Trainer Ed Bethell was left fighting back the tears after Regional provided him with a first Group One success in the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock.
It is less than three years since the Middleham Moor handler took over the licence from his father James, who trained for over four decades before handing over the reins.
Regional has proved a real flagbearer since being bought for the bargain basement price of 3,5000 guineas in the summer of 2021, rewarding his connections with three previous wins, two of which have been achieved at Haydock.
Having landed the Listed Achilles Stakes at the Merseyside venue in June, the five-year-old got his first crack at Group One glory in the Nunthorpe at York last month and was not disgraced in finishing fifth, encouraging Bethell to give it another go over an extra furlong.
A 10-1 shot in the hands of Callum Rodriguez, Regional was never too far off the speed and dug deep as the post loomed to see off 50-1 outsider Shouldvebeenaring by a neck.
“I’m just over the moon. I’m in an incredibly fortunate position, to take over from my father, and my parents have been big supporters of mine,” said a clearly emotional Bethell.
“I never thought it would happen (winning a Group One). A huge ‘thank you’ has to go to Barbara Jones, who rides this horse every day – she doesn’t go on holiday because she wants to make sure he’s in tip-top form. She’s the important one here, along with the rest of my team at home. I’m just the lucky one to have my name on the ticket.
“We bought this horse just to win a race and he’s taken these guys (owners) on a tremendous ride. This meteoric rise is down to the team at home and we’ve just been incredibly fortunate.”
Bethell felt the step up in trip was key to Regional’s performance, adding: “He was able to travel in his comfort zone, which he wasn’t in the Nunthorpe. The whole complexion of the race changed at York with Live In The Dream going so quick and fair play to him, but we were rushed off our feet.
“Today we were so much more comfortable at this trip at this level. I thought maybe he’d gone too quick and he’d get swallowed up, but he was one of the last to come off the bridle. I can’t believe it really.”
The trainer is keen to let the dust settle before firming up plans for his stable star.
He said: “I’ll enjoy today and tonight and get back to it tomorrow morning. I don’t know where we’ll go next, the owners might want to go to America, but I’ll just see how the horse is first and make a decision.
“Genuinely, I don’t think words can describe how I’m feeling. I told myself if we finish in the first five we’ve done well. “When we won a handicap over six furlongs here two years ago I couldn’t believe it. I thought ‘I’ve done my job now, he’s won a race, maybe the owners will stick with me’.
“Did I ever think he could go and do this? No. These sort of days I hope will go a long way to helping the yard achieve what I want it to.”
Rodriguez – also winning his first Group One – said: “It was an amazing performance by the horse and what a story it’s been with him this year, being picked up for 3,500 guineas. The journey he has taken his syndicate on is just amazing. It was very smooth as he hit the gates very well and was in a good rhythm all the way and every time I asked him he responded.”