Newbury's last jumps card of the season: Neil King's special winner
Local trainer Neil King had good reason to remember his first winner at Newbury since February 2008 when The Knot Is Tiedwon the Be Wiser Insurance Juvenile Handicap Hurdle race under champion jockey Richard Johnson.
This was his 34th victory of the season - equalling his best ever score. King trains at Upper Herdswick Farm, Burderop - just over the downs from Barbury Castle.
Richard Johnson, who rode a double at the track at Friday's meeting, repeated the feat during Newbury's final jump card of the season (Saturday, March 23) with his win on The Knot Is Tied and then on Gala Ballin the Doom Bar Handicap Chase - wins that gave him the track’s leading jockey title.
Gala Ballwas trained by Philip Hobbs whose yard collected the Best Turned Out Award for winning the most prizes during the season.
Stars on parade
Altior brought some stardust to the final Newbury jumps meeting of the 2018-19 season when the dual Champion Chase winner led a parade of trainer Nicky Henderson’s heroes of the Cheltenham Festival.
The jumping superstar, unbeaten in 18 starts over hurdles and fences, was joined by Triumph Hurdle winner Pentland Hills, Coral Cup winner William Henry and Beware The Bear, who captured the Ultima Handicap Chase.
Henderson, who finished leading trainer at Newbury, said: “Everyone at Newbury has been very helpful to me during the season and we are delighted to bring them to support the racecourse."
“Looking ahead to Aintree I think Altior will run there and we will up him in trip to two and a half miles. We have been told we need to up him in trip to be considered a true champion but he has won 18 out of 18, he can’t do much more.”
Annie Mc's Love Island fan
Love Island star Chris Hughes revelled in an 'unbelievable' victory at Newbury on Saturday after Annie Mc, the mare owned by the Coral Champions Club of which he is the ambassador, landed the Grade 2 EBF & TBA Mares Novice Hurdle Series Final.
Between TV and other commitments Hughes regularly rides out on the Jonjo O’Neill-trained five-year-old and so had a personal connection to the mare who ran out the emphatic eight lengths winner of the £40,000 contest under the trainer’s son Jonjo Jnr.
Chris Hughes called her victory 'unbelievable': “What a result for her. It means a lot. I love that horse. It’s nice to have a relationship with the horse by riding them out. She runs her heart out every time."
“She was apparently giving weight today but it didn’t look like it. What a horse, what a talent. She is five-years-old and next year chasing is the aim".
“The Club has three horses so I am down at Colin Tizzard’s a bit and Tim Vaughan’s. Every couple of weeks I ride Annie Mcand she is brilliant. I first sat on her the second day she got to Jonjo’s when she was settling in. She was a very good purchase.”
There was further reason to celebrate the success as the win secured for Jonjo Junior a £500 cheque for finishing the Newbury jumps campaign as leading conditional rider.