Amateur jockeys returned to the fray on Monday after more than two months on the sidelines and while it was an afternoon to remember for Peter Summers, who became the first amateur to ride a winner in Britain in 2021, there was less for punters to celebrate as Catchin Time, his partner in a handicap hurdle at Wincanton, was returned at 125-1.
Catchin Time was also a first winner for Laura Hurley, his trainer, since the same horse landed a race at Warwick in February 2017, and nobody was more surprised by Monday’s success than Summers, who was taking only his second ride under Rules. Catchin Time jumped into the lead at the second flight and was at the head of affairs from there before staying on in the straight to win by just over four lengths.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Summers said. “I was thinking, ‘something’s coming, this is too easy, I’ve been doing this for five or six years now and it’s never been this easy before’.
“I couldn’t stop looking over my shoulder, it was disbelief. I was thinking, something has to come now, but nothing came. It’s been a hard year with coronavirus and it feels absolutely amazing to have the first winner back for amateur racing.”
Catchin Time was the second winner on Monday afternoon at three-figure odds after Big ‘n Better, the 100-1 outsider of six, landed the opening race at Fontwell Park.
It was the first time that there had been two winners at 100-1 or above on the same day in Britain since 20 August 2010, when 100-1 chance Miss Franklin won at Bangor an hour-and-a-half before Sole Power and Wayne Lordan took the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at York at the same odds.
Catchin Time was the biggest-priced winner of 2021 to date, and the third so far this year at 100-1 or bigger. The veteran was also only the 17th winner at 125-1 or above in Britain in the last 15 years.
The earlier success of Big ‘N Better at Fontwell Park was more controversial as Drakes Well, the 8-15 favourite, dived away to his left as the tapes went up and eventually set off several lengths behind most of his rivals. Drakes Well soon made up the ground to sit a couple of lengths behind Big ‘N Better turning for home, but faded as the surprise winner stayed on to win.
At Stratford, meanwhile, a four-timer for Harry Skelton – his second in a little over a week – left him three adrift of reigning champion Brian Hughes in the race for the jump jockeys’ title, and the new favourite for the championship with Paddy Power.
Skelton is 4-5 (from 5-6) to win the title for the first time, while Hughes is out to 10-11 (also from 5-6). Harry Cobden, who had a treble at Wincanton but is still 11 winners behind Hughes, is a 16-1 chance.