Buck leaves backers happy at Sedgefield
Buck Mulligan justified strong market support to take the feature race at Sedgefield under Paul Moloney.
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The seven-year-old had not been disgraced in better company at Market Rasen and Cheltenham on his last two starts, but had been dropped 5lb by the handicapper for those two runs.
Punters took the hint as they sent the Evan Williams runner off the 11/4 favourite and he came good with a gritty effort.
He had to dig deep to see off the strong challenge of No Planning by a neck, with Rich Lord breathing down their necks in third.
"To be fair, the handicapper has helped us. This horse has been running very well in some races where we weren't getting much leeway," said Williams.
"He dropped him 5lb and that made the difference today.
"The horse deserved it because he is consistent and he is good in his grade.
"I thought he could win a higher-class race, but he needed to get his head in front because he might have started to get a bit demoralised, so credit to the handicapper."
Ryan Mania, second on No Planning, still had a good day at the County Durham track with a 545/1 double courtesy of Grate Fella and Strobe.
He struck first on Grate Fella (25/1), who overturned evens favourite Blackwater King in the British Stallion Studs Supporting British Racing EBF "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle.
Sue Smith's four-year-old got the better of a prolonged duel to score by a length and a half.
Strobe (20/1) was always up with the pace as Mania enjoyed a 17-length romp on Lucy Normile's eight-year-old over On Gossamer Wings in the Collins Seafoods Ltd Handicap Chase.
Keen Sedgefield supporter John Wade, local businessman and owner/trainer, enjoyed a birthday winner when his colours were carried to victory by the Chris Grant-trained Alpha One in the Freebetting.co.uk Handicap Chase.
Brian Hughes got a good tune out of the 9/4 joint-favourite to score by seven lengths from Jurisdiction.
"He's run well there before but it's the first time he's won there," said Grant. "I haven't looked any further than today. We'll just see how he comes out of it and look again.
"Now he's won at Sedgefield I wouldn't mind going there again if there's a race to suit."