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Optimistic Thornton in race to return from injury

By Nick Robson

Andrew Thornton expects to be back in action at the end of this month as he continues his recuperation from injury.

The weighing-room veteran hurt a knee when he turned sharply after dismounting from Kentford Myth in the winner's enclosure at Wincanton on Boxing Day, having just registered a landmark 1,000th domestic career success.

"I've been to Jack Berry House for the past four days, so I'm certainly not resting on my laurels," said the 44-year-old.

"I'm seeing a specialist in 10 days and I'll hopefully know a bit more.

"Having the operation just three days after it happened was a massive help, if I'd waited a week or so I'd only just have been able to start the rehab today.

"By having it so soon I was able to start my recovery straight away. I've Dr Foy to thank for that.

"I'll be back before the end of this month and I feel 21 again!"

Brian Harding is set for a spell on the sidelines after a fall at Musselburgh on Tuesday.

Harding (44) took a tumble from Shotofwine in the three-mile handicap hurdle.

Initially it was reported that the weighing room's elder statesman was not badly injured, but on further inspection problems were found.

His boss Nicky Richards said: "Brian's not in a good way, unfortunately. It's worse than first thought.

"He's got damage to his T7 vertebrae and the horse kicked him at the bottom of his back and bruised a kidney.

"He'll be off a while longer than first thought."

Happy Diva is not surprisingly set to step up in class after defying a penalty with ease at Wetherby.

Kerry Lee's six-year-old had been put up 16lb by the handicapper after winning at Fontwell on Boxing Day, but she only had to carry an extra 7lb in West Yorkshire.

Conditional jockey Richard Patrick still had her on a tight rein for much of the straight, with his main concern being getting his mount over the obstacles.

She managed that to win the Today's Racing Just £10 Mares' Handicap Hurdle by seven lengths from fellow 9-4 joint-favourite Two Swallows.

"Last time the race fell apart behind her so I felt a 16lb rise was harsh, but it was right looking at that," said Lee.

"We had to run again with a penalty and she's improved again. We'll go back looking for black type now.

"She's a gorgeous mare. She was actually in the Listed race at Sandown but we'd have been giving weight away to horses rated higher than us."

Hainan landed the feature Racing UK-sponsored three-mile chase for Sue Smith and Danny Cook with a typical bold-jumping display.

The 7-2 joint-favourite was gifted a 10-length lead from the outset and never saw another rival. Only six, he is all stamina and it would be no surprise to see him turn up in a Midlands National one day given the ease of this nine-length win.

"It was nice to get an easy lead out in front and he's a very strong stayer," said Cook.

"He's still only a baby really for these types of races, he's just turned six but he jumps and stays."

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