Ruth Jefferson lands Morebattle Hurdle with Cryius Darius
Last Updated: 15/02/18 5:16pm
Ruth Jefferson saddled her first winner as a trainer as Cyrus Darius bolted up to repeat his victory of 12 months ago in the Timeform Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso.
The smart performer was of course trained by Jefferson's father, Malcolm, who died two weeks ago. His funeral is on Friday in Malton.
Jefferson has only saddled a handful of runners in her own name but it was perhaps fitting that one of the better horses in the yard would break her duck.
A Grade Two winner as a novice, his chasing career has not reached the heights that once looked likely, but back over smaller obstacles he looked in a different league to his three rivals.
Cyrus Darius (5-2) travelled like a dream throughout for Brian Hughes and the heavy ground did not stop him pulling 12 lengths clear of Better Getalong.
Jefferson has been left with a yard in rude health, with the likes of Cloudy Dream, Mount Mews and the potentially top-class Waiting Patiently, who runs in the Grade One Ascot Chase on Saturday, among the stable stars.
Jefferson said: "I'm thrilled. We just weren't convinced big field handicaps were going to be his thing.
"We couldn't see him handling the big handicap chases so we made the decision to go back hurdling for a bit with this in mind and it came together perfectly.
"He's not a bad chaser, he just doesn't fiddle that well in close. If he meets his fences right he's fine but in big fields you get too far back.
"We'll look at some of the nicer races in the spring, we're not saying he'll never go back over fences, we might mix and match."
On saddling her first winner, she added: "Once the horses were switched into my name you obviously want the first winner as soon as possible. Nothing has run badly and we haven't had many runners.
"Brian (Hughes) text me hoping Cloudy Dream would be my first the other day. I wasn't sure over three miles, but I knew we had some nice horses running this week so I was hopeful."
Lucinda Russell has another nice staying chaser on her hands in the shape of Big River (6-4) judged on his victory in the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase.
The eight-year-old has suffered from an irregular heartbeat in the past but is clearly very talented, winning for the sixth time in just 12 outings.
Odds-on favourite Shantou River gave him something to aim at, but Derek Fox always looked to have him covered aboard Big River before pulling away from a solid yardstick for a four-and-a-half-length win.
Keith Dalgleish notched up his second double in as many days after his brace at Musselburgh on Wednesday.
Taxmeifyoucan (11-2) scored in the Paxtons Borders Depot For Genuine Kverneland Novices' Hurdle under Brian Hughes, before Mac N Cheese (3-1) took the Brewin Dolphin Handicap Hurdle in the hands of Callum Bewley.
The long trip north was worthwhile for Peter and Sean Bowen as Ron's Dream (4-7 favourite) got off the mark over fences in the EBF/TBA Mares' Novices' Chase