Jester Jet a festival first for Tom Lacey in breakthrough season
Jester Jet crowned an extraordinary breakthrough season for Tom Lacey when scoring a 20-1 success in the Grade 3 Alder Hey Children's Charity Handicap Hurdle.
Lacey has long been known in the point-to-point field as someone who knows what he is doing, but has been training seriously under Rules for only the last three or four seasons.
Last season's 21 winners was his first time in double figures, and a first ever Aintree win with Jester Jet took this season's total to 36, on top of which he has had his share of point-to-point winners again, took his story to another level.
After Robbie Dunne and Jester Jet had held Eaton Hill by three-quarters of a length, Lacey confirmed: "This is the highest profile win of my career. It's the second biggest festival of the season after all, so definitely my biggest win."
He added: "It's been an incredible season and everything has just clicked. We've had an amazing run of form.
"Jester Jet is a tough mare, and very consistent. She's very straightforward – just a joy to deal with. We did have her in the three miler but on this ground dropping back to two and a half miles was the right thing to do and Robbie said she was full of running.
"She's got all sorts of options and we'll have to have a think. I did think about not coming here and waiting for Ayr."
It was also a first Aintree Festival win for Dunne, who rides Gas Line Boy in the Grand National on Saturday.
He said: "That's a nice feeling. I won a bumper at the Punchestown Festival many years ago for Michael O'Brien, and it's good to get a nice win like this at a British festival."
Jamie Moore offered no excuse for the Kerry Lee-trained Eaton Hill. He said: "He travelled well but I was beaten by a better horse."
Greatrex shocked at 25-1 bumper win
It's not often that Warren Greatrex finds himself at a loss for words, but the 25-1 success of Portrush Ted in the Grade 2 Weatherbys Racing Bank bumper left him momentarily speechless.
Eventually finding his voice after Gavin Sheehan had driven the six-year-old home a gutsy three-and-a-quarter length winner from Lacey's Kateson – for the rider's 50th winner of the season – Greatrex admitted: "I'm shocked. This horse is never, ever sound. He swims virtually every day and is ridden out only a couple of days a week. It's all down to the team at home. "
He added: "He has a hind leg issue but we've always said he had a lot of talent and he'd been training really well. He's got a big engine and I'm so chuffed. It's unbelievable."
The six-year-old was bought as a store by Greatrex's wife Tessa and named after owner Max McNeill's late father, a former golf pro at Royal Portrush and a huge racing fan. Unfortunately McNeill was away on business, but his brother Hugh and other members of the family were on hand for celebrations.
Substance discovered in racecourse stables
A kit bag search of John Ryan earlier in the day had revealed possession of Restore-Lyte Gel, an electrolyte replacement supplement.
It had not been opened and, being satisfied that Normal Norman had received only normal food and water by mouth on the day of racing, he was allowed to run. However, he was pulled up early in the finishing straight.
The substance is to be tested, and the matter has been referred to the BHA.
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