Twenty four after Paisley Park claimed the Stayers’ Hurdle, her seven-year-old gelding won the day’s feature in emphatic fashion from The Conditional in second and Elegant Escape in third.
The victory was perhaps all the more credible given that De Rasher Counter had finished 21 lengths back in sixth having been favourite over two miles and seven furlongs on soft ground at Uttoxeter back in October.
The Ladbrokes Trophy – formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup – has produced some fine winners in the past which have gone onto become famous names and De Rasher Counter could be set to be another in that category. On good to soft ground, 20-year-old jockey Ben Jones moved his mount to the fore with just over half the race to run and the pair never looked letting go of it despite a late challenge from outside The Conditional.
It meant another victory to the Makin’ Bacon Partnership, with owner Andrew Gemmell describing the two days in Berkshire as “pretty special”.
Lavelle said “This weekend has been unbelievable and I’m so proud of everyone at home who has helped get these horses right for it. It’s so special for everybody. We’ve got such patient owners and they give the horses time.
“This horse could have gone to Cheltenham last season, but mentally we didn’t think he was ready for it and the owners were prepared to wait for this.
“It’s magical it has come off because we all know so often it doesn’t. I can’t believe it.
“My husband Barry [Fenton] and I watched this race together and we don’t normally because we irritate each other so much, but the horse was always in the right place and was jumping and travelling and – it’s probably the wrong phrase – but that innocence of youth from Ben might have helped.
“You don’t know what can go wrong and he’s riding at the top of this game – as Barry said, he was riding on instinct.”
Elsewhere on the busy winter card at Newbury, trainer Nicky Henderson helped himself to a winning treble in some style.
Floressa got the ball rolling in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle as jockey Nico de Boinvillewith steered the winner to a comfortable length and a half victory from Jeremys Flame in second and Silver Forever in third.
Henderson then saw Jeremiah McGrath guide The Cashel Man to a huge 10 length success in the Handicap Hurdle over two miles and four and a half furlongs. Mr Pumblechook came in second leading third place Star Of Lanka by four lengths with the same distance back to Howling Milan in fourth.
The treble was complete in the Intermediate Hurdle as favourite Epatante was equally as impressive under Aidan Coleman, winning the two mile contest by six lengths from French Crusader in second and Elusive Belle in third.
Jockey Harry Cobden and trainer Paul Nicholls also combined to good effect to land a double, the first of which came in the Grade 2 listed John Francome Novices’ Chase. Danny Whizzbang lived up to its name with a four length romp from clear race favourite Reserve Tank in second and Ardlethen in third a further four and a half lengths back.
One victory became a double albeit in slightly closer fashion in the Handicap Chase (For The Jim Joel Memorial Trophy) as favourite Magic Saint edged out Bun Doran by a head; the leading pair a full eight lengths clear of Chesterfield back in third.