) and see where we go from there.”
Brucio (11-4 favourite) barely broke sweat when opening her account in the opening Watch Racing TV Now Mares’ Maiden Hurdle.
Carrying the colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, the Irish raider was a solitary ride on the card for leading jockey Daryl Jacob, who was securing only his second ever Catterick winner.
He said of the Stuart Crawford-trained winner: “She felt good there today and she’s relished the ground. It was a very weak mares’ maiden, the ground was right and everything fell into place for her.
“The more I’ve ridden her the more she’s starting to get the hang of things. She’s a slow burner and hopefully with a summer’s break we might see her improve a little bit more.”
The Sue Smith-trained It’s Maisy (7-2) followed up last month’s Market Rasen victory in the Racingtv.com Mares’ Handicap Hurdle under Nick Schofield, profiting from the final-flight exit of likely winner Minniemum.
Tristan Davidson and Harry Reed combined to land the Every Race Live On Racing TV Handicap Hurdle with 15-2 chance Shantou Moon, while the concluding Racing Again 24th January Handicap Hurdle went to Freddy Robinson (100-30), trained by Brian Ellison and ridden by 7lb claimer William Maggs.
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