Evan Williams was thrilled to secure the 1000th winner of his career as Annsam struck gold at Catterick.
The Vale of Glamorgan-based trainer has made giant strides since first taking out a licence in 2003.
Within a matter of months, the proud Welshman enjoyed Grade One success through Sunray in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow, and the big-race winners have continued to flow with the likes of State Of Play, Deep Purple and Silver Streak.
The milestone was reached when 9-4 chance Annsam turned over the previously unbeaten odds-on favourite Minella Trump in the racingtv.com/freetrial Handicap Hurdle, with Adam Wedge the winning pilot.
Williams was not in attendance, instead searching for new stock at the sales, but said: “I’m delighted. The kids have been keeping a count, and it’s great to get there.
“I’m actually on my way home from Doncaster sales, and I pulled over for a cup of coffee. I just sat there thinking ‘it’s unbelievable we’ve managed to rattle off 1000 winners’.
“It’s not until you reach a milestone that you stop and think about it, and it goes without saying we couldn’t have done it without an awful lot of good people. You’re only as good as the people behind you.
“We’ll enjoy it, but we’ll start trying to get the next thousand now.”
Schiehallion Munro looks set for a step up in class after dominating his rivals in the featured Kingmaker Racedays Celebrates Mary Harle’s 100th Birthday Chase.
Micky Hammond’s bold-jumping chestnut was the 3-1 favourite to claim his third victory from just four starts over fences, and was good value for the winning winning margin of three and a half lengths over Return Ticket.
“He’s done it well,” said Hammond.
“This is more of his sort of trip really – two-and-a-half. He got away with it when winning at Newcastle last time over two miles.
“He’s jumped from fence to fence today. The handicapper is obviously going to have his say. We’ve won that off 131, and I suppose we’re going to go up four or five (pounds).”
Asked whether a trip to the Cheltenham Festival for the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase might come under consideration, the Middleham trainer said: “I’ll have a chat with the team and see what they think.”
Phil Kirby enjoyed a winner before a potentially big weekend for the yard when Show Promise pulled clear in the Watch RacingTV With Free Trial Now Novices’ Hurdle.
Runner-up on his last three starts, the 15-2 chance went one better with a 10-length verdict in the hands of Tommy Dowson.
Kirby said: “I think he’s a nice horse. I thought he might be a bit green and find one or two too good today – but it probably wasn’t a great race, in truth.”
Kirby has his two stable stars engaged to run on Saturday, with the prolific mare Lady Buttons bound for a Grade Two contest at Doncaster and Top Ville Ben holding an entry in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham.
However, the North Yorkshire-based trainer revealed the latter is not yet certain to make the trip to the Cotswolds.
“Both horses are in good form, but I’m not sure where Top Ville is going to run yet – I’d say it’s 50-50 between Cheltenham and waiting for the Denman at Newbury next month,” Kirby added.
“Obviously Tommy (Dowson) can’t be at Cheltenham and Doncaster, and I don’t really want to be messing about with jockeys on Top Ville – and it’s not really fair on Buttons to mess her around either.
“We’ll make a decision in the next day or so.”
Ask Paddy (10-11 favourite) registered his second successive victory over the course and distance in the Racing TV Free For A Month Handicap Chase, representing husband-and-wife team Jonathan and Sam England.
Winning jockey Jonathan said: “I think the track very much suits him, because he’s quick over his fences.
“He’s in good form and he’s entered on Sunday at Sedgefield, so all being well he’ll go again there.”
Richard Hobson’s Valadom (15-8 joint-favourite) led his rivals a merry dance in the Only 1000 RacingTV Free Trials Available Conditional Jockeys’ Veterans’ Handicap Chase, under a typically well judged ride from Jonjo O’Neill Jr.
Dianne Sayer’s Summer Lightening sent favourite backers home happy, obliging as the 11-8 market leader in the concluding Racing Again 31st January Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.