WHEN Albert’s Back sauntered across the winning line on Saturday, it was as if he had never been away, writes Lucy Russell-Hughes.

His return to his beloved Wetherby racecourse was a winning one as the Mick Easterby-trained gelding recorded his third career win at the Yorkshire track.

It was an effortless performance, like poetry in motion.

He was guided to victory by champion jockey and man-of-the-moment Brian Hughes as the pair ran their rivals ragged in the Class Three Handicap Hurdle over two miles.

Aptly named Albert’s Back, he defied all the odds as he overcame his 259-day absence to win decisively.

It was the son of Champs Elysees’s third win under rules and his third at the course.

His trainer Easterby spoke on social media afterwards and said: “When Albert’s Back at Wetherby, he usually wins.”

Bar his handful of runs on the flat, Hughes has partnered the gelding on all his national hunt exploits as the pair have clearly prospered together.

Owned by Golden Ratio and J Blackburn, Albert’s Back is relatively lightly raced and still only six years of age.

He has finished out of the places on only one occasion out of his eight tries since switching codes.

Meanwhile this win edged Hughes slightly further ahead of the pursuing Harry Cobden in this year’s title race, for Albert’s Back was a second success on the day for the champion jockey.

Earlier on the card he won the Class Four Novices’ Chase aboard Malystic for Ryedale trainer Peter Niven.

Owned, bred and trained by Niven, the six-year-old gelding looked a smart prospect over obstacles last season, winning once over hurdles before placing on his next two attempts.

He made a convincing start to chasing when finishing second behind the Dan Skelton trained Protektorat at Carlisle last month.

Protektorat has since franked that good form after winning at the Cheltenham November meeting last week.

Related to Niven’s yard stalwart Clever Cookie – Malystic looks to have a bright future ahead of him over the obstacles as he continues to carry those silks into the winners enclosure for connections.

The British flat turf season drew to a close ten days ago and it was a Ryedale winner that took the finale.

The Richard Fahey trained Zip ran out a ready winner of the Class Three Apprentice Handicap for rider Jessica Cooley on Doncaster’s November Handicap Day.

So long the Apprentice race has been the curtain closer of the meeting and the year and luckily it was Zip that poked his grey head in front in the Doncaster gloom for onlookers may not have appreciated any other winner.

Conditions on the day at Town Moor were treacherous.

Despite the poor visibility the course continued to battle the elements in fear of not wanting to lose another fixture to their already damaged calendar.

The Fahey gelding kept on well in the closing stages as he began a big winning tally for the yard.

The Musley Bank trainer has saddled five winners since and currently operating at a healthy strike rate of 14 per cent.

One of those winners came at Southwell as Requinto Dawn got back to winning ways.

In the hands of former champion jockey Paul Hanagan, the five-year-old held on strongly at the line to land the six-furlong contest on the fibre sand.

It was a poignant win for Hanagan as Requinto Dawn was the horse he fell off at Newcastle earlier this year.

Having returned to race riding in August, Hanagan has done remarkably well to fight back from the near career ending injury he suffered in February.

“That win was probably the one that meant the most this year as obviously that was the lad that I had the fell off, (it was) no fault of his, it was my fault - we just clipped heels,” he said.