FORMER Grand National-winning jockey Ryan Mania’s comeback continues to gather pace thanks to an unlikely winner who overcame a lost cause – and in-running odds of 950-1 – to prevail.
The unlikely victory of outsider Off The Beat’s success at Newcastle was the jockey’s seventh triumph since a surprising return to race-riding late last year after a near five-year absence from the saddle.
It leaves the horseman, who partnered Yorkshire racing legends Sue and Harvey Smith’s 66-1 outsider Auroras Encore to Grand National glory in 2013, just one success short of his 200th victory.
This was the original target that Mania set himself when he announced in The Yorkshire Post in October that he had taken out his riding licence again.
Riding for his stepfather-in-law Sandy Thomson, Off the Beat, a 25-1 outsider, looked like he would finish fourth in a novices’ hurdle at Newcastle.
However, as the front three made began to make mistakes and begin to tire, Mania conjured a winning run out of the outsider to secure an unlikely win.
“That was unexpected and turning for home I thought I’d be fourth as he was plugging on, but the horses in front stopped,” said Mania.
The horse was actually purchased off the internet by Thomson who is based in the Scottish Borders. He said: “He looked a nice horse and is a son of Black Sam Bellamy. It’s worked out well. I bought him off the internet for £1,500 from the Jumping For Fun website.”
With Mania also placed at Newcastle on the Thomson-trained Capard King and Stradivarius Davis, the jockey – backed by his agent Bruce Jeffrey – now has seven wins from 52 rides as he looks for his 200th success.
Kerry Lee’s Happy Diva will head for the Lady Protectress Mares’ Chase at Huntingdon on January 24 after suffering the narrowest of defeats at Doncaster.
The nine-year-old looked poised to deny Lady Buttons a second consecutive win in the Yorkshire Silver Vase Mares’ Chase when leading over the last fence, but a late surge from Phil Kirby’s charge saw her defeated by just a head.
The mare finished second in Listed company on her seasonal debut before triumphing in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November under rider Richard Patrick.
“We’re very proud of her, she ran a brilliant race at Doncaster in what was probably the mares’ race of the season,” enthused Lee.