The trials and tribulations of running a Point-to-Point in the current Covid Crisis were clearly illustrated because less than 24 hours before the scheduled start time, agreement was finally reached with the Local Authority that allowed the meeting to go ahead but resulted in further restrictions being placed on Gloucester Races at Maisemore Park on Sunday morning.
Unfortunately, the removal of the Amber Zone for owners, no bookmakers and the restriction on the numbers attending to each horse, plus the absence of participants from Wales and Tier 2 or 3 areas meant there was a price to be paid.
Local Authority Environmental Health Officers and police were present to advise on compliance with these regulations while BHA Representatives were on hand to offer support in these difficult circumstances.
Everyone involved emerged with great credit for their persistence and hard work getting this event off the ground with the odds stacked against them.
Jockeys – socially distancing – and waiting to weigh out
Area Secretary Nickie Sheppard acted as Chief Covid Steward so it was appropriate that after all her hard work she had a winner at her home meeting.
Organised Solution faced nine rivals in the PPORA Club Members Intermediate, but Milo Herbert had no doubts about the 6-year-olds fitness as he was at the head of affairs from the start.
His jumping was far from foot perfect during the first half of this contest but they were still showing their rivals the way racing down the back straight for the final time.
They recovered from another mistake at the fourth from home but that allowed Gottagottagetaway and No Limitations to force themselves into contention and there was little between the three runners approaching the final obstacle.
Milo Herbert and Organised Solution on their way to victory
Herbert’s mount held a narrow lead and sealed victory with a better jump which meant he was quicker into his stride and able to withstand their renewed efforts on the flat.
“He is open to improvement as he would not have been suited by the course and needed the run so I was very impressed” stated the trainers husband Matt in the winner’s enclosure later. “He’s potentially he is one of the best horses we have trained and will look for an Open next and then possibly Hunter Chases. Milo gave him a cracking ride”.
The rest of the afternoon belonged to Morville trainer Mel Rowley and jockey Alex Edwards who landed four winners to add to their solitary success at Bishops Court the previous afternoon.
Their first and second winners of the day were provided by The Player Queen and The Wrekin in the two divisions of the Tattersalls Cheltenham sponsored two mile five furlong Maiden, which meant that added to their previous day’s success with Kyntara the stable has won all three qualifying races run so far this season.
The Player Queen made a couple of minor errors early on but gradually warmed to her task, but looked vulnerable approaching the fourth from home.
Ask the Lady was being challenged by Same Opinion when the Yorkshire trained raider fell at this obstacle, but The Player Queen then surged to the front and proved far too strong for the opposition in the home straight.
The Player Queen (red and white) and Another Nightcap fight out the finish
In his post race interview Edwards stated his mount “was a little bit green but was confident that if he kept the revs up his mount would respond”.
Mel Rowley is now the nominated trainer at their Morville yard as these and potential future winners will aid an application if or when a N.H. licence is sort.
The Wrekin was probably the more impressive of these two racecourse debutants. Mount Ros and The Wrekin cut out the donkey work but the former began to drop out when the leader was joined by Sonic Gold and Why Annie on the final bend.
Emma Yardley’s runner and The Wrekin started to gain the upper hand between the final two fences with Sonic Gold looking to be in command as they approached the last with a narrow lead.
Sonic Gold (near side) and The Wrekin are inseperable at the last
Neither horse did anything wrong but The Wrekin was just a fraction quicker away than his rival and that proved the difference between defeat and victory.
“That was good”, was Alex Edwards post race comment “his jumping was awesome, but he would have been better suited with more pace”.
Wishing and Hoping became Rowley’s third winner of the afternoon following his success in the Mixed Open.
Edwards was determined to make the running on this potential Foxhunters candidate but was harried throughout by Victoria Sollitt on Roc D’Aspis. The Kent raider Full Irish failed to show his true form, which resulted in the first two named runners being joined by Duhallow Tornado during the final half mile.
Wishing and Hoping fly the last with Roc D’Aspis and Duhallow Tornado vying for second spot
Wishing and Hoping held a narrow lead into the home straight but Roc D’Aspis was proving a hard nut to crack. Edwards’s mount found extra between the final two fences and put in another exorbitant leap at the last which put the issue beyond doubt.
Rowley’s final winner was provided by Latitude in the first division of the Point-to-Point Flat Race.
With three quarters of a mile to run, Jo O’Shea’s Willewonga and Edwards’s mount Latitude suddenly opened up a healthy lead and matched one another stride for stride on the home turn.
Straightening up for the judge Latitude finally began to assert as Willewonga’s earlier efforts began to take their toll and Rowley’s runner went onto record an effortless win.
