Ayr: Gallagher's double joy.
Few could have begrudged Gallagher his reward in the opening two races, as the jockey had been forced to journey up by car after riding at Exeter the previous afternoon.
"I'd hoped to get a flight to Prestwick, but there were no seats available," explained Gallagher. "There was nothing for it but to drive, and I was on the road for seven hours in total, though I did break the journey by stopping over at Haydock last night.
"That's 26 winners I've had now and it's the best start I've ever made. Having the retainer with Paul Green has helped me, and I'm also riding for some good-quality trainers like Paul Webber, Steve Gollings and Peter Monteith," he added.
It was Monteith, who celebrated his 51st birthday on New Year's Day, who provided Gallagher with the winning mount on Spartan Royale in the two-mile handicap hurdle, while a stroke of luck enabled the jockey to team up with the George Moore-trained Decoded in the novices' hurdle. Jason Callaghan, the intended rider, injured a shoulder in a fall at Uttoxeter the previous day.
Tim Reed shared the riding honours with Gallagher by also completing a double - at odds of 23-1 - on Windthrop and Thorntoun House.
"You can get a good tune out of an old fiddle," joked the senior northern jockey, who reckoned it must be at least six years since his previous double.
"I'm enjoying it more than ever," he added.
Lucinda Russell ended a six-month winnerless spell when Windthrop just got the better of the favourite Under Wraps in a thrilling finish to the staying novices' hurdle.
A first winner for owner Anne Grieve and her husband John, Windthrop was originally bought to be a show-jumper but proved so intractable that that plan was shelved, and his nervous tendencies have made for some hair-raising moments.
"It has taken us three years to get him to canter without trying to buck off his jockey," said Russell, who shares responsibility for riding this "lovely horse" at home with Jamie Duff.
Russ Garritty, rider of the runner-up, felt unwell afterwards and was signed off for the rest of the day. He was suffering from a viral infection, but hoped to be back at Musselburgh today.
The Howard Johnson-trained River Unshion, under a never-say-die ride from David Parker, got on top close home in the handicap chase and narrowly denied last year's winner Chipped Out, while Ad Hoc justified odds-on favouritism under Tony Dobbin to capture the novices' chase for Len Lungo.
The longest-priced winner of the day was Aide Memoire, who obliged at 16-1 in the three-mile handicap hurdle for Robert Johnson and his jockey-son Kenny to deny the 11 remaining Scoop6 hopefuls.
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|Publication:||The Racing Post (London, England)|
|Date:||Jan 4, 2000|
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