Johnston and Ffrench fire in 137-1 treble
REPORT: BRIGHTON, Thursday
BOOKMAKERS may think twice about applauding racing authorities for providing more betting fodder with replacement meetings like this after trainer Mark Johnston and jockey Royston Ffrench combined for an amazing 137-1 unanswered hat-trick.
The saving grace was that most eyes were on Doncaster but the Racing Post betting guide forecast just a likely 28-1 treble in making Liberation and Alcalde favourites for their maidens and Timocracy just 6-1 to win on his handicap debut for a trainer who has a habit of making his long trips down from Middleham pay.
With only a couple of hundred racegoers and eight bookmakers in the ring, the market was volatile and off-course bookmakers may be scurrying around to check the damage as Johnston's runners clearly got under the Brighton betting mafia radar.
It all started sanely with Liberation, Spotlight's nap, backed down to 1-2 from 4-6 to win, which is just what he did, although it turned out to be the closest call for Ffrench, who was riding his first treble of the season, as Appraisal gave him a few moment's worry.
Alcalde, stoutly bred so sure to get a muddy mile on debut and tipped by Spotlight, was opposed from opening 11-4 favourite to end 9-2 before powering away from his rivals in the final furlong.
Admittedly Johnston's travelling manager Mark Billingham expected Timocracy to "burst the bubble" but three races later the handicap debutant made a mockery of his price going from 7-1 to 16-1 as he scooted clear to beat Cwm Rhondda by five lengths.
Billingham, who had travelled the trio down from Middleham the night before, said: "He has really appreciated the step up in trip and handled the ground very well. Royston says he will stay further."
Johnston was improving his five-year strike-rate to nine from just 28 runners but Ffrench, who was a regular and successful visitor in his Newmarket-based days, was really reacquainting himself with the track.
"Since I moved north, I haven't been down that much but it has been well worth it and Mark'shoreses are in great form and you couldn't them out," said Ffrench.
ChrisWall not only made it four winners from his last six runners but also improved an already impressive record in sellers with the success of strongly-supported favourite Ministerofinterior.
The Newmarkettrainer, better known for classier inmates, has only delved into the bottom grade eight times in the last five years and has now come away with three winners.
Wall's apprentice Jack Mitchell, son of former trainer Philip, is in asgood form as his boss. Passing the 50-win career mark and cut in claim has done nothing to stem his run which leaves him on the periphery of the apprentice title race with 29 winners, nine behind leader William Buick.
Wall, who has ruled London Mile final winner Premio Loco out of the Cambridgeshire, said: "Jack is having a good run and is a good kid. He has progressed well this year and was alive to everything in the race.
"This horse has been struggling in handicaps so this was a logical thing to do and at least he has won a race."
The downside was that Ministerofinterior was lost to the stable, being bought by Derek Hunnisett, whose Prince Valentine has been a standing dish at the track with trainer Gary Moore.
Croeso Cusan was a ready winner of the mile handicap to give Sophie Doyle her first winner since having her claim cut to 5lb and tenth of the season.
Winning owner breeders Richard and Sue Evans have sadly lost the dam but still have four of the family in the paddocks and a two-year-old by Medicean who is also with winning trainer John Spearing.
Matterofact gained a deserved win for her consistency and recent near misses but the Malcolm Saunders-trained mare had to scramble home under Tom McLaughlin to deny fellow topweight Rocker.
Mark Johnston and Royston Ffrench, perfect day out at the seaside