Naughton Enjoys His Change of Luck

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Byline: By Doug Moscrop

Conditonal jockey Michael Naughton, sidelined for eight months with two broken vertebrae in his back, enjoyed some good fortune for a change by winning the first two races on Indy Mood and Darnley at Newcastle on Saturday.

Indy Mood was being pushed along before the straight in the Saltwell Signs British Bred Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race. He kept answering the calls of Naughton to take up the running and after being headed by Gary's Pimpernel, fought back to regain the initiative by a head.

Indy Mood was the first bumper winner for Jedburgh permit-holder Harriett Graham.

Naughton, 29, and based near Middlesbrough, had luck on his side when completing a 168-1 double on Darnley in the BBC Radio Newcastle Novices' Chase, in which Ryders Storm was a disappointment.

Argento had the race at his mercy when he got into the bottom of the last fence and took a fall, presenting the prize to Naughton's mount, who was destined for second.

"That is a nice Christmas present. My twin brother Edmund, who is an aircraft engineer, is here today and he has brought me luck," said Naughton.

Inching Closer maintained the superb run of owners Andrea and Graham Wylie with an effortless victory in the James Fletcher Marquee And Pavilion Hire Novices' Chase.

"We weren't confident about this one as he has not schooled well over fences at home. That's why we put the blinkers on," said Graham, after the six-year-old had toyed with Joe Di Capo on his first run for Howard Johnson.

Graham Lee gave him a confident ride and the gelding didn't have to come off the bridle to open his chasing account.

Johnson suffered an unexpected reverse in the Tote Exacta Novices' Hurdle when Kasthari, a lightly raced but smart stayer on the Flat for Sir Michael Stoute, could only finish third to previous winner Shayadi. …