Serious Operator provided Patrick Wadge with another valuable winner in his quest to be champion conditional jockey when seeing off Brewin’upastorm in the bet365 Handicap Hurdle at Kelso.

Trained by Lucinda Russell, Wadge’s main supplier of winners, the seven-year-old had finished fifth in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton last time out and was a well-backed 7-2 chance.

With Wadge, who still claims 3lb, full of confidence looking for a sixth winner in his last seven rides, he waited for the right time to kick for home and jumped the last with an advantage he held to the line, winning by a length and three-quarters.

“He’s improving, his jumping was perfect but we were a bit worried about the ground because he prefers it good to soft than soft,” said Russell.

“Halfway down the back I was thinking the ground was catching him out, but it wasn’t and he was entitled to go close based on his Lanzarote run.

“We’ll go chasing next year, he probably should have done it this year, but to be fair his hurdling is outstanding. He’ll go to Aintree now and he’ll stay around at two and a half miles, it suits him.”

On Wadge, she added: “I’m so proud of him and he’s riding with such confidence, it’s great.

“The title would be great, but it’s a fickle old world and there are two months still to go. He’s certainly riding at the top of his game.”

Geromino provided 10lb conditional jockey Charlie Maggs with a notable success in the £50,000 bet365 Handicap Hurdle at Doncaster.

Attached to Donald McCain’s yard in Cheshire, just like twin brother William, he was riding only the fourth winner of his career.

Geromino has been chasing of late and on his run behind subsequent Cheltenham winner Homme Public at Wetherby in October, he looked quite well handicapped off just 126 back over hurdles – especially when Maggs’ 10lb allowance was factored in.

However, there were some smart rivals amongst the opposition, chiefly top weight Tommy’s Oscar and Charlie Longsdon’s Rare Edition, who ran against the best novices last season.

Maggs judged things perfectly on the front end, though, and despite McCain fearing the loss of the hurdles in the straight due to low sun would work against the good jumper, it appeared to work in his favour.

First Impression, who cruised into contention, did not find as much as initially seemed likely and was beaten half a length, with a neck back to Rare Edition, who made late gains.

“Gary (Fitzpatrick, owner) is a great supporter and the old horse is just high enough in the handicap, and he’s a little horse for fences,” said McCain.

“I thought I’d give him a run over hurdles but when I went down to the last to watch the race with Gary and they started taking the hurdles out, I was moaning because he’s such a good jumper.

“But when you think about having a 10lb claim in a Flat race, it’s a lot and the horse is so genuine.

“Charlie judged it great. I’m very lucky, as I’ve got a great team of jockeys, led by Brian (Hughes), there’s Theo (Gilliard), Peter Kavanagh, William and Charlie and Abi (McCain), they’re a great bunch.

“Charlie and his brother have been coming every weekend since they were 12 and they’ve just turned 18. Charlie doesn’t have an agent yet because he’s not lost his 10lb. Will has had a few more winners because he’s lost his 10lb and Richard Hale looks after him. We’ll save his 10lb for nice races.”

Maggs said: “I’m delighted, he battled all the way to the line.

“He was happy in front, so I just let him bowl along and he was good. He’s a hardy horse and he kept going.

“That’s my fourth winner and it’s good to win a race like that.”

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