West Country boy Williams bags first win after Midlands reroute
Devon-based Chester Williams certainly did not mind heading to Northamptonshire rather than nearby Taunton for this replacement fixture after riding his first winner at the 20th attempt on Peruvien Bleu.
The former point-to-point jockey steered his mother Jane's four-year-old home in the 1m7½f handicap hurdle and is hoping one day to succeed his father, winning trainer Nick.
Results and analysis
The 19-year-old was taking a break from his business studies at Bath University to partner Peruvien Bleu, who scored by two lengths.
He said: "I ride out in the mornings and then drive two hours to Bath usually, but I'm on a placement at the moment at a chocolate factory, which is a bit frustrating as I have to keep my weight down.
"I had a few weeks last winter with Paul Nicholls, which was a great experience. It's nice to get off the mark under rules and I have also ridden seven winners in point-to-points."
The jockey's sister is Lizzie Kelly, the first woman to ride a Grade 1 winner over fences or hurdles in Britain or Ireland.
On the Case
Banbury-based Ben Case was also happy there was a meeting on his doorstep after Graceful Legend scored tidily under Kielan Woods in a qualifier for the mares' challenge series.
Case said: "She wasn't even entered to run at Taunton and we took a chance on the ground here only because it was up the road, so it's a win-win."
Fled on the march
Fled Or Pled is named after an aspect of US law and winning trainer David Dennis must have been tempted to plead the Fifth Amendment about the four-year-old when he struggled to get out of his own way last year.
All is forgiven now, however, and Noel Fehily steered him to his second course win at the track in the opening 3m handicap hurdle.
Fehily said: "I rode him at Doncaster last year and you wouldn't have wanted to lead him up, let alone ride him. He's come a long way in a short space of time."
Alan Johns made his trip from Wales for one ride worthwhile when Tanit River made an impressive debut over fences in the 3m½f novice handicap chase.
The 2-1 chance slammed the rest of the field to the tune of 21 lengths for trainer Tim Vaughan, who was also on the mark at Ludlow with Show's Over.
Johns said: "He usually needs dropping in but as nobody wanted to go on I thought he could have a good look at the fences."
There were only nine boards bookmakers and about 25 per cent of the average crowd, but officials would happily stage another replacement fixture.
General manager Kevin Ackermann said: "We put up a substantial bid to host the fixture and are the ideal place to hold such fixtures as we now race only ten days a year and the ground is fresh.
"We were very pleased about the field sizes, apart from a few non-runners, and another advantage is that we're easy to get to as we're in the heart of England."
Thought for the day
Towcester could well corner the market in staging replacement fixtures with only ten meetings a year; they offer a readymade alternative to the jumpers' bumpers all-weather cards you sometimes get in the winter. With the ground less damaged, such meetings at the Northants track could become a regular feature.