Mountain Bell (Ralph Beckett/Josephine Gordon, 2/1 Fav) came from last to first to land the £25,000 Betway Conditions Race at Newcastle today, Saturday, December 16.
The extended two-mile Tapeta contest was a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships Final over two miles on Polytrack at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, March 30. Following her success today, Mountain Bell gains a free and automatic place in the Good Friday contest.
The four-year-old Mount Nelson filly, who is owned by Qatar Racing Limited, raced at the rear of the seven-strong field as Watersmeet (Mark Johnston/P J McDonald, 5/2) made the running, with Cape Cova (Mick Appleby/Dougie Costello, 33/1) and Cohesion (David Bridgwater/Graham Lee, 5/1) disputing second place.
Mountain Bell did not appear to be travelling well and still had plenty to do as the field entered the final straight. It was not until she approached the last quarter mile that she really found her stride. Coming with a strong run, Mountain Bell took the lead inside the final half-furlong and at the finish she was an ultimately comfortable two-length winner from Cape Cova with Watersmeet another short-head back in third.
The winning time was 3m 31.36s.
Winning rider Josephine Gordon was partnering her 106th winner of 2017, further extending her record number of British winners in a year by a female jockey (the previous record was 100 winners, achieved by Hayley Turner in 2008). Gordon was also partnering her second successive Fast-Track Qualifier winner, having scored aboard the Hugo Palmer-trained Never Back Down at Wolverhampton seven days’ ago.
Gordon said after her victory today: “I didn’t want to jump out of the gates last, but Mountain Bell was very keen early on and I tried to switch her off.
“She eventually did switch off and if anything she switched off a bit too much and made it hard work. This was her first time over two miles and I’d rather she was like that rather than running away and doing too much.
“When she finally got the hang of it, she has won quite comfortably. It is hard to come from the back here, especially when there is not much pace on but she has done it nicely. I gave two little flicks and she got into the race.
“Newcastle is a big, galloping track but I don’t see why she wouldn’t handle Lingfield. The good thing here is the long straight, which helped her today. If she settles better, you would like to ride her a bit handier.”