Dan Skelton became the first trainer to reach 100 winners this season when Molly Ollys Wishes saw her consistency rewarded with a first victory over hurdles at Warwick.
The Alcester trainer reached the milestone for the fifth consecutive season, thanks to the six year-old’s success in the racingtv.com/freetrial Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
Hitting the front over the second last, under the trainer’s brother Harry, the 11-4 shot quickly put daylight between herself and the field, eventually crossing the line two and a half lengths clear of It’s Probably Me.
Skelton, speaking away from the track, said: “It is great to get to 100 winners for the season and it is great to be the first trainer to do it.
“One hundred winners is a big number to reach – and I don’t want to sound blase about it, because it is a big deal, but the show must roll on.
“We have huge spring Festivals coming up and we want the horses and everything revved up for those. It is a good position to be in.”
Assessing future plans for Molly Ollys Wishes, the Grade One-winning trainer hinted that a step up in class may come later in the season.
He said: “She has been knocking on the door, and she was unlucky at Fakenham because she slipped – which cost her.
“We will find something similar next. Further down the road, we could look at the Grade Two mares’ novice race at Newbury.”
Minella Rocco rolled back the years to gain his first victory since the 2016 National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, landing the Schiaparelli Willoughby De Broke Open Hunters’ Chase by seven and a half lengths.
Aine O’Connor, rider of the Jonjo O’Neill-trained even-money joint favourite, said: “He was unbelievable. What a spin.
“He was teaching me a thing or two. Jonjo had the horse in good form, but I’m just delighted to ride a horse like him.”
Victory for the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up was made easier after fellow joint-favourite Bob And Co was pulled up at the 12th by David Maxwell, having appeared to become uncontrollable out in front.
Maxwell said: “He just cleared off with me, and I couldn’t hold him because he had been tanking away for a circuit.
“I had nothing in my legs. It is the single most embarrassing thing I’ve had happen on a racecourse.”
Alexander Thorne was another to enjoy a landmark moment on the card, reducing his claim from seven pounds to five when making it a hat-trick of wins aboard the Gary Hanmer-trained High Counsel in the Askews Handicap Chase.
After the 11-2 shot’s seven-and-a-half-length success, Thorne said: “That is me down to five – which is great.
“This horse has been awesome to me this season. Maybe it is just that he is an older lad that wants to take care of me. He has been a pleasure to ride.
“Fair play to him, he has gone on and not waited for another horse to come to him this time.”
Gold Cup winning trainer Mark Bradstock breathed a sigh of relief as Jaisalmer (100-30) provided him with his first winner of the season, taking division one of the Jumping For Joy With Free Racing TV Handicap Hurdle by a neck.
Bradstock said: “They’ve been running well – but we have had very few runners, and too many have been placed. But it is good to get a winner.
“Jaisalmer was a really nice novice, then lost his way a bit. We have given him a bit of a breathing operation, and he is slowly getting his confidence back.”