Ladbrokes Trophy report: De Rasher Counter wins for Emma Lavelle and Ben Jones

Ben Jones celebrates on De Rasher Counter
Ben Jones celebrates on De Rasher Counter

Rising star of the weighing room Ben Jones can expect more calls for his services on the big occasion, if his victory aboard 12/1 shot De Rasher Counter in the Ladbrokes Trophy is anything to go by.

The 20-year-old showed why trainer Emma Lavelle was keen to secure him for her seven-year-old after learning of the likely unavailability of Adam Wedge, as the pair captured one of jump racing's biggest prizes outside of the Cheltenham Festival.

For all the post-race celebrations Jones will enjoy after the biggest success of his fledgling career, equally as memorable will be the conversation that led to him receiving the ride.

Jones said: "The other week I was on the way to Hereford and Mrs Lavelle rang me up and said Adam might be at Newcastle.

"I spoke to him that day and I said, 'you better go to Newcastle now', so luckily he went there and everything paid off well. I went and schooled him and things happen for a reason, I believe. Hopefully I will have a few more big days ahead of me.

"Trust is a massive thing in this game. To be fair to Emma and the team, they have put everything to me."

Connections of De Rasher Counter celebrate
Connections of De Rasher Counter celebrate

Despite being the most inexperienced jockey in the historic handicap formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup, Jones underlined his potential in riding like a seasoned professional in a race that went to plan from the moment the tapes rose.

Jones said: "He had a nice little chance and all I had to do was stay on him and hopefully he wouldn't be that far away. The most important thing is having a good start and getting into a nice rhythm. That was the first thing he did and as soon as he jumped the second, I was happy where he was and he just switched off and kept galloping.

"Jumping two out I thought if something was to come to me now it would have to be a good horse. It (heart) was thumping as I went past the line. It is definitely a day to remember."

Though this win is his most significant yet, Jones has already enjoyed a moment centre stage, after tasting Listed glory at Ascot aboard Gumball for his boss Philip Hobbs last month.

They are victories he never believed he would be capable of so early in his career.

Jones said: "I had a treble at Hereford and that was a massive day. They all weren't due to win, but it was a nice surprise. Mr Hobbs put me on Gumball at Ascot and he went and won. There have been a few good weekends and I've had a couple of Saturday winners.

"If you had said I'd have done what I've done now at the start of the season, I wouldn't have believed you. I'm very grateful to everyone. I take each day as it comes."

De Rasher Counter jumps to victory at Newbury
De Rasher Counter jumps to victory at Newbury

For all Jones is thankful to the support he has received from the likes of Hobbs and Lavelle, there is no one prouder than his biggest supporter and critic - his father Dai Jones, who is clerk of the course at Ffos Las.

Jones added: "I think he was more emotional than me. He nearly pulled me off the horse. He is very happy. He was the first one to come up and say well done - and what I've done wrong.

"I'm sure he will pick something wrong with the ride, but you have got to learn some way. He picks up on something every time."

Not only was this a special day for Jones, it was also another memorable moment for those riders flying the flag for Welsh racing this season - something of which he is proud of.

Jones said: "We had our Welsh racing awards the other night and when you look back at the last season we held our own pretty well.

"When we go to the big meetings and stuff we are not really classed as outsiders, as we are one of them now."

De Rasher Counter at 33/1 was the Antepost Angle selection from our Matt Brocklebank, who also tipped last year's winner Sizing Tennessee at the same price. For his latest preview of next week's Becher Chase at Aintree click here.

Ballydine looks a big price at 33/1
Ballydine looks a big price at 33/1

Lavelle said: "It's just unbelievable. I'm so proud of what Ben has done on him and so proud of the team. There were a few sore heads after (Paisley Park winning) yesterday. I can't imagine what it will be like after today.

"I'm so proud of everybody, I really am, that we have been able to get these horses right for the big day this weekend. It's close to home and is so special for everybody.

"We are lucky we have got amazing owners. We have patient owners that let the horses develop. We could have taken this horse to Cheltenham last season, but mentally we didn't think he was ready for it and the owners were prepared to wait with this being the target. It is just magical when it comes off, as so often it doesn't. I can't believe it."

Reflecting on the ride of Jones, the Andover trainer said: "It is that innocence of youth, although that is probably the wrong word, but when you are young and you don't know what can go wrong at this stage of your life, you are just riding at the top of your game - that is what he was doing.

"Barry (husband and assistant trainer) said he was riding on instinct. I really can't believe it - how has this just happened?"

Asked about future plans for the winner, who is part-owned by Paisley Park's owner Andrew Gemmell, who has been blind since birth, Lavelle said: "We will see how he is after today and see what the handicapper does to him, then make a plan.

"It (Grand National) is something we have spoken about, but he is only a second-season chaser. It would be too soon, but come back to me with some other ideas and we will see what we do."


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