WHAT A Steel produced a tremendous late run to land the £28,000 Totepool.com Cumbria Crystal Hurdle at Cartmel on Saturday - the richest ever race held by the Lake District course.
The 14-1 shot, who had been much nearer last than first in the early part of the race, picked up ground on leader Dineur to surge to the front more than a furlong out and win by two-and-a-half lengths.
The victory was one of the biggest for trainer Alistair Whillans, whose son Ewan rode the winner, and Alistair said: ““I thought he would run well, but it was such a competitive race that I thought we would be up against it.”
Dineur was second with Kim Bailey’s Valento staying on for third at 28-1.
Lucy Alexander, whose stock continues to rise, rode a peach of a race on Constant Contact to win the Cartmel Cheeses Lady Riders Handicap Hurdle, the first race of its kind to be staged at the course.
The 11-4 joint favourite looked likely to be trapped in a pocket when left short of racing room by the weakening Tough Talkin Man, but cleverly switched by his talented rider, Donald McCain’s gelding came round the outside to beat Hawkhill.
Alexander also emerged victorious to bring home 20-1 Pete in the Betfair Sponsors The Stable Staff Canteen Handicap Chase on Monday.
She pipped Jason Maguire’s Red Kingdom to the line, and the triumph means she is now second to Maguire in this year’s Cartmel Jockeys’ Challenge.
The disappointment of having victory snatched away for Red Kingdom’s trainer Dianne Sayer did not last long as the Penrith handler was quickly on the mark with Solis in the Burlington Stone Handicap Hurdle.
Although there were doubts about the gelding’s ability to see out the 2m6f trip, jockey Ryan Mania convinced owner Dennis Coppola to run and the decision was fully justified with an easy victory by 13 lengths from Dundock.
Nigel Twiston-Davies lost his chance of winning the big race on Saturday when Royal Riviera was pulled out, but he still made the long trip from Gloucestershire pay with a first and last race double on Monday thanks to Foundry Square and Desolait, both ridden by his son Sam.
Peter Bowen, who drew a blank on Saturday, also made up for it two days later when Lamboro Lad made the most of a polished Jamie Moore ride to take the featured Betfair Boosts Prize Money at Cartmel Handicap Chase by 14 lengths.