Latitude and Alex Edwards storm to victory
Given the stables dominance of this meeting, if bookmakers had been allowed, Luke Sam must have started a short-priced favourite for Division II of the Point-to-Point Flat Race.
Any winnings accumulated in those earlier races would probably have ended up in the bookies satchels as the 4-year-old son of Excelebration could not match the pace of the leaders half a mile from home.
The West Country challenger Salvino shot into the lead with a couple of furlongs to run where long-time leader Madame Hannah struggled to retain second place. Luke Sam suddenly began to make inroads into the lead but the winner had gone beyond recall.
Locally qualified horses dominated the finish of the second division of the Oriental Club Owner/Trainer Conditions.
Will Worthington’s Vif Argent was held up by Chris Wald but improved rapidly to join the leaders going out onto their final circuit and was still calling the shots when he blundered and lost his place at the fourth from home.
He rallied around the final bend but his effort then petered out as Workbench and Way Back Then battled for supremacy. Workbench looked all over the winner between the final two fences, but Way Back Then was not going to be denied and got his head in front again approaching the last and showed great determination to retain his advantage on the flat.
Way Back Then and Evan David at the second last
The winner has proved “fragile” according to Mary Vesty who trains the winner on her father’s estate at Stowell Park. She also added “the first-time tongue tie has proved the making of him”.
The Conditions provided the biggest field of the day but they were all put firmly in their place by a fine front running performance from Emma Alvis’s Big Casino.
Zac Baker was content to bide his time before sending his mount to the front after a mile, after which the 14-year-old got into a good rhythm and met every fence on a perfect stride.
Going down the back straight Carter McKay, The Well Road and Ucello Conti were all making their bid for glory but as hard as they tried none of them was able to get the winner out of his comfort zone.
Big Casino provides Zac Baker with his first win of the season
The 14-year-old is one of two horses trained by Emma Alvis at Laverton near Broadway and for a horse of his age to retain his enthusiasm reflects well on the trainer who thought “he would need the run”.
The Slatter family from Toddington had a frustrating afternoon with the Angela Slatter trained Waterloo Warrior narrowly beaten in Division I of the Oriental Club Race, while Jake Slatter and Jim Collett’s pair I’m Wiser Now and Rose Iland both failed in the 6-year-old and upward Maiden.
Angela Slatter commented in our seasonal preview that Waterloo Warrior had missed some preparatory work due to her breaking her arm – that and the 6 lb concession to his rivals proved crucial in the closing stages.
Admittedly Waterloo Warrior looked ring rusty at several fences but was still in contention with four to jump. Silent Man and Sioned Whittle held a narrow advantage before they were passed by Golden Tobouggan at the second from home.
Silent Man and Waterloo Warrior both made significant efforts in the closing stages but the winner had claimed a crucial advantage at a vital stage of the race which allowed Julie Wadland’s runner to claim a well-deserved success.
Jim Collett and Jake Slatter ran two horses in the older Maiden and must have been harbouring hopes of success when I’m Wiser Now and Hannah Lewis moved into a challenging position down the back straight.
That horse’s stablemate Rose Illand and Winter Holiday had been battling for the lead up to that point, but I’m Wiser Now seemed to have taken their measure when he overjumped and tipped up at the fourth from home.
Winter Holiday moved past Rose Illand on the final turn and with that horse weakening quickly over the final two fences it was left to Barley Hill to claim the runner up spot.
The winner provided a first win for 26-year-old James Ward, who only took up the challenge of race riding after a few too many drinks with his partner Page Fuller.
ORIENTAL CLUB OWNER/TRAINERS CONDITIONS – DIVISION I
1ST GOLDEN TOBOUGGAN J ANDREWS
2ND SILENT MAN MISS S WHITTLE
3RD WATERLOO WARRIOR J KING
ORIENTAL CLUB OWNER/TRAINERS CONDITIONS – DIVISION II
1ST WAY BACK THEN E DAVID
2ND WORKBENCH M DODD
3RD VIF DARGENT C WALD
TATTERSALLS CHELTENHAM MAIDEN – DIVISION I
1ST THE PLAYER QUEEN A EDWARDS
2ND ANOTHER NIGHTCAP J KING
3RD ASK THE LADY J ANDREWS
TATTERSALLS CHELTENHAM MAIDEN – DIVISION II
1ST THE WREKIN A EDWARDS
2ND SONIC GOLD B GIBBS
3RD MISTER MORETTI J KING
PPORA CLUB MEMBERS INTERMEDIATE
1ST ORGANISED SOLUTION M HERBERT
2ND GOTTAGOTTAGETAWAY MISS H LEWIS
3RD NO LIMITATIONS B GIBBS
1ST WISHING AND HOPING A EDWARDS
2ND ROC D’ASPIS MRS V SOLLITