Rachael Blackmore edged one closer to Paul Townend in the jockeys’ championship, to now trail the defending champion by seven with six more meetings remaining.
Riding the easy to back Not Available in the second division of the New Sprint Two Day NH Race Meeting Maiden Hurdle at Kilbeggan, she stalked the pace being set by Buck’s Billionaire before driving her mount to the front and subsequently clear going to the last. It was winner number 88 of the season in Ireland for Blackmore, and 94 for winning trainer Henry de Bromhead.
The amateur jockeys’ championship is even closer, and there were a couple of significant results for that title.
Jamie Codd and Patrick Mullins began the day level, but there was an early blow to Codd’s bid as he was first past the post in the first division of the maiden hurdle, aboard Mylestown Upper, but lost the race in the stewards’ room. Victory was handed to Hymie Weiss, the first of two winners on the card for trainer Noel Meade, for whom Lignou completed the brace.
To rub salt in Codd’s wounds, Mullins won the two bumpers, both trained by his father, Willie. His first came aboard debutant Never Feel Blue, a half-sister to Bob Olinger running in the colours of Blue Blood Racing Club.
Mullins bided his time before sending his mount on inside the final furlong. In the second bumper, he made all the running aboard Kottayam and kicked clear to win impressively.
Mallow trainer Seamus Spillane and Youghal jockey Denis O’Regan teamed up to take the mares’ handicap hurdle with Irregularheartbeat before Adam Short caused a 28-1 upset winning the three-mile maiden hurdle aboard the Cormac Farrell-trained Shanavoun Lady.
When leader Ellipsism fell at the last in the three-mile handicap hurdle, Jack Kennedy took full advantage aboard the Ted Walsh-trained Pictures Of Home, who was overdue this breakthrough success.
Meanwhile, Harry Skelton will officially be crowned champion jump jockey in Britain at Sandown on Saturday after the clock ran out on Brian Hughes at Perth. Defending champion Hughes started the day 10 winners behind Skelton, who was in action at Exeter’s evening fixture.
Hughes had seven booked rides in Scotland, but after managing only one winner it became numerically impossible for him to catch Skelton.
The duo have been locked in an enthralling battle for the jockeys’ title, with Skelton reeling in early leader Hughes in the last few weeks before seizing the advantage at Southwell on April 13.
Skelton chalked up his 150th winner as part of a double at Ludlow on Wednesday - and with Hughes only having six rides today and one tomorrow, he cannot make up the lost ground.