William Hill Rowland Meyrick Chase
Grade 3 Handicap, Wetherby 13:35
£50,000 guaranteed, 4yo plus,
3m 45y, Class 1  
Tuesday 26th December 2023


1 Fontaine Collonges 100/30
2 Empire Steel 7/2
6 ran Distances: 14l
Time: 6m 48.10s (slow by 44.10s)

Shane Quinlan celebrated his first Christmas with family in 13 years by securing the most significant victory of his career aboard Fontaine Collonges.

His relatives traveled from Cork to witness the 3lb claimer guide his mount to a commanding triumph, finishing a remarkable 14 lengths ahead of the only other finisher, Empire Steel.

Reflecting on the moment, Quinlan, who has been riding in Britain since 2014, stated, "My family are here today, my two brothers and my mum and dad. The last time they were at the races was my very first ride at Limerick 13 years ago. It's our first Christmas in 13 years, and luckily I had a ride, and to win is extra special. My grandad passed away a few months ago, and I'm sure he'd have loved that; he was one of my biggest fans — he's not here, but he's with us in spirit."


Trained by Venetia Williams, Fontaine Collonges, hailing from the lineage of Grand National winner Neptune Collonges, is proving to be a promising stayer.

"She finished the race like a fresh horse," Quinlan said. "It didn't take too much out of her. We were going quick but I was always comfortable.

"I looked round turning in and I had the second off the bridle, so I was happy to hold on for as long as I could. Jumping three out he gave me a scare when I heard him come upsides but the second I asked my mare she quickened up to the second-last and winged it.

"She's talented but quirky. Last time at Sandown she made a mistake at the first and unshipped the jockey. She's got a bit of a mind of her own but when she puts her head to the game she's very good."

Williams was not among the crowd of just under 10,000 but said from Aintree: "I'm really delighted with that. Shane schooled her on Sunday and she jumped very well. It's great to see her back on track."

Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase
£50,000 guaranteed, 4yo plus, 3m 45y, Class 1
6 ran
Going: Soft, Good to Soft in places

1    Fontaine Collonges 8 10-6 Venetia Williams Shane Quinlan 100/30
14 Empire Steel 9 11-2 Sandy Thomson Ryan Mania 7/2
PU Does He Know 8 12-0 Kim Bailey David Bass 15/2
PU Karl Philippe 8 10-9 Fergal O'Brien Jack Hogan 11/4F
PU Into Overdrive 8 11-4 Mark Walford Jamie Hamilton 11/2
PU Houston Texas 9 10-2 Nicky Richards Sean Quinlan 6/1