LOCAL trainer Michael Smith raised the roof at a rainy Newcastle on the first day of the Northumberland Plate meeting.
Smith, who trains just down the road at Kirkheaton in Northumberland, won the feature tradersbetting exchange.co.uk Seaton Delaval Handicap with the gutsy front-runner Vito Volterra.
The four-year-old, claimed out of Andy Haynes’ yard for just £6,000, has been in cracking form of late and finished second in the Carlisle Bell just 24 hours earlier.
After breaking well to claim his customary position at the head of affairs under Adrian Nicholls, the 13-2 chance fought off the challenges of Prince Of Dance and Arabian Spirit to win by a neck and three- quarters of a length.
Graham Gibbons picked up a one-day ban (July 7) for excessive use of the whip on the runner-up.
“He’s been busy,” said Smith of the winner.
“I gave him his supper at Carlisle and he ate up fine so I thought we may as well run him. He’s as hard as nails.
“When he gets his own way in front he’s very difficult to pass and he found extra today when they came at him, but I was getting a bit worried.
“If he’s in front a furlong out it takes a good one to get by him. This meeting is my Royal Ascot and the dream is to one day win the Plate.”
Another trainer to taste success close to home was Brian Ellison with his old favourite John Forbes.
Now a nine-year-old, he broke his maiden at Gosforth Park at the corresponding meeting seven years ago on the Saturday.
Sent off the 9-4 favourite, he swamped top-weight Rosewin to win by a length and a quarter.
“Seven years ago on Saturday he won here as a two-year-old,” said Ellison.
“He’s named after my dad and it’s amazing he turned out so good really.
“I don’t have many running in my colours now because I’m always trying to sell them, but I won’t sell him.”