'General' in command on 100th outing at Southwell
Veteran General Tufto flew home to claim a fairytale win on his 100th appearance at Southwell yesterday.
Trained by Charles Smith, the 11-year-old has had a total of 188 races in a career stretching back to September 2007.
The son of Fantastic Light lined up in the first division of the one-mile handicap having won 16 races, 14 of which have been at Southwell. He had been placed at the Newark circuit on a further 22 occasions.
His first success at the track was in February 2009, but it has been nearly two years since he last graced the winner's enclosure.
Sent off at 7/1 for his latest one-mile assignment, General Tufto made his traditional a slow start and jockey Joey Haynes, who had steered him to his last four victories at Southwell, was almost immediately hard at work.
However, the hardy all-weather performer responded to his rider's urgings and after battling his way to the front just inside the final furlong, he kicked away to score by two-and-a-half lengths.
Favourite Dancin Alpha just beat Capital Gearing to the runner-up spot.
"It's a bit of a fairytale really and brilliant for everyone involved," Haynes stated.
"He runs every race the same and today he's almost got there too soon. He's done it really nicely, bless him."
A visibly emotional Smith said: "He's just priceless to us. I thought he would win - he's in the form of his life.
"He ran well here last time and hopefully he'll come back on New Year's Day now. The grandchildren love him, he plays with them. He's an absolute superstar and a real pet."
Owner John Theaker received a cake on the winner's rostrum to commemorate the occasion.