CYCLOP was a game winner of the £25,000 William Hill Highland National Handicap Chase under a peach of a ride from champion jockey Brian Hughes on the final day of the William Hill Perth Festival.

The 12-1 chance collared Mance Rayder on the run-in to land the 3m 6f marathon by a length for Herefordshire trainer Matt Sheppard.

Hughes said: “This horse is as tough as old boots as he’s had quite a long season. I rode him when he was fourth in the Eider Chase at Newcastle and I probably got there too soon.

“I hung onto him more today and I thought I had a chance from turning out of the back straight on the final circuit. He winged the last and I knew he’d get there after that. He’s super tough and just such a game horse.”

Morning Vicar was never headed on his way to an eight-length victory for Nico De Boinville and Nicky Henderson in the Balnakeilly Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

CYCLOP and Brian Hughes (2) win the Highland National at Perth 23/4/21 Photograph by Grossick Racing Photography 0771 046 1723

The winning jockey said: “He’s stays a bit further than two and a half miles but he does enjoy making the running in small fields. He ran in decent company at Aintree and Cheltenham so he does have plenty of ability.”

The £25,000 William Hill Listed Fair Maid Of Perth Mares’ Chase went to Henry Daly-trained Chilli Filly ridden by Richard Patrick.

“She’s a real star and will make a lovely broodmare when she retires to the paddocks,” Patrick said. “She’s already won a Listed Chase at Market Rasen and she stays this three miles pretty well.”

The William Hill Perth Festival saw a successful return to racing, behind closed doors, for Perth with the Scone track scheduled for its next action on Wednesday 12 May (evening) and Thursday 13 May (afternoon).

Perth Racecourse CEO Hazel Peplinski said: “It’s been a truly bittersweet three days with such fabulous support from both locals and long-distance trainers making for some superb racing this week. However, with all this glorious weather we were up against the conditions today a bit and we are still unable to share any of this superb weather or racing with any sort of crowd which is vexing. The enclosures would have been packed!

“We really do owe William Hill a huge vote of thanks for bringing their strong brand and professionalism to Perth as our new title sponsor – their enhanced association has given us a huge lift at the start of another campaign.

“With the William Hill Perth Festival safely under our belt we are ever-hopeful we will soon be able to safely welcome at least a small number of racegoers back to Perth, the coming weeks shall be busy sorting all that entails out and we shall make announcement as soon as the picture becomes clearer.”