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ROKSANA wins EBF/ TBA Mares’ Novice Hurdle Finale 2018

Mon 26 Mar 2018

3.15pm £40,000 G2 EBF & TBA Mares’ National Hunt Limited Handicap Novices’ Hurdle Finale 2m 4.5f

ROKSANA wins the EBF/ TBA Mares' Novice Hurdle Finale 2018 (ImageFrancesca Altoft)

ROKSANA wins the EBF/ TBA Mares’ Novice Hurdle Finale 2018 (ImageFrancesca Altoft)

The 16-runner Finale was fiercely competitive and there were plenty still in with a chance approaching entering the straight.

Top-weight Midnight Tune (Anthony Honeyball/Aidan Coleman, 11st 10lb, 11/1) led for a long while but started to drop out of contention after straightening up.

Kalahari Queen (Jamie Snowden/Gavin Sheehan, 11st 1lb, 12/1) led three out but made a mistake at the next where Roksana (Dan Skelton/Bridget Andrews (3), 11st 2lb, 9/1) went second before leading at the last and running on well to score by two and three quarter lengths.

Kalahari Queen held on to second by a half-length from the staying-on Jubilympics (Seamus Mullins/Daniel Sansom (5), 9st 13lb, 50/1), with consistent Just A Thought (Rebecca Curtis/Adam Wedge, 10st 11lb, 7/1) fourth.

Bridget Andrews, who gained her first Cheltenham Festival winner earlier this month, took over from her boyfriend Harry Skelton in the saddle after he failed to pass the doctor at Newbury today and claimed a valuable 3lb off Roksana’s original weight of 11st 5lb.

She reported: “Unfortunately, Harry did not pass the doctor and luckily the owners kindly let me ride her.

“Roksana is quite a decent mare I think. We really liked here and this race was always the aim. We campaigned her quite lowly with a couple of easy novice hurdles and she has come through them well.

“Actually, she travelled through the race a little too well – carting me around. I was thinking that we were going to fall in a hole because she had done way too much, but she was so tough and, after the last, there was no catching her.

“The ground was fairly testing, but she didn’t seem to mind. She is a proper, proper horse.

“She is going to stay further in time and she is big enough to jump a fence. She will be sent to stud at some point, but I think she can go a long way on the racecourse.

“Harry does not mind if I get on his horses, but I think he finds it hard when someone outside the yard rides them. He has taken it pretty well, but how he is going to continue to take it until he gets back we will have to see.

“It was an unbelievable day to win at Cheltenham – a day I will definitely never forget and I am so grateful for the whole team for believing in me and supporting me.”