The Dutchman highlight of three winners for Hughes
These are exciting times for Scottish borders trainer Sandy Thomson. Following the spectacular reappearance of flagship horse Seeyouatmidnight at Carlisle 13 days ago, the stable's The Dutchman looked a youngster with a bright future when making a winning debut over fences in the 1m7f novice event.
He was the 50th winner of the season for rider Brian Hughes, who went on to complete a near 126-1 hat-trick.
The Dutchman faced no easy task as his three opponents were all useful over hurdles, and the four runners were line abreast jumping the third-last. However, despite getting in a bit tight at the last two, The Dutchman got home by a neck from the Sue Smith-trained Vendor.
Thomson said: "You don't know how good a performance that was because he's had a foot problem and needed the race. Brian said he took a good blow after the third-last so he looked after him after that.
"If he'd got a good jump at the last he said he'd have won by a couple of lengths. We'll step him up in trip now but although the Paris Pike Novice Chase at Kelso would fit in well, it's over 2m7f so could be a bit too far."
As for Seeyouatmidnight, Thomson said: "He was working this morning and if everything goes well, and Brian and everyone think it's the right thing to do, he'll go for the Betfair next Saturday."
Salt's a local hero
Brian Hughes took his tally to 51 winners in the following 3m handicap hurdle when partnering the 11-2 Lough Salt to a three-and-three-quarter-length success.
Owned by John Tose and John O'Loan, who live close to the course, the winner is trained by Mark Walford, who said: "He's a proper winter horse, although that was a bit of a surprise as I thought he needed the race. He loves soft ground and he stays well. He's one to look forward to for the season."
Hughes completed his treble aboard the Charlie Longsdon-trained Well De Lune in an extraordinary race for the 2m3½f handicap chase as, having made the running and been headed, his mount rallied to beat the idling Aerlite Supreme by half a length.
Money spot on
Although there were just five runners for the mares' novice hurdle it looked a decent contest with two promising sorts in La Bague Au Roi and Whatduhavtoget in opposition. The money was for La Bague Au Roi, who was sent off at 8-15 and came home clear of her rival under Harry Bannister.
Both could be on target for better races, but the winner won't be running through the winter as Chris Bonner, assistant to trainer Warren Greatrex, said: "She doesn't want soft ground so we'll probably give her one more run and then put her away."
Thought for the day
Brian Hughes is very much the go-to jockey in the north. Although he rides mainly for Malcolm Jefferson, he gets mounts for most the top yards, including many from the south, and injury permitting looks set for a fine season.