TRAINER Tom Symonds was toasting the beginning of Cheltenham Festival week as the Harewood End trainer scored a double at Hereford Racecourse's Ladies' Day with wins for his Royal Claret and Hollywoodien.

Royal Claret was sent off at 4/1 in the seven runner extended three-mile handicap hurdle but it was only over the final half-mile that her supporters began to feel at ease as the Symonds trained runner warmed to her task and began to stay on determinedly taking the lead at the final hurdle to score by five and a half lengths from the chasing Oscar Asche.

Symonds sent out the odds on favourite Saint De Vassy in the two-mile handicap chase later in the afternoon but despite being at the head of affairs for the early part of the race he dropped away tamely before pulling up, this left stable companion Hollywoodien to forge into a clear lead and win unopposed by 12 lengths in the hands of Aiden Coleman.

Returning after the win Symonds said: “He’s not been easy to train but I’m delighted for the owners who have been very patient with him."

Symonds also had promising news of his stable star Song for Someone, owned like Hollywoodien by Sir Peter and Lady Gibbings, who was firing on all cylinders and could be seen out soon to follow up his recent Ascot success.

Another local winner on the card, fittingly for Ladies' Day, was Kings Caple trainer Venetia Williams who prepared for her Cheltenham week with the win of the promising Farrants Way in the extended three-mile maiden hurdle.

Ridden quietly by Charlie Deutsch the well bred son of Shantou, owned by national hunt stalwart Trevor Hemmings, arrived at the third last hurdle full of running in the rain softened ground and stayed on resolutely to record a four and a half length win over his four opponents.

The win was surely a preclude to a successful campaign over fences next season, especially when stamina will be required.

Trainer Dan Skelton and brother Harry were also successful at the double with wins for NorthoftheWall, an ultra-impressive 19 length winner in the opening two-mile three furlong novices hurdle and Go Steady in the two mile five furlong handicap chase.

The concluding race on the card, the two-mile five furlong handicap hurdle, went to EagleHill, completing a double on the card for jockey Aiden Coleman, however opinion was divided as to whether he would have scored if the well supported 9/4 favourite Frankly Speaking hadn’t made a bad blunder at the final hurdle when two lengths to the good.

Eagle Hill pounced on the mistake and Coleman kept his mount going to score by one and a half lengths.