Shatha sprang a 66-1 shock in the Unibet 3 Uniboosts A Day “Confined” Fillies’ Novice Stakes at Kempton to give Tom Marquand his first winner since the resumption of racing.
Marquand enjoyed a fantastic spell in Australia while racing was on hold in the UK and Ireland, winning two Group One events on William Haggas’ Addeybb and is fancied by some for the champion jockeys’ crown this term.
He got a nice trip round the inside on the Charlie Hills-trained Shatha and as the pace-setting favourite Sun Bear began to toil, Marquand switched his mount to make her challenge.
She battled it out with Lightness in the final furlong, with only a short head separating them at the line, while 150-1 shot Rozalia kept on for third.
Betfair gave Shatha a 33-1 quote for next month’s Investec Oaks at Epsom.
Marquand said: “It was very good, it probably wasn’t the winner I thought was going to happen initially looking at my rides.
“She is relatively green, but she is a nice, big filly and she is going to do well going forward after that.”
Never Dark (2-1 favourite) made every yard for victory in the opening Unibet Thanks The Frontline Workers Handicap.
Trainer Andrew Balding and jockey David Probert were on the mark with Hold Fast at the Sunbury venue on Tuesday and they added to their tally as Never Dark came home a length and a quarter clear of Newyorkstateofmind.
Probert said: “The whole family have already come on and progressed well for their age. He was consistent at two and running over six.
“Over the winter he has strengthened up and stepping back to five looks more his trip this year and I’d like to see him transfer that over the grass, but he is from a very good, speedy family so I imagine he will take a big step forward for that.”
Probert was thrilled to get another winner on the board and added: “It has been great. Over the lockdown I was in there six days a week getting to know the horses a lot better and you realise how hard the guys work at home.
“It has been a hard time for all of us over the last few weeks and months, but they’ve all stuck together pretty good and Anna-Lisa (Balding) and Andrew have been great.”
Chris Wall secured his first winner of the season as Han Solo Berger swooped late in the Unibet Money Back Free Bet If Second Handicap.
George Wood pushed his mount to the front inside the distance in the five-furlong contest and repelled the last-gasp challenge of May Remain by a neck.
Wall said: “I thought five round here might be sharp enough for him. He had shown last year a stiff five plays to his strengths because he can stalk the leaders and pick them off.
“First time out I thought I would leave the cheek pieces off him, just because it’s a first-timer, but actually today he has broken quite sharply, which isn’t always the case with him.
“We are in the dark a little and I wasn’t too sure what to expect today. I thought he would run well, but I didn’t expect him to win, so we will see.
“It is a nice team to go to war with this year and let’s hope everything falls into the right places.
“Normal at home is pretty normal and this is our first time to the races under the new regulations and things are a little bit different. I have been told off for not wearing my mask, but that is fine and we will all get used to it in the end.
“We are just glad to be back racing and if there are any inconveniences, they are pretty minor ones in context with everything else.”