By Nick Seddon

Apprentice jockey Laura Pearson is hopeful of a productive summer in the saddle, as she edged closer to riding out her claim when striking with a well-timed ride on the Chris Kellett-trained Darbucks (11-2) in division two of the Wreay Handicap (7f) at Carlisle’s first Flat fixture of 2022 yesterday.

The 21-year-old picked up career winner number 72 in the process, leaving her just 23 short of losing her claim entirely. And Pearson revealed that she is hoping to put it to good use in some valuable races this summer.

She said: “I think he’s been crying out for that extra furlong as he’s just been caught for toe a little bit on the All-Weather and he finished really well.

"I’m nearly there with my claim now and I’ve got my good contacts ready for the summer, so I’m fairly confident of some nice rides. I just want to make sure I get the ball rolling for when I lose my claim!”

Another jockey to hit a landmark was Billy Garritty, who rode his 100th winner when shooting home late on the Keith Dalgleish-trained Ventura Flame (10-1) in the Blackwell Handicap (5f).

Garritty is one of the very few riders in the weighing room to ply his trade on both the Flat and over the Jumps and he explained that the reason behind his flexibility was a desire to ride winners.

Garritty said: “I’m lucky to ride good horses so I’ll just keep ticking away. I’m not that good myself but these horses are good! I like riding good horses, so anything that’s got a chance I’ll go ride.

“She was a little bit off the bridle early on but I thought they were going a good gallop so I knew they were going to come back and at the furlong pole she beat them all off – so job done.”

It proved to be a fine day for Penrith trainer Dianne Sayer, who trained an 11-1 double on the card courtesy of The Navigator (7-4 Favourite) and Detective (7-2). The latter is something of a course regular at Carlisle, winning three times from eight starts here last season.

And while Sayer was at Doncaster Sales, her father and winning owner Arthur Slack was in a jubilant mood when picking up the prize for winning the Thursby Handicap (1m) with Detective – having survived a stewards’ enquiry in the process.

Slack commented: “The horse loves Carlisle and I love Carlisle, so that’s why I always run here! Last year he ran eight times here and was never out of the first two he loves it and I do too! Diane said she was going to take him to Hamilton just to give him a run before Carlisle and he went and won, so it’s fantastic.

“He’s come here and won again, so he’s a grand horse. He’s a Kingman just like Baeed so I don’t know how I managed to buy him for just £6,000 – it’s a miracle.”

Meanwhile, Manaslu (5-4) looked a nice prospect when getting off the mark at the third time of asking in the Durdar Maiden Stakes (7f). The son of Starspangledbanner had his 11 rivals struggling from a long way out under Kevin Stott and assistant trainer Adam Ryan feels he’s one to keep on side this summer.

Ryan said: “He is a work in progress but I told Kevin to just keep it nice and simple as he was the best horse in the race. He probably got a bit lonely late on in the race but he’s only going to keep improving for his racing and Kevin gave him a great ride, so hopefully he can keep progressing this summer. A stiff seven heading up to a mile would be no issue for him so he’s a nice type.”

A staple of midweek race days at Jockey Club racecourses during the summer are qualifiers for the Jockey Club Grassroots Flat Series, which offer horses who tend to do their racing at a notch or two below Group or Listed level a shot at some lucrative prizes.

Victory in a qualifier opens the door to one of four finals worth a combined £70,000 at Nottingham ion 28th September and booking his place on this occasion was the Tim Easterby-trained Nearly A Gonna (20-1), who was an all the way winner of the sprint qualifier on the card (6f).

Winning jockey Phil Dennis commented: “He jumped a bit awkwardly and was just rocking on his back end a bit, which meant we weren’t the sharpest out of the box, but he got to the front and pricked his ears after that. He was going through the ground well and he’s picked up well for me at two out.”