Shearer scores late to bring up Nicholls' century

Odds-on favourite prevails in final National Hunt race of 2020.

  • Thursday 31 December
  • News
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Shearer provided trainer Paul Nicholls with his 100th winner of the season – going one better than on his debut as he took the final National Hunt race of the year at Warwick.

Named after former Newcastle and Blackburn striker Alan Shearer, the Max McNeill-owned gelding dominated in the jonjooneillracingclub.co.uk Join Today £99 Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Racing prominently throughout over two miles, the 8-13 favourite cleared away smartly late on to win by nine lengths from Bowtogreatness.

It is only the second time the 11-time champion trainer has reached a century of winners before the new year, having previously achieved the feat in 2016.

Nicholls, speaking away from the track, said: “That was just the job. It’s a nice milestone to reach before January 1.

“It’s credit to all the staff who have worked so hard. It reflects well on them and gives them pride in what they are doing, and is good for morale.

“It is only the second time we have reached 100 winners before the new year – and this is more of an achievement, given the circumstances.”

The Ditcheat handler will continue taking small steps with Shearer for the remainder of the campaign, before sending him over hurdles next season.

He added : “He is one that needs time and patience, and we wouldn’t be going to one of those speedier tracks in the spring.

“He is a real stayer and he will make a lovely novice hurdler. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is one for the Challow Hurdle next season. ”

Winning rider Adrian Heskin was recording his first success since returning from a recent spell on the sidelines with a broken arm.

Heskin said: “I’m delighted to get my first winner back on a nice young horse like him. He has a nice future ahead of him.

“We know he has plenty of stamina, and Paul was confident he was fit, so we just wanted to get him rolling good and early.”

Nick Mitchell celebrated his first winner since resuming his training career in October, as 16-1 shot Trump Lady scored by a length and three-quarters in the LPS British Stallion Studs EBF Mares’ ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle.

Having relinquished his licence at the end of the 2018-19 season, Mitchell – who saddled The Listener to Grade One glory in the JNWine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal in 2009 – was delighted to be back among the winners.

He said: “I stopped training, and the National Trainers Federation were very good and I did some work for them, then for the BHA – but nothing really came of it.

“I’ve known Syd Hosie, who owns Sherborne Utilities, for years – but I didn’t know he was setting up this new yard. He gave me a ring and asked if I would be interested in training them.

“We’ve been knocking on the door with a few, so to have one get its head in front is really good.”

Mitchell pointed to a change of training routine for Trump Lady after her first success under rules.

He said: “I blame myself for her pulling up at Exeter, because I was too hard on her at home and I didn’t lay off her.

“She improved markedly at Ludlow, and we just do nothing at home with her now as she is a busy little thing and she gets herself fit. ”

The Tom Symonds-trained Mr Washington made it four wins from as many starts this season in the Jonjo O’Neill Racing Club Handicap Hurdle, which the 15-8 favourite collected by three-quarters of a length.

Assistant trainer David Dennis said: “He takes a bit of time to warm to it, and I thought he was beat turning in.

“I thought he would appreciate the step up to three and a quarter miles, and he has got the job done.

“He went over fences last season but he didn’t enjoy it, so we put him back over hurdles this season to get his confidence back – which he has.”

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