Next stop Cheltenham for Hamer's winning machine
Debra Hamer has been training since 1992. She has saddled 79 winners in that time, currently has eight horses in training, two members of staff – excluding her and her husband – and, in Saturday's ITV Racing winner Tobefair, the horse of a lifetime.
The £20,000 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at Warwick was the seven-year-old's sixth successive win – and came off a mark some 45lb higher than that from which the sequence began.
But it was more than just a sixth victory. In all likelihood it will make Hamer's career-long professional ambition, to have a runner at the Cheltenham Festival, a reality. If the Down The Quay Club-owned son of Central Park can stay fit between now and the third Thursday in March then his bid for a seventh successive victory will come on the sport's greatest stage.
"He's an amazing horse," said Hamer. "He's very laid back, takes everything in his stride – he came back, ate up and was bouncing this morning. He's the horse of a lifetime, he's just amazing to deal with.
"He's been fairly treated all the way through and the weight's gone on gradually. We've never got to the bottom of him, I hope we still haven't – I think there's more to come but then you always like to think that.
"We've always wanted to have a runner at the Cheltenham Festival so we were hoping to be in the first six to qualify. To see him win again was magical and he'll go straight to the festival now, which is very exciting – especially for his owners as there's 18 in the syndicate and he's blown us all away."
Hamer may be one of racing's many Davids, but she has her hands on an equine Goliath – in several senses. "The surprise to us was we never thought he'd be a hurdler, he's a big chasing type, 16.2 hands and he's schooled beautifully over a fence so the plan was to give him one run over hurdles and then go chasing.
"But he had other ideas. He won so we thought 'okay, we'll give him another run over hurdles and then go chasing' and he won again. I don't like to change things when a horse is winning and he just keeps winning so here we are going to the festival full of hope. I think he'll run well."