BYTON based trainer Kerry Lee got Hereford Races underway with the perfect start seeing Ballybegg take the opening victory of the meeting.

Hereford races took place on Monday, after the racecourse passed an early morning course inspection following the recent spell of freezing conditions, writes Graham Saveker

Partnered by jockey Richard Patrick, the well supported third favourite Ballybegg was always at the head of affairs in the 16 runner two-mile and three-furlong race.

The partnership drew clear easily after the third from last hurdle to score by 18 lengths and give Lee her ninth winner of the season in the style of a promising prospect.

Jockey Aiden Coleman was the in-form jockey at the track and his runner Spirit of Waterloo was a surprise 25/1 short head winner of the extended three-mile novices handicap hurdle triumphing under a determined ride for his retained stable of trainer Aiden Murphy.

Coleman forced his mount to keep a positive position on the final circuit and battled on well over the final two hurdles when challenged by Samtara and held on well to record a short heads win and a welcome winner for the rider – trainer partnership.

Coleman remarked after his win and with a portent of what was to come.

He said: “It’s always been a good hunting ground for me and I really enjoy coming here; it’ll be great when the crowds come back as there’s always a lovely atmosphere.”

This was the first leg of a treble for jockey Coleman as he followed his opening winner up later with the easy win of Port of Mars in the extended three-mile Beginners Chase, again combining with Aiden Murphy and in the following two-mile five-furlong handicap chase Coleman scored again on Flagrant Deltiep.

This time riding for Dorset trainer Robert Walford, Coleman got his mount Flagrant Deltiep, the 5/4 favourite, jumping well throughout the race and he challenged approaching the second from last fence and his mount stayed on well to win by a length and three-quarters from runner-up Orrisdale.

Another jockey in winning form at the Holmer track was Sam Twiston–Davies who scored on The Mick Preston in the two mile Handicap hurdle and then in the concluding Bumper race on Ballybough Mary, both for his trainer father Nigel.