Jockey Stan Sheppard rides out claim after Kestrel Valley – trained by his father Matt – swoops at Lingfield

Stan Shepperd, right, in action.
Stan Shepperd, right, in action.
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Stan Sheppard enjoyed a day to remember as he teamed up with his dad and trainer Matt to ride out his claim aboard Kestrel Valley at Lingfield.

The 22-year-old reached the milestone moment with one of the easiest victories of his career, in division two of the Sky Sports Racing On Virgin 535 Handicap Hurdle on Monday.

Jockey Stan Sheppard (left) with weighing room colleague Richard Patrick.

Jockey Stan Sheppard (left) with weighing room colleague Richard Patrick.

Making light work of the testing conditions, 12-1 shot Kestrel Valley coasted home 27 lengths clear of recent Ayr scorer Epsom Des Mottes to gain her first success.

Sheppard said: “That’s the 75th winner – and it is good to do it on one of dad’s – so I’m delighted.

“I was very slow-burner to start with, then in my first season as a conditional I had a very good year.

“Then I was claiming three, but things slowed up a bit.

“I’m getting plenty of rides at the moment between dad, Tom Lacey and Rob Walford. Dad has given me 40 winners – so I wouldn’t be here without him.”

Sheppard, who has also spent a spell riding as a conditional for Paul Nicholls, has high hopes for the future.

He added: “The aim is to just try and stay consistent, because that has been my biggest weakness. I might ride one well, then I probably wouldn’t ride the same for a week.

“I want to keep a level of consistency going – but it seems to be all right at the moment.”

Izzie Marshall also celebrated a landmark career winner on the card – her first under Rules, by four lengths on Lawney Hill’s Shimba Hills (11-1) in the Sky Sports Racing On Sky 415 Amateur Riders’ Handicap Hurdle.

The 20-year-old said: “I’ve had a bit of success point-to-pointing – I’ve had 34 winners – but that is my first under Rules.

“It is great to do it for Lawney Hill. I go out with her son Joe – and it is brilliant for the yard, because they are a very hard-working team with a small number of horses.”

Page Fuller secured a fifth triumph aboard the Zoe Davison-trained Finnegan’s Garden – a four-and-a-quarter-length success in the Brian Sewell Will Never Retire Handicap Chase.

Davison said of the 4-1 shot: “He loves it round here. He is really a two-and-a-half miler, but in testing conditions this was just perfect. There is a similar race back here at the next meeting we will come for.

“He and Page have built up a good relationship. Although he has won with other people, they’ve just really struck a chord.”

Black Gerry was no match for subsequent Grade One winner Fiddlerontheroof last time out at Sandown – but he had little problem brushing aside odds-on favourite Young Lieutenant by four and a half lengths in the Visit attheraces.com Novices’ Hurdle.

Trainer Gary Moore said of the 3-1 shot: “That was good. He ran a nice race in a good race (first time out).

“He obviously got tired – but that run has brought him on, and it was a bit of a weaker race today.

“I think he is very nice potentially, but he is a chaser in the making. He will have a season over hurdles – and whether he goes chasing next season, we will decide later on.”

Unbeaten mare Marie’s Rock is among the entries for Haydock’s Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle – but the forecast heavy ground may put her participation in doubt.

The Middleham Park Racing-owned Marie’s Rock has been very impressive in two runs over hurdles, and is prominent in the betting for the mares’ novices’ hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

While connections of the Nicky Henderson-trained five-year-old would like to get another run into her, they would not be perturbed either to head straight to the big meeting in March.

“She’s won on soft twice, once over course and distance, but her options are limited now,” said Tom Palin, of Middleham Park.

“Myself and Mr Henderson have looked through the book, and there isn’t really a perfect race – a two-mile, Grade Two or Three mares’ only novices’ hurdle – between now and the Festival.

“We’ve always been quite flexible. We’ve been to Ffos Las, Haydock and Taunton – the syndicate have been brilliant, allowing us to get on with it, and I don’t think this will be any different.

“It’s heavy ground already, there’s a lot of rain forecast, and she’s got speed – it’s probably her most potent asset.

“She’s been on soft twice and handled it, but ‘Haydock heavy’ is a different kettle of fish.”

Defi Du Seuil and Un De Sceaux are on course to clash again in Saturday’s Matchbook Clarence House Chase at Ascot.

The pair were involved in a thrilling finish to the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown last month, with only a neck between them at the line.

Defi Du Seuil is unbeaten in two races this season over two miles, having won over two and a half miles at last season’s Cheltenham Festival.

Un De Sceaux is now in the veteran stage of his career, but Willie Mullins’ charge would be bidding for a fourth win in this race.

Altior was not among the five confirmations, with Nicky Henderson announcing on Monday that the dual champion chaser will instead wait for the Game Spirit at Newbury next month.

Henderson is likely to be represented instead by Janika, who was fourth in the Tingle Creek and subsequently filled the same position in the Relkeel Hurdle.

Paul Nicholls could run Capeland, who could only finish fourth to Bun Doran when sent off favourite at Kempton over Christmas.

Dan Skelton’s Marracudja got back to winning ways last time out in the Castleford Chase, but looks up against it in this class.

There were only eight original entries for the Grade One, with Magic Saint and Waiting Patiently ruled out before Monday’s confirmation stage.