Matt Sheppard was “gobsmacked” after the The Bay Birch ended his 271-day wait for a winner in the UBS Wealth Management Mares’ Handicap Chase at Warwick on Friday.
After his enjoying his most profitable campaign last season, the Ledbury handler celebrated just his third winner this term when the eight-year-old – who was also his last success back in May – defeated Sheneededtherun by four lengths.
Sheppard said: “That was excellent. I thought the ground today would be too quick for her as the races she won last season, the ground was unraceable on occasions.
“She made a noise last time at Exeter which she never made before. The tongue strap has helped her. I’m absolutely gobsmacked she did that as it was quite a competitive race.
“I’m chuffed to bits as it was a valuable prize. We could go to the final of the series now.”
Leading owner Roger Brookhouse saw his nerves put to the test as the Tom George-trained Drumlee Sunset held off a late rally from Diable De Sivola to take the feature Feldon Dunsmore Budbrooke Handicap Chase on his first start since July.
Brookhouse said of the 12-1 winner: “We have been looking for races for him. He likes going left-handed even though he has won three times right-handed.
“We thought maybe this trip was a bit short for him, but he pulled it out. I’ve no idea where he will go now – Tom George will sort that out.”
One For Rosie may not be on Nigel Twiston-Davies’ team sheet for the Cheltenham Festival, but the six-year-old could head to Aintree after initiating a double for his son, Sam, in the British Stallion Studs EBF ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle.
The trainer said of the 7-4 winner: “He has done it very nicely. I don’t know why he ran so badly last time. I think he just got stuck in the mud at Carlisle.
“He is now qualified for the EBF Final at Sandown and that will be looked at. He is in nothing at Cheltenham, but we could possibly look at Aintree.”
There was more success for Twiston-Davies jnr after he rode his first winner for trainer Jonjo O’Neill when helping Quarenta make it three from three at the track in the Bet Connect Festival Preview Here March 7 Handicap Chase.
Joe O’Neill, representing the winner trainer, said of the 9-2 winner: “He loves going three miles and the small fields seem to suit him best.
“He did miss the last and Harry Skelton had gone on his horse (Global Dream), but the run-in was long enough for him to get there.”
James Nixon saw his claim reduced from 7lb to 5lb after steering Song For Someone (11-4) to glory by three lengths in the racingtv.com Juvenile Hurdle.
Nixon said: “That has been a monkey on my back for a while, so it is good to get rid of that.
“I was with Tom Symonds five years ago as an amateur and I went elsewhere and came back. He has put me on some nice horses and it was great to do that today.”
Symonds added: “Coming round the bend I thought he was cooked, but he showed good heart.”