THE Herefordshire partnership of jockey Stan Sheppard and trainer Tom Lacey were in the winners enclosure at Hereford Racecourse on Monday with the win of their Highstakesplayer in the two-mile five-furlong Novices Handicap Chase.

Ledbury based Sheppard was always sat comfortably aboard the six-year-old Highstakesplayer in the six-runner race and once he asked his mount to quicken up at the third last fence the race was as good as over as they stretched clear.

The winner recorded a smooth six and a half length win over 9/4 joint favourite Midnight Jewel with another three and three-quarter lengths back to the other joint favourite Mackelduff. This gave Much Marcle based Lacey his 13th win of the campaign and a win for the owner partnership of Jerry Hinds and Ashley Head.  

Trainer Fergal O’Brien, part of the O’Brien-McPherson training partnership, has his eyes firmly set breaking last season’s record-breaking tally of winners after landing a double at the Holmer track.

His Marble Sands cruised to a very impressive 22 length victory in the two-mile three-furlong maiden hurdle, before Kingston Sunflower landed the two novice hurdle.

Marble Sands was making his seasonal debut but the ease of his win surprised his trainer, despite the runner being sent off the 4-5 favourite.

O’Brien said: "I thought Nicky Henderson’s horse [King Alexander] looked nice and Paul Nicholls’ Fame And Fun did too. The race was a lot deeper and, although I thought Marble Sands would be favourite, he was a lot shorter than I expected.

"He’ll probably go to Newcastle for the French Furze hurdle, where he finished third last year, but he’s a lovely second-season novice to go hurdling with.”

The Naunton based trainer ended the 2021/22 campaign with 128 winners, but he already has seventy-five victories to date and he commented further.

O’Brien added: "129 is the target, so hopefully we can get to that. We just want a bit of consistency, but I’m delighted with the way we’re going at the moment."

The in-form Princess T secured a sixth victory of the season when getting the better of fellow joint-favourite Sashenka in the two-mile mares' handicap hurdle by four lengths in the hands of jockey Thomas Doggrell.

Trained by Neil Mulholland, the seven-year-old hurdler has turned out 10 times since the beginning of the season; whilst four of her six victories have come at the Channel Islands Les Landes racetrack in Jersey.