Rising star of the weighing room Ben Jones continued his recent good run in the saddle with victory aboard Highly Prized in the Integral UK Michaelmas Handicap Hurdle at Huntingdon.
Having teamed up with trainer Emma Lavelle to secure victory through Misty Bloom at Wincanton on Saturday, the pair proved a winning combination again, as the six-year-old ran out a convincing winner of the feature at the Cambridgeshire track.
Sitting prominently throughout the two-mile prize, the 9-2 shot galloped on strongly to the line to defeat top-weight Sofia’s Rock by eight lengths. Short-priced favourite Sebastopol finished well held in fourth.
Jones, who recently enjoyed Listed success aboard Gumball at Ascot, said: “He made my job easy. Every time he landed he had a blow. He is a natural front-runner and loves to be in front.
“It was a good race, we didn’t think he would like the ground, but in the end he bounced off it. He is still a bit of a novice jumping, but he did that quite impressively.
“I’m absolutely buzzing how things are going at the moment and I pinch myself every day.”
Lavelle confirmed she feared the ground may have gone against the Manduro gelding.
She said: “I thought that ground would be slow enough for him, as he is a horse typical of one that has come from America, that loves to hear his hooves rattle.
“I’ve said it before – I think Ben is a proper jockey and it’s amazing what confidence can do for you.”
Looking to future targets Lavelle believes Highly Prized could be one to head to Aintree with rather than the Cheltenham Festival later in the season.
She said: “He is a horse that is good when fresh and I don’t think we will run him for a bit.
“He has had his runs now and we will get him organised for a spring target. He would be more of an Aintree horse than Cheltenham one. It is nice to think we are talking about that now.”