Wedding blues for title-chasing Hughes

A wedding commitment caused Richard Hughes to miss the opportunity of bolstering his title challenge with two Richard Hannon-trained winners at Leicester today.

Hughes' agent Tony Hind confirmed his absence was due to a ceremony, believed to be in Ireland, while his rival Paul Hanagan increased his lead in the table to 17 with one score at Hamilton.

Jimmy Fortune stood in for Hannon's stable jockey on both occasions, initiating the double with a two-length success on 5-9 favourite Vanguard Dream in the four-runner EBF Kegworth Novice Stakes.

A debut scorer at Goodwood just over a week ago, connections had been slightly unsure that day whether the diminutive Oasis Dream juvenile had much scope for improvement but this unflustered performance could not be crabbed.

The next came aboard the blinkered Essexbridge (4-1), a now rather disappointing customer dropped to the lowest possible level in the Henry Alken Claiming Stakes.

Martin Dwyer had to be taken to Leicester Royal hospital after being thrown from Red Lite, who swerved to the left close home when looking poised to take division two of the Aston Flamville Fillies' Nursery.

The race was then handed to George Margarson's Speedfit Girl (7-2), while there was a considerable delay to the final heats as another ambulance was summoned.

Dwyer's father-in-law, trainer William Muir, said: "He didn't lose consciousness, which is a good thing and means he didn't bang his head.

"It looked more like he had damaged his collar bone, he knew everything and knew who the doctor was.

"He was talking and he recognised me when I came over and he said his left arm was sore."

Division one was pocketed by Catherine Gannon, who made the all-important move to the far rail to make all on Country Waltz (4-1).

There was a decent turnout and finish to the Oadby feature, the Harry Spooner 100th Birthday Handicap.

The 81-95-rated five-furlong sprint developed into a three-way tussle between Desert Phantom, Fathom Five and Noodles Blue Boy from some way out and it was eventually the latter at 14-1 who pinched it by a head from the first-named 3-1 favourite.

The winner, ridden by Franny Norton, was another feather in the cap of bright young trainer Ollie Pears.

Part-owner Keith West said: "He was unlucky at Doncaster last time and I was quite surprised at his price.

"Ollie asked if I wanted to buy this one and (prolific winner) Sir George but I just took him and that's his second win this year.

"I also have Rowan Lodge, who has done really well.

"Ollie says this horse will be better next year. I'm from Doncaster and hopefully the five and a half furlongs of the Portland will be ideal, and maybe then things like the Ayr Silver Cup."

There was a laughter-filled turn from the twinkle-eyed centurion sponsor, who flirted with an At The Races camerawoman and promised to return when he is 101.

Easier conditions gave a belated chance for Scooby Dee (25-1) to come from last to first in the Golden Hand Selling Stakes.

Simon Whitaker, son and assistant to father Richard, said: "We'd been at a bit of a loss what to do with her, but to be fair that is the first time she has had a bit of cut in the ground.

"I said to Daragh if they went quick, just to sit on her."

Some 40 minutes later than advertised, Gannon completed a double with an inspirational ride on Tevez in the Adrenalin Tattoos, Luton 10th Anniversary Handicap.

The pint-sided jockey is now three-from-three with Des Donovan's gelding.

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