JOCKEY Ben Curtis reached the magnificent milestone of 1,000 British winners at Redcar today when Merrijig won the last race thanks to his tactical awareness.

The Irish rider led after a furlong on the gelding, trained at Newmarket by John Berry, and had enough left to repel the challenge of Desert Quest in the Watch Replays On Handicap.

Curtis said: “I didn’t even know it was the 1,000th, but every milestone takes a lot to achieve, so I’m delighted. I’ve had lots of help along the way and I’m grateful to all the trainers who’ve supported me.”

Berry paid tribute to Curtis, saying: “That win was all down to Ben. I was saying the horse needed holding up, but it was him who said to let him stride on, and he was right. He got the tactics spot on and gave the horse a brilliant ride. Congratulations to him on his 1,000th GB winner.”

The milestone came on the day Redcar honoured one of the most successful jockeys in the course’s history by naming the second race The Celebrating The Life of Edward Hide Restricted Novice Stakes. The five-furlong contest was won in fine style by another Newmarket raider, Towsend Manor, trained by Kevin Philippart de Foy, and ridden by another stalwart of the northern circuit, David Allan.

Allan said: “It was very straightforward, and the race was over in a matter of strides. Getting onto the far rail helps because it’s a bit quicker there.”

County Durham trainer Michael Dods’ tough filly Emeralds Pride scored a hat-trick when holding on by a nose under Connor Beasley from favourite Pepsi Cat in the Racing TV Club Day Handicap.

Owner Trevor Scothern was among many at the track who were convinced Pepsi Cat had got up, but the verdict went to Emeralds Pride by the narrowest of margins.

Mr Scothern, who owns Electrical Discount UK, said: “I honestly thought she’d been caught on the line, but she’s a real battler.”

Dods was denied a big-priced double when Secret Guest, trained at Hambleton by Bryan Smart and ridden by Graham Lee, held off 28-1 outsider Sparkling Red by a diminishing neck in the Racing TV Returned To Racing Handicap.

The winning trainer said: “We’re delighted with him. He’s been a bit disappointing, but things have gone against him, missing the break a couple of times.

“Graham gave him a peach of a ride. He said before the race he was going to ride him with soft hands and let the race unfold, and that’s what he did. He saved a bit for the finish, and we might try seven furlongs now.

“I’m really pleased for the owners – The Unscrupulous Judges syndicate. They’re just a really nice bunch of people.”

On the day Redcar honoured the achievements of a legendary jockey of the past, rising star Billy Loughnane made the journey north worthwhile by landing the Market Cross Jewellers Handicap on Forceful Speed in the colours of Amo Racing for Newmarket trainer George Boughey.

The chestnut son of New Bay was following up a win at Pontefract 86 days ago, and the young jockey, who is widely tipped as a future champion, said: “It was very straightforward. I thought I was going to win further than I did but the race went very smoothly. He’s been working well at home and hasn’t had a hard race.”

The meeting began with a sixth career win for 7lbs claimer Archie Young as he steered Poet's Dawn to an all-the-way win for Malton trainer Tim Easterby in the Selwyn Hedgeley Apprentice Handicap.

Young, who is attached to the Charlie Johnston stable, started his career on the pony racing circuit. He told Racing TV: “We were always in the front rank, and he got into a nice rhythm.”

The son of Poet’s Voice is owned by North Yorkshire farmer, Timothy O'Gram, and was giving him a ninth win since he bought the eight-year-old gelding as a two-year-old.

Mr O’Gram said: “I knew he had a win in him this season and he’s been knocking on the door. I was hopeful he could do it today and I’m delighted.”

The remaining Every Race Live On Racing TV Novice Stakes was another to go to Newmarket with Fletcher’s Flight, trained by Philip McBride, making all and staying on well under Adam Farragher.

The trainer said: “We paid £30,000 for him at the Newmarket sales last year, which is a lot for us, and we’ve had to be patient. He’s a big unit and he’ll go on from here.”