Ben Jones continued his season to savour when reducing his claim to 3lb aboard Ask The Weatherman in the Hairy Dog Brewery Handicap Chase at Plumpton.
One of the rising stars of the weighing room, Jones claimed the Ladbrokes Trophy glory on De Rasher Counter back in November and reached a new milestone with his first victory at the Sussex track in the extended three-mile-one-furlong contest.
Despite the Jack Barber-trained 11-year-old requiring plenty of assistance in the saddle from Jones, he responded well to repel the late challenge of Pres by three and a quarter lengths to open his account for the season.
Jones said: “It is my first winner here as well and it is only the second time I’ve been here, so it is a bit of a lucky track.
“I set my target this season to get 25 or 30 winners and to do what I’ve done is incredible.
“To be riding for the owners and trainers I have, sometimes I have to pinch myself.”
Of the 7-2 chance, he added: “He loved it out in front. He definitely tested my fitness out. He is an older horse, but he knows what he is doing. Everything fell perfectly for him. It was good to lose my 5lb claim like that.”
David Maxwell made his first racecourse appearance since his eventful experience on leading Foxhunter contender Bob And Co at Warwick last week as he completed a double for Paul Nicholls with a 31-length victory aboard Cat Tiger in the Actiph Water Handicap Hurdle.
Maxwell was forced to pull up the hard-pulling Bob And Co after suffering a severe bout of cramp in his legs.
He said: “It was just the amount the lad was pulling me around and my legs gave up on me.
“It was utterly embarrassing and terrible thing to happen. My legs were better five minutes later.”
Of the 8-13 winner, he added: “Paul said on the phone to go a good clip and not take too many breathers and he was right. He is lovely and hopefully he can go on for a long time. He will be a nice hunter chaser next season.”
Maxwell now hopes Bob And Co can take his first step towards the Cheltenham Festival at Hereford on Wednesday.
He said: “The plan is to run Bob And Co at Hereford on Wednesday. I’m just going to let him roll this time as it is over two-miles-five.
“If he can win this race and another, he will go to Cheltenham as he is a proper horse.
“One of my friends said ‘why don’t you ride him at Hereford, then gallop him down to Wincanton and ride him there the next day’!”
Cap Du Mathan (8-11) may have been no match for subsequent Grade Two winner Harry Senior on his last start, but he proved a class above his rivals to take the Place Settings Equipment Hire Maiden Hurdle by 12 lengths and get the ball rolling for champion trainer Nicholls.
Harry Derham, assistant trainer, said: “Making the running over this trip (two miles) worked perfectly for him.
“He settled much better as that has been his downfall and he jumped well. He is a very nice chaser for next season.”
Vaziani (4-1) claimed his first win in more than two years in the feature Back Yard Coffee Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
Robert Walford, winning trainer, said: “Stan Sheppard gave him a brilliant ride. We have been struggling to win with him as he is slow.
“The step up in trip to three-miles-one has made the difference. He will go chasing next season.”