Hamilton Park staged the eagerly-anticipated Ladbrokes Lanark Silver Bell Racenight for the ninth year running to complete the highly successful Premier 5 fixture series.
An evening of high-quality racing with over £64,000 in prize money on offer and fantastic entrainment was enjoyed by over 5,000 racegoers, with the historic feature contest producing a stirring blanket finish.
The action-filled extravaganza got underway with the inaugural running of the SPFL Mascot Race – which was won by Greenock Morton’s Cappie The Cat at odds of 20/1 having reportedly not been race-fit.
Hamilton’s very own ‘The Duke’ was bidding to notch back-to-back victories in the race after claiming the prize 12 months ago, but was unable to land a blow this time around.
The £26,000 Ladbrokes Lanark Silver Bell Handicap was undoubtedly the main attraction of the night, with trainer Mark Johnston aiming to win the race for a sixth time after dominating the last three renewals.
The race’s original trophy is believed to be the oldest sporting trophy in existence, having been gifted to the people of Lanark by King William ‘The Lion’ in 1165.
Since being reinstated at Hamilton in 2008, the near 1,000-year-old trophy was on display in the winners’ enclosure alongside the Scottish Premiership trophy prior to racing.
The race was won by 20/1 shot Multellie for trainer Tim Easterby and jockey Cam Hardie, who celebrated his biggest success since returning north of the border.
After making the bold decision to end his four-year association with Southern handler Richard Hannon in June, the 20-year-old is certainly making a name for himself on the Flat scene as he continues to impress in the saddle.
The youngster shot to prominence after riding 59 winners as an apprentice two seasons ago and was touted as the next ‘big thing’, but admitted he found opportunities hard to come by after losing his claim.
One trainer who was quick to recognise the talents Hardie possessed when he first started riding out at the age of 16 was Malton-based Tim Easterby and the pair have since forged a terrific partnership.
Seemingly within the handicappers grip after a string of near misses, Multellie was held up in behind the leaders for much of the contest by Hardie and eventually sneaked through to mount a late thrust and collar 9/2 favourite Lord Yeats on the line.
“I was a bit lucky there so I’m absolutely over the moon!” the winning rider admitted afterwards.
“The gaps appeared when I needed them and he only just got up to win. He’s shown his best form on his last couple of starts. He didn’t get things his own way on his latest run at Haydock but he needs this soft ground and a good gallop to aim at. He seems to stay all day and loved the hill”.
5Ib claimer Hollie Doyle made her first ride at Hamilton a winning one as she steered 4/1 shot Courier to victory in the £18,000 EBF Stallions Scottish Premier Series Fillies’ Handicap for Stillington-based handler Marjorie Fife.
Upped two grades in class after victories at Carlisle and Thirsk, the four-year-old is in the form of her life and the burden of a 6Ib penalty for those wins wasn’t enough to prevent her from completing a three-timer.
Trainer James Given was successful with his only runner on the card as the progressive Tawny Port (4/1 co-fav) completed a hat-trick of wins in the 6f Ladbrokes Nursery Handicap.
Having won at Haydock and Nottingham on his last two starts, the Arcano colt was always travelling smoothly under Tom Eaves and quickened up well to come home 1¾ lengths clear.
Eaves completed a double on the evening half-an-hour later aboard the Iain Jardine-trained Now Children (3/1) who powered clear in the closing stages to take the 1m Whysettle IT Maiden.
Running in the familiar silks of high-profile northern owners Paul & Clare Rooney, the two-year-old confirmed the promise off his debut second at Carlisle (6f) with an emphatic 3½ length success over this longer trip.
The winning trainer, who has his horses in terrific form, said: “He’s a lovely horse and has built on the back of his run at Carlisle. He’ll be a nice horse for the future. I’m delighted to have a winner for Mr & Mrs Rooney – there horses are going really well at the moment”.
Jockey Shirley Teasdale gave 50/1 rank outsider Amy Blair an enterprising ride from the front to land the 1m Handicap for the track’s leading trainer for the season, Keith Dalgleish.
Having shown little notable form in handicap company, racegoers were left stunned as Teasdale opened up a 10 length lead on the field coming down the hill and the gelding was not for catching to spring a surprise.
The theme of big-priced winners continued in the closing 5f Download The Ladbrokes App Handicap as Knockamany Bends (16/1), made most of the running in the hands of Barry McHugh to win a shade comfortably for trainer John Wainwright.
After racing concluded, Blondie tribute band ‘Dirty Harry’ took to the stage to entertain the packed galleries by performing a number of well-remembered hits, including ‘The Tide is High’ and ‘Hanging On The Telephone’.