Brian Hughes registered an important and valuable winner at Kelso when Clondaw Caitlin beat the boys in the William Hill Premier Novices’ Hurdle.
Trainer Ruth Jefferson took the brave decision to run her mare in the Grade Two feature and was rewarded for her boldness with a clear-cut success.
For Hughes, as well as being a very nice prize to pick up and one of his most substantial of the season to date, it also helped stopped the momentum of the last few days swinging too much towards the returning Richard Johnson in their compelling race for the jockeys’ title.
Hughes charted a wide route throughout on the 9-4 chance, but the five-year-old always appeared to be travelling kindly.
Elf De Re made a bold bid for Sandy Thomson, but he had no answer to the winner, who took up the running before the last and went clear to win by five lengths.
Hughes told Racing TV: “It was a bold shout to come here, it was Ruth’s call and it’s paid off.
“She’d won a couple of mares’ races and a bumper. She’s owned by family friends of my wife, so it was nice of them to let me ride her.
“She had point-to-point form, so staying was never going to be an issue for her. You need to stay in these conditions.”
Jefferson said: “She won a bumper, but we thought we’d go hurdling and she’s improved for every run.
“She had a double penalty if she’d run in another mares’ race or she’d have had to go handicapping, so when I saw this race I thought, ‘why not’.
“Bringing her back in trip could have been the worry, I suppose. She had a rating up there with the best of them and with the mares’ allowance she was getting weight. In a handicap she’d have been giving weight to a lot of them.
“She was a mare that was thriving and you’ve got to run them when they are well.”
Looking ahead, Jefferson said: “There’s a Listed race at Newbury, but I think that will come too soon, so she’ll have options at Aintree and then there’s the mares’ meeting at Cheltenham. The better the ground, the further I’d go in trip.
“She’s a bit of a madam, a typical mare, within two weeks of coming to us she’d kicked three of us!
“One more run will do, she’s only five and she’s done us proud. Dad (Malcolm Jefferson) won this with Mount Mews who went on to be second in the Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, but she wants further than two miles.