SHE’S BACK. Top female jockey Sammy Jo Bell put nearly a year of injury hell behind her when partnering Cullingworth to a gutsy victory in the prestigious Celebration Mile at Musselburgh’s high-profile Easter meeting.
Bell’s first success since last May, the North Yorkshire rider is trying to rebuild her career after a freak fall left her wheelchair-bound with a badly broken pelvis after her mount Royal Duchess reared up at Carlisle and fell on the jockey.
It was a cruel blow for the likable 26-year-old, who came to prominence when beating top-class jockeys from around the world to win the Silver Saddle at Ascot’s Shergar Cup in the summer of 2015.
Attached to the in-form Malton yard of Richard Fahey, Bell was seen at her very best when Cullingworth hit the front inside the final furlong and battled tenaciously to repel the challenge of the pursuing Grey Britain.
Broadcast live on ITV4, the win – and accompanying publicity – can only help the jockey to get her career back on track after her travails.
“The first winner is probably the most important, really. I’ve not had many rides since I’ve come back,” she said.
“Sometimes you ride and then it’s a week until your next one, so you keep feeling like you’re starting again.
“You don’t ride with as much confidence as you would if you are banging in winners every day of the week.
“I was more fortunate than some in that I was at least able to get back on a horse again.
“Richard has been very good to me and I’m delighted that he’s given me a chance. It’s absolutely fantastic.
“This winner is quite special.”
Bell’s win capped a fine day north of the border for a strong Yorkshire raiding party, with Ryedale trainer Paul Midgley’s Desert Law winning the Borderlescott Sprint Trophy.
A race that celebrates Robin Bastiman’s now retired Borderlescott who won two Group One Nunthorpe Stakes, he came from the rear under Oisin Murphy and readily pulled three and a quarter lengths clear.
Ironically this was one of the horses that 21-year-old Murphy schooled when the former champion apprentice was beginning his career at Andrew Balding’s yard.
Midgley said: “I’m chuffed he (Desert Law) has won as he’d been galloping great at home.
“He just wasn’t right all year last year, really. The wife has been telling me how good he’s been at home and it’s great to get him back.
“Oisin was excellent on him. I didn’t want to go and burst him early as there was loads of speed in the race.”
Excellently Poised made a winning racecourse debut in the toteexacta EBF Stallions Conditions Stakes. Part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, Hambleton-based Bryan Smart’s juvenile impressed under Connor Beasley.
Earlier Twin Appeal claimed a second victory at Musselburgh in the toteplacepot Easter Saturday Handicap.
Thirsk trainer David Barron’s charge was always well placed under Phillip Makin and picked up well in the last of seven furlongs to score by a length and three-quarters from Lat Hawill.
Queen Kindly, winner of York’s Lowther Stakes at last year’s Ebor festival for Fahey, is likely to test her stamina in the Dubai Duty Free Fred Darling at Newbury on Saturday.
Fourth in Newmarket’s Cheveley Park Stakes on her final outing of 2016, she has questions to answer regarding her stamina this season.
However, a positive showing next weekend could put her in the frame for a run in the 1000 Guineas.
Owner Jaber Abdullah’s racing manager, Bruce Raymond, said: “She is in good shape. She will probably run in the Fred Darling, but she needs to prove she can step up to the trip.
“If she stays there she will run in the Guineas. She has done very well over the winter and has strengthened up well.”
Meanwhile top-class sprinter The Tin Man, named in honour of legendary jockey Fred Archer, is on course for next month’s Duke of York Stakes on the Knavesmire.
The five-year-old finished second in last year’s Haydock Sprint Cup before going on to Group One glory at Ascot on Champions Day.
“The Tin Man looks very well. He has just started to be stepped up in his work,” said his trainer James Fanshawe.