Harkin completes double as Popaway races to 18th win

Paige Fuller and Velvet Steel on their way to winning division two of the Open Maiden race at Saturday's Oakley Hunt meeting. Photo: Philbrittphotos
Paige Fuller and Velvet Steel on their way to winning division two of the Open Maiden race at Saturday's Oakley Hunt meeting. Photo: Philbrittphotos

Edgcote trainer Pauline Harkin saddled a double at Saturday’s Oakley Hunt meeting at Brafield-on-the-Green.

Popaway posted her 18th win when repeating her victory of 12 months ago in the Fisher German Ladies’ Open to complete a double for Harkin, successful earlier with Velvet Steel.

I couldn’t believe it when she was hopping lame, but she loves it here

Edgcote handler Pauline Harkin

Immy Robinson, who survived a blunder at the second-last on the 13-year-old, before running out a two-and-a-half-length winner from Storm Lantern, said: “She got in a bit tight, but picked up very quickly. She is such a tiger and loves the game.”

Harkin revealed that Popaway had overcome a training scare in the week. “She had a foot abscess and we had to poultice it and poultice it. I couldn’t believe it when she was hopping lame, but she loves it here.”

Velvet Steel initiated the trainer’s double when taking the second division of the Landscope Land & Property Five-Year-Olds And Over Open Maiden by a length from Buster West under Page Fuller.

Harkin was especially pleased as the eight-year-old mare, whom she bought from Ireland for the Over The Page Partnership, which consists of John and Jen Daffurn and Nicki and Dave Russell, has had numerous problems.

She said: “The owners have been really good to stick with me. Two years ago she had a bit of an accident on her very first run at the Atherstone and it took time to get over that mentally and physically.”

David Maxwell’s enterprising move to hire a helicopter paid off with a winner on Big Bang De Loire at Brafield-on-the-Green before he flew to Ascot where he enjoyed further success aboard Marinero.

The owner-rider’s memorable day began by taking to the skies from his Charlbury home to land at the Northamptonshire course, and take the first division of the Landscope Land & Property Five-Year-Olds And Over Open Maiden on Big Bang De Loire.

Making all the running on the seven-year-old, from Kim Smyly’s Broadway stables, he forged clear to record a five-lengths verdict over Spring Cover.

Maxwell had bought the son of Califet from France three years ago only for him to suffer a tendon injury when finishing second at Hackwood Park in March, 2016.

Following a spell on the sidelines, Big Bang De Loire ran in two handicap chases at Plumpton and Southwell before Christmas.

Maxwell, who works as a property investor in London, said: “On his form in France he had a rating of about 125, but he is a big slow boat.

“It is not so far from home and I have managed to get the family out, so I have just got the helicopter hired to ride all three!”