TRAINER Phil Rowley celebrated three winners at last Sunday's Albrighton & Woodland (North) fixture at Chaddesley Corbett.

The season still has a long way to run but the Bridgnorth handler and jockey Alex Edwards, who again rode his three winners, are setting a strong pace which their rivals are having difficulty matching.

The Worcestershire course was in excellent condition having avoided the heavy rain which had been predicted the previous day, but it still played to the strengths of certain horses, while racegoers had to contend with a bitterly cold wind.

The meeting started well for Rowley when Optimised justified favouritism in the two-and-a-half mile maiden.

Mistercobar held the lead as the field started out onto their second circuit, but Edwards always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. The two leaders had drawn five lengths clear as they turned to face the judge, but Mistercobar was struggling to maintain contact approaching the second from home.

Optimised soon opened up a race winning lead, increased his advantage between the final two fences and was good value for his 15-lengths success.

The six-year-old was purchased at Goffs in September 2017, with just two placed efforts from 11 runs for previous trainer Gordan Elliott and the Gigginstown team.

Rowley said afterwards “He is such a lovely mover and is well over 17 hands and being by Stowaway we thought he needed time”, while the jockey reported: “He will have no problem staying three miles and handled the ground well."

Having open his account over this course at Christmas, Battle Dust was surprisingly beaten on his next outing at Thorpe Lodge, but conditions seemed to be more favourable here and he bounced back with a hard-fought win over Distime in the men's open.

Mac’s Gift had also been beaten at Thorpe Lodge but was another to appreciate the testing conditions at Chaddeseley Corbett. Ballycahane was preferred in the betting but the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate was run at a sedate pace so all six runners held chances until the race for home began over the final half mile.

The two market rivals had the race to themselves in the home straight before the favourite made an error at the 17th, which left Mac’s Gift with a clear advantage, but approaching the last his stride began to shorten.

With the door left ajar, Milo Herbert and Ballycahane inched closer to their rival but Alex Edwards' experience enabled Macs Gift to claim a narrow victory over their fast finishing rival.

This success provided a double for owner Geoff Bowker who had won with Optimised earlier in the afternoon and a treble for Rowley and Edwards which cemented their places at the head of both the West Midland Area and National Trainers and Jockeys Championship.

Meanwhile, the ladies open was won by Ni Sin E Mo Ainm and Alexandra Bell.

Welsh-trained runners took the Dodson & Horrell sponsored novice riders and three-mile maiden with William Money and Charlie Breekie.