Kestrel hits Hereford target after pre-race drama

Kestrel Valley brought trainer Kerry Lee both pleasure and pain in victory at Hereford on Friday.

Trainer Kerry Lee.
Trainer Kerry Lee. Picture: Pat Healy Photography

Lee had led the nine-year-old down the chute to the track ahead of the Follow @bresbet On Twitter Novices' Handicap Chase, but the mare spooked and the handler was pulled over, landing on her face.

Though shaken and sporting nasty grazes to her right eye and hands, she recovered her composure to welcome home the 6-5 favourite, who cruised to a 34-length success.

Lee said: "It is not her fault. It is just an occupational hazard. I went to lead her on to the course and she basically launched and took me with her. I hit these lovely rubber tiles and with your cheekbone, it can hurt a bit."

She added: "I'm fine. At least she won. I'll be all right. Isn't it brilliant to see her doing well? She is really enjoying racing.

"It was nice to put back-to-back wins together. I knew she was well, knew she was a happy horse and we came here rather than Exeter on Sunday. It was either a 16-grand race or a nine-grand race. What are you going to do?

"We are still in 0-100 company and we can't get carried away. It is difficult to start getting too confident. It is good to get a filly on an upward curve."

On Ladies Day, Venetia Williams was on the mark with Jikala, who looked to be sauntering to success in the Bresbet: Back To Bookmaking Juvenile Maiden Hurdle under 7lb claimer Ned Fox, only to idle at the end of the two-mile affair.

After Jikala held off Charles St to score by a short head, Williams said: "She didn't enjoy herself at Sandown last time, which was a stronger race. When they turned for home and kicked in deep ground, she didn't enjoy it.

"We thought we'd come here today and kick on."

Anthony Honeyball's string is in great heart and I Giorni followed up her recent third in a novice hurdle at Wincanton in the Cazoo Mares' Novices' Handicap under Rex Dingle, while David Bridgewater struck in the two-mile-five-furlong handicap chase with Pawpaw.

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