GRAND National winning jockey Ryan Mania made a victorious return to his home track at Kelso on Monday.
The 23-year-old Aintree hero received a rousing cheer from the local crowd as he was led into the winner’s enclosure aboard You Know Yourself.
It was the Galashiels jockey’s first appearance at the Borders racecourse since his epic Grand National victory on Auroras Encore.
Mania produced a strong finish aboard Sue Smith’s 10-year-old to hold the challenge of Super Ally, in the hands of Hawick jockey Wilson Renwick, to clinch victory in the Happy 80th Birthday John Rust three-mile handicap chase.
“That was a nice win, and it’s good to get the new season off to a winning start,” said Mania.
Scottish National contender Captain Americo, from James Ewart’s Langholm stable, finished just a nose behind in third.
Mania had earlier suffered a close defeat in an exciting finish to the two-mile Racehorse Owners Association handicap chase, which saw Jedburgh trainer Harriet Graham saddle both the winner and the third.
Newcastle specialist Prince Tam, whose four wins over fences have all been recorded at the track, landed his first Kelso success with a game performance.
“Although he’s won all his races up to now at Newcastle, he has run well at other tracks including here,” said Harriet.
“He used to be a soft-ground specialist but as he´s got older he seems to go well on better going,” she added.
Mania always had runner-up Freddie Brown to the fore, but a blunder five out didn’t help his chances.
The gelding, who carries the colours of popular racecourse chairman Johnny Jeffreys, was making his 14th appearance at the course.
Harriet Graham’s other runner, Soul Magic, ran a good race to take third, and is likely to return to Cartmel shortly, where he has recorded all five of his successes to date. The in-form handler was deprived of a double half-an-hour later when Scotswell was beaten by a nose in a thrilling finish to the Peter and Gillian Allan Catering handicap hurdle race.