OUR Joey – who suffered a crashing fall at the course on his hurdling debut last time – returned victorious to Kelso on Sunday for Hawick handler George Bewley and his jockey son, Jonathon.
The gelding enjoyed a welcome change of fortune to land the British Stallion Studs Supporting British Racing EBF National Hunt novices hurdle race by a convincing 13 lengths.
The five-year-old was well in contention when running out on his previous appearance at Ayr, but enjoyed a faultless round to record a popular victory at his local track.
Dual bumper winner Our Joey battled gamely in testing conditions to land the spoils from 25-1 chance Tikkandmickey from Raymond Shiels’ Jedburgh stable.
“We think a lot of him,” said George Bewley, who trains at Southdean, near Chesters.
“I think something just caught his eye at Ayr last time. I don’t think he would have been far away,” he added.
Former ladies’ point-to-point champion Catherine Walton landed the afternoon’s feature Electricity Network Solutions handicap chase riding Saddlepack.
Trained by her stepfather, Jimmy, the gelding jumped well, seeing off Prince Tam from Harriet Graham’s Jedburgh stable by 11 lengths. Top Gigio finished third for Jedburgh permit-holder Robert Bewley, George’s brother.
Saddle Pack always travelled well and quickened away when asked to record his third win over fences.
His task was made all the easier by the exit of the Alistair Whillans-trained favourite Gleann Na Ndochais, who unseated his jockey son Ewan at the halfway stage.
Trainer Nicky Richards’ sole runner at the track was a winning one – Duke of Navan headed the opener.
The course had survived a precautionary 8am inspection, after the forecast of overnight frost, but the first race of the card was run in driving snow.
Duke of Navan produced a sound performance in a strong-looking Cheltenham Grade 2 race on his last outing, and posted a comfortable success in the opening Adam Smith 21 today novices hurdle race.
The victory qualifies him for the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, although the Dovecote Novice Hurdle at Kempton is a possible alternative.
“He won well even though they went no pace – he’s a horse who wants a proper gallop and he’s bred to want proper ground,” said the winning trainer.
Five went to post in the British Stallion Studs/Thoroughbred Breeders Association EBF mares novices chase, won by the Tim Walford-trained Fentara.
It was a welcome confidence-booster for the winner, who suffered a crashing fall at Catterick on her previous outing. In cheekpieces for the first time, the eight-year-old came home 38 lengths clear of Micro Mission, with the Stuart Coltherd-trained Royal Curtsy a further 52 lengths back in third, the only other finisher.
Jockey Barry Keniry recorded his seventh winner of the season riding Notonebuttwo to land the “Live at the Bar” handicap hurdle race.
Trained by ex-jockey Chris Grant, the winner held a brave challenge from Rayson Nixon’s stable stalwart Political Paddy, with See the Legend in third for Sandy Forster.
Soul Angel looked to have the race in the bag for Yetholm trainer Sandy Foster in the Isle of Skye Blended Scotch Whisky handicap chase, with a four-length advantage up the run-in.
Despite a gallant effort to hold on, the testing conditions took their toll on the gelding and his brave effort was thwarted in the closing stages by the Ferdy Murphy-trained Mansonien L’As who got up by a length and a quarter, in-form jockey James Reveley’s 30th winner of the season.
Billsgrey, in the colours of local owners John and Mary Stenhouse, finished third for Hawick handler Willie Amos.
A competitive 11-strong and far-travelled field came under orders for the season’s first hunter chase.
Cottage Oak had the upper hand at the penultimate fence in the CGA Foxhunter Trial open hunters’ chase, and despite a last-fence blunder, held on to his advantage to give Paddy Gerety his first success under Rules.
Challenger Penmore Hill unshipped Tom Ellis at the last, leaving Sacred Mountain running on to take second for the Walton family.
A winner of two races from two outings last month, Cottage Oak is being aimed for Cheltenham in March.
“He will go for the Foxhunter at Cheltenham and he will take a lot of beating on better ground,” enthused winning owner Richard Hewitt.
Racing returns to Kelso on Thursday, February 14.
12.50 – DUKE OF NAVAN (B Harding) 7-4; 2, Big Water 8-1; 3, Woodpole Academy evs fav. 13 ran. N Richards, Greystoke.
1.20 – FENTARA (D Jacobs) 8-11 fav; 2, Micro Mission 15-8; 3, Royal Curtsy 50-1. Five ran. T. Walford, N Yorks.
1.50 – OUR JOEY (J Bewley) 8-1; 2, Tikkandmickey 25-1; 3, Corrin Wood 1-4 fav. Seven ran. G Bewley, Hawick.
2.20 – SADDLEPACK (C Walton) 10-1; 2, Prince Tam 7-1; 3, Top Gigio 5-1. Six ran. J Walton, Northumberland.
2.50 – NOTONEBUTTWO (B Keniry) 5-1; 2, Political Paddy 12-1; 3, See the Legend 12-1. 13 ran. C Grant, Co Durham.
3.20 – MANSONIEN L’AS (J Reveley) 5-2; 2, Soul Angel 18-1; 3, Billsgrey 16-1. Eight ran. F Murphy, Leyburn.
3.50 – COTTAGE OAK (P Gerety) 11-4; 2, Sacred Mountain 25-1; 3, Benefit Night 9-1. 11 ran. J J O’Shea, Gt Manchester.