JOE Anderson described riding his first winner on Norse Castle at the Warwickshire meeting at Mollington, near Banbury, as a massive relief.
The 21-year-old, who hails from Liverpool, broke his duck at the 25th attempt aboard the son of Norse Dancer in the 2m 4f FN Pile Four, Five & Six-Year-Olds Open Maiden.
Anderson lost an iron at the last fence on the five-year-old, trained by Sarah Bosley at Chalfont St Giles, as he challenged Order In Court, and kicked out the other leg, before driving the 16-1 outsider home by three lengths.
"It's a massive relief," said Anderson, who works for Nigel Twiston-Davies. "He jumped very well and when I saw the front two swing wide I nipped up the inner. He went to one side after the last and I lost an iron, so I kicked the other one out as I didn't want to fall off a winner. I knew coming into it he had a live chance. The step up in trip and with it being first time over fences has brought out the best in him. I have got to give a lot of credit to Sarah."
Bosley, who has just a couple of point-to-pointers, was recording her first winner for five years, having taken over Norse Castle after he had shown little on the Flat and over hurdles for her husband, Martin, following his purchase out of David Elsworth's yard at the Tattersalls Sales.
"He is a real big baby. He should have been a store horse really," said Bosley, who owns the gelding in partnership with her husband and Anthony and Amy Randle. "As soon as we schooled him over fences he had a new lease of life."
Aston Rowant trainer Alan Hill reeled off a double in the two feature races with Ravethebrave taking the Skinner's Pet Foods Ladies' Open, before Pride Of Parish landed the 2m 4f Claydon Horse Exercisers Men's Open.
Izzie Marshall executed waiting tactics to perfection on the 14-year-old Ravethebrave, joining Blue Mountain Boy at the last fence, before forging clear on the run-in to score by two lengths.
The rider said: "He is some horse. I played a stalking game. He was awesome and he just quickened. He jumped out of his skin over the last two fences."
Hill's wife, Lawney, explained that it had been a late decision to run Ravethebrave rather than fellow veteran Consigliere as they felt his turn of foot may prove decisive.
"He is a legend," she said. "That means a lot to us. I had my first ride here and Alan and my son, Joe, have had winners here. The course is close to our hearts. Izzie rode him perfectly. He can be very strong and to take a pull is not easy and she has got the confidence to do that."
Pride Of Parish completed Hill's brace of winners when taking up the running at the second-last under Dale Peters before quickly going clear of Brackloon High for a six-lengths success.
Hill now plans to run the eight-year-old, who is owned by the Sunday Night Partnership, in the handicap hunters' chase at Stratford on June 8.
"He won at Kimble and we brought him home and freshened him up and Joe said his work was awesome the other day," commented the trainer.
Peters completed a riding double when taking the Sir James Shuckburgh Bt Restricted Race on Benefit Of Luck, whom he also trains at Sawtry in Cambridgeshire.
The six-year-old regained the lead from The Jaffna Queen at the second-last and stayed on best to land the spoils by 12 lengths.
Benefit Of Luck is owned by James Henderson, who found him too much of a handful when he had him in his Buscot Park yard, near Faringdon, and sent him to Peters after he failed to complete in his first two starts.
"He was a nightmare and runs a race in the truck before he gets here, but Dale is very skilled," he said.
Peters added: "He is a real talent. I do everything with him at home. I think he is a bit of a one-to-one horse. I think he will keep improving, and is very exciting for next season."
Sam Lee also recorded a double, taking the Butler Sherborn Warwickshire Hunt Members', Subscribers' & Farmers' Race on Dandan and the Ray Randerson Carpets PPORA Club Members' Maiden aboard It'll Be Grand.
Lee sent Dandan, from Francesca Moller's nearby Sibford Ferris's stables, into the lead at the fourth-last and the ten-year-old galloped away to pass the post five lengths ahead of Thyne For Ruda.
Owner Hugh Wilson's father, Guy, reported that it had taken a long time to get Dandan back on track after he had fallen and brought down a rival at Andoversford last season.
"I think he pecked a bit and someone jumped on his back," he said. "We ran him in this race because we were worried that it might have affected him psychologically."
Lee had to work hard as It'll Be Grand, trained by his mother, Katie Lee, at Blisworth, near Northampton, went one better than last year in the finale by grinding out a length victory over Only A Tipple.
"He tested me," smiled the rider. "His jumping is sharper and I can't believe he got there - what a beauty. It's great that it's a winner for mum."
The trainer, who was notching her first success since 2016, owns the nine-year-old with David Fitzgerald, who was quickly on the phone from Ayr where he was working as a racecourse commentator for At The Races.
"David rides him out," she said. "The horse deserved it. It's his second season with me and he had only one run previously to that. He was in David Pipe's yard until we bought him at Ascot for peanuts."
Neumond returned to winning ways for Stuart Morris's West Haddon stables, near Rugby, in the Avonvale Equine Practice South Midlands Area Conditions Race.
The seven-year-old went clear after jumping into the lead at the fourth-last under Jack Andrews, and despite tiring on the run-in he still had five lengths to spare over Velvet Cognac.
The Judy Wilson-owned gelding had finished fifth on his only other start this term back in January, and Morris explained: "After he ran at Thorpe Lodge he was crippled lame and stood in the box for eight weeks. He needs decent ground and I would say he will improve for the run, so I am chuffed to bits with the win."
Andrews added: "It is good to get him back on track. He landed a four-timer last year and he is a fantastic little horse."