A HAT-TRICK of local winners was the highlight of Hereford races on Wednesday with wins for trainers Venetia Williams, Tom Symonds and Matt Shephard.

The stable of trainer Venetia Williams is in fine form at present and the Kings Caple handler sent out her 34th win of the year when her Arqalina was a convincing winner of the two-mile five-furlong Handicap Chase at Hereford races on Wednesday, writes Graham Saveker

Partnered by rider Hugh Nugent the nine-year-old, like many on William’s horses seemed to enjoy the testing going and despite the strong challenge of Pottlereaghexpress and his jockey Tom Cannon over the final three fences Arqalina stayed on resolutely to record a five and a half length win.

This gave Williams an across the card double with Destinee Royale scoring at Weatherby races in the hands of stable jockey Charlie Deutsch leaving the stable in good form with the Cheltenham Festival only a month away and the possibility of running their smart novice Royale Pigaille in the Gold Cup beginning to rise.

Another local in the winners enclosure was Hoarwithy trainer Tom Symonds, who scored with previous course and distance winner Royal Claret in the extended three mile Mares Handicap hurdle but the honours went to jockey Ben Poste.

Poste took the plaudits after the never say never win where he cajoled Royal Claret back into contention throughout the final circuit until challenging off the final bend and the pair were not to be denied by staying on grimly for a tenacious one length win over rival Aurelia Or.

The hat-trick of local winners was completed when Eastnor trainer Matt Shephard sent out the shock 50/1 winner Hardy Articos in the two mile three furlong handicap hurdle, who scored by a nose from Bring The Action in the hands of jockey Sam Twiston-Davies.

Another trainer with eyes on Cheltenham, with a number of leading runners is the trainer-rider combination of Kim Bailey and David Bass who are also in fine form and they scored again at the track with their Equs Dreamer in the extended three mile Maiden hurdle.

Despite not being fluent at many of his hurdles Equs Dreamer responded well to pressure from Bass and the partnership drew clear to score by a length from the persistent runner-up Slipway.

Also celebrating on the day, away from Hereford, was Byton trainer Kerry Lee who scored her 100th career in England win when her Cheltenham Festival hope Ballybegg battled to a hard fought victory in the hands of jockey Richard Patrick at Wetherby races and the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham could be next on the agenda.