Hands and heels leader gets Johnston backing

Mark Johnston's Tartan Bute will be ridden by Jane Elliott at Lingfield

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Hands and heels leader gets Johnston backing
By Mark Scully 7:20AM 3 MAR 2017

JANE ELLIOTT is teaming up with Mark Johnston as she bids to wrap up victory in the All-Weather Hands and Heels series at Lingfield on Saturday.

The 7lb claimer, an apprentice with George Margarson, has enjoyed an excellent start to 2017, with four winners and five seconds from her 35 rides to date.

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Elliott also finds herself at the top of the series standings after seven races with 46 points, four clear of Aled Beech in second and with William Cox in third on 41 points.

Riders receive five points for a win, three for coming second, two for third and one for fourth. Additional points are also on offer for other aspects including their professionalism and presentation as they compete for a prize of £1,000, which can be spent on enhancing their career.

Elliott will line up in Saturday's eighth and final race, itself worth £10,000, where she will ride the Johnston-trained last-start winner Tartan Bute. Beech, meanwhile, is due to partner Scrafton.

"I'd always known about the series and George ran a horse in the first race at Southwell in November," said the 21-year-old. "I came second that day then won on Seek The Fair Land in the third race, so with the points on the board, I thought it would be a good target to aim for during the winter.

"It's definitely something I would encourage people to do because it teaches you about pace and how to ride a race as opposed to just picking up your whip three out and trying to hit your horse."

Elliott feels another positive of the series has been her exposure to other trainers, something she hopes will stand her in good stead as she continues to develop her career.

On riding for the powerful Johnston yard, she added: "It's great to get a ride for Mark Johnston, especially on a Saturday, it's just massive.

"An opportunity like that probably wouldn't come around for me any other way without this race and this series."

Jockeys who have taken part in the hands and heels series since it was launched in 2010 include Adam Kirby, Andrea Atzeni, James Doyle and William Buick.

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