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Ex-champion jockey has good vibes about Newbury

Former champion jockey Richard Johnson set up the Richard Johnson Racing Syndicate last year consisting of two horses, Imperial Saint and Party Vibes.

After a stellar start to her season with form of 2211, Party Vibes steps into graded company for the first time on Saturday in the Grade 2 British EBF BetVictor "National Hunt" Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Newbury Racecourse.

Seventeen have been declared for the 2m4½f contest, the feature race of Newbury’s BetVictor Jumps Season Finale, the third of 11 Premier fixtures to take place at the Berkshire track.

Trained by Henry Daly and declared to be ridden by conditional jockey Alice Stevens on Saturday, the Irish point-to-point graduate by Mahler, Party Vibes, has won her last two starts.

Despite stepping up in trip and grade for the first time, Johnson is hopeful the dream start to his new syndicate venture continues this weekend: “After her first couple of runs, we thought this mares’ final would be a good race to aim her at.

“She’s coming here in good form, it’s her first time over the trip but having been narrowly beaten in a three-mile Irish point-to-point, you would think the trip should suit and the ground shouldn’t be a problem.

“We just hope everything will suit her; time will tell. It is a competitive race being the final of the EBF series, it is not going to be an easy race, but we hope she goes there with as good a chance as any.

“For our syndicate to go to a Grade 1 track on a Saturday in a nice race is great and hopefully she can do herself justice and run well.

“We only have two syndicate horses and to have both running at Newbury this weekend is fantastic.”

Party Vibes is currently joint favourite with sponsors BetVictor at odds of 9/2 with the Lucinda Russell trained El Elefante.

Set to be partnered by Derek Fox, she is another mare with proven form on soft ground with official ground conditions at Newbury currently good to soft, soft in places.

She was last seen when winning the EBF Mares' National Hunt Novice Hurdle Qualifier at Ayr, finishing two and a quarter lengths ahead of Kay Tara Tara who also lines up in Saturday’s contest for Alan King and jockey Tom Cannon.

Father and son duo, Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies team up with the James & Jean Potter Ltd owned Smiling Getaway.

Having won her first two starts upon moving to the Twiston-Davies yard in December 2023, she was last seen finishing 12 lengths third in the Grade 2 Jane Seymour Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown in soft conditions.

After finishing down the field in a 2m½f Listed Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Taunton, the Paul Nicholls trained Larchmont Lass stepped up in trip on her last run to land her first victory over hurdles.

She will be ridden by Champion jockey title chaser Harry Cobden who is also on track to be leading National Hunt jockey at Newbury this season.

Ooh Betty, currently 10/1 in the betting, is bidding to give trainer Ben Clarke his first winner at Grade 2 level.

Beaten by Party Vibes on her last start, she was a very close runner up to Aston Martini who went on to finish fourth in the Grade 2 Jane Seymour Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

Saturday’s card also features the valuable National Hunt Flat contest, the £100,000 Goffs UK Spring Sale Bumper.

The 2m½f contest is open to horses who were sold under the hammer at the Goffs UK Doncaster Spring Sales of May 2022 and 2023.

Won last year by Crest of Glory for trainer Anthony Honeyball and syndicate Crest Racing, the winning combination are bidding for back-to-back victories with Crest of Fortune.

The £45,000 Goffs graduate by Doyen won his sole start in heavy ground at Wincanton back in December under Jonathan Burke who will partner him again on Saturday.

From the same family as Denman, Regent’s Stroll cost connections £175,000 from the 2022 Goffs UK Spring Sale.

The son of Walk In The Park landed a comfortable victory in his sole start when sent off 7/4 favourite at Ascot back in November.

Thirteen of the 21 declared will be having their first career start on Saturday.

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