Hanssen rides her first winner


Swedish apprentice Mette Hanssen rode her first winner in eventful circumstances at foggy Southwell yesterday.

The diminutive teenager brought Mary Jane with a smooth run to lead in division two of the Copenhagen Claiming Stakes but mistook markers for the one and a half mile start for the winning post and was patting Jack Berry's filly down the neck well before the line.

Fortunately Mary Jane still had one and a quarter lengths over Polar Mist at the line. And Hanssen is not the first to make the same error as Antonio Polli did exactly the same thing last week.

Berry's son and assistant Alan said of 17-year-old Hanssen: "She has been with us for over a year and rides well but it is quite hard for her with other good apprentices in the yard.

"She mistook those big orange posts for the winning line but it didn't matter in the end."

Mark Johnston cemented a good year when Love Academy took him to the 100-winner mark for the season for the fifth successive time with victory in the 49's Handicap.

Well ridden by Robbie Fitzpatrick, Love Academy stuck on well to hold off Weetman's Weigh by half a length.

Dean McKeown and Jimmy Leigh also had good reasons to celebrate Southwell overcoming the fog. Johnnie The Joker emerged from the gloom to give Gainsborough trainer Leigh a very belated first winner of the season - and in doing so provided jockey McKeown with his 50th victory of 1999.