David Bass proved he is a safe pair of hands at Fontwell yesterday.
The promising young jockey caught 92-year-old owner Frank Caudwell when he collapsed with nerves prior to the chancelloroftheformchecker.co.uk National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle.
And then, with Caudwell recovering in the track’s first-aid room, Bass jumped aboard his horse – Brough Academy – to steer him to success.
Fortunately, the owner was well enough to greet the 15/8 favourite and unflappable rider on his return to the winners’ enclosure.
‘I was very worried about him (Caudwell),’ said winning trainer Lawney Hill.
‘He just suddenly collapsed towards me, wobbled and began to fall backwards.
‘David (Bass) caught him, otherwise I would have fallen on top of him in the paddock.
‘The doctors were brilliant, though.
‘They came up straight away and took him to the first-aid room where he watched the race.’
In the recovery room, Caudwell saw Bass produce a finely-timed ride on his mount to defeat Ballyifen by two lengths.
The veteran owner has been involved in racing for more than 40 years and once finished fourth in the owners’ championship.
He owned Grey Sombrero, who won the Whitbread Gold Cup in 1972 but was killed in the Grand National the following year – the same clash that saw Red Rum collar Crisp in the dying strides to kick off his Aintree treble.
And Aston Rowant trainer Hill reckons she is blessed to have such a patient owner in her corner.
‘He may be 92 but he is sharp as a razor,’ she said.
‘This horse ran back in October but since then we have had all sorts of niggling injury problems.
‘Frank has been fantastic, though. He hasn’t put any pressure on me to run him or anything.
‘They are just such a lovely family.’
Master D’Or took the second race – the Richard Johnson Fontwell’s Champion Jockey 2011 Handicap Chase – at 12/1.
Winning jockey Paul Moloney then completed a double with 10/1-shot Orvita in the Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle.
Talented Nagpur was a bloodless winner of the J Hurdle eBook Written By The Chancellor Handicap Hurdle, cruising to a 4/1 success under Sam Thomas.
Favourite Goring Two was an equally-impressive winner of the Chancellor Raceday Trophies Provided By trophystore.co.uk Handicap Chase at 4/6.
And finally – in torrential rain – the bumper was taken by German raider Il Presidente at 11/4.
Connections had not travelled to Fontwell for the clash.
But they plan to race the five-year-old in the UK again in the next few weeks.