'˜Lucky' Henry Brooke is celebrating three in a row at Wetherby

HENRY BROOKE said it was all down to '˜luck' after becoming the first jockey to win three successive renewals of Wetherby's historic Rowland Meyrick Chase.

Henry Brooke and Lake View Lad won the Rehearsal Chase earlier this month.

Yet it also takes judgment – the Middleham jockey nominated this race for Lake View Lad immediately after the Grand National-bound grey won Newcastle’s Rehearsal Chase earlier this month.

And confidence played its part, too. Even though trainer Nick Alexander, from Scotland, nearly withdrew the Trevor Hemmings-owned chaser because the ground was not as soft as forecast, Brooke put conditions to the back of his mind.

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His triumph follows the successes of Definitly Red in 2016 and Get On The Jager 12 months ago, and surpasses the feat of Tommy Stack of Red Rum fame who recorded back-to-back wins in 1972 and ‘73.

Henry Brooke and Nick Alexander after Lake View Lad's Rowland Meyrick Chase win.

Brooke immediately dedicated his success to eight-year-old Luke Bell, from Darlington, who died from neuroblastoma on Sunday – he was one of many jockeys who supported the youngster and his family. They also wore a black armband as a mark of respect.

The Rowland Meyrick, first staged in 1957 in honour of Wetherby’s former steward, began with Rehearsal Chase runner-up Captain Chaos setting a sharp pace from Sue Smith’s Wakanda with Lake View Lad back in third.

However, as Captain Chaos pressed on, Brooke played a waiting game before taking up the running two out to a deafening roar from the crowd.

He took the last in fine style and won by four lengths from Captain Chaos, with Takingrisks just beating the aforementioned Wakanda in the race for third.

The Grand National will now be the target for Lake View Lad who was purchased by Hemmings, a three-time National winner, last summer. “Brilliant. A lovely horse,” an elated Brooke told The Yorkshire Post after his 25th win of the season. “Hopefully, with a fair wind, you will see him at Aintree over the big fences. He’s done it in spite of the ground.”

Asked to explain his record in the race, he said modestly: “Luck. Just being on the best horse in the race.”

A thrilled Alexander was more effusive. “He’s a great jockey and deserves all the success,” said the former stockbroker. “If it was down me, I think I would have taken him out of the race because it wasn’t soft enough. Mr Hemmings is keen to go for the National and I haven’t had a runner in the race. If we get him there (Aintree) in this kind of fettle, he could go well.”

The day began with Mega Yeats making a winning debut over hurdles for Malton trainer Ruth Jefferson and jockey Jamie Hamilton. “A nice introduction,” said the rider.

Meanwhile, North Yorkshire trainer Phil Kirby, who had two winners at Sedgefield, completed an across-the-card treble, when Suggestion took the finale under Adam Nicol.

Kirby and Nicol are due to team up with Lady Buttons in the Castleford Chase, the day two highlight of Wetherby’s Christmas meeting, though the mare does also hold an entry at Doncaster this Saturday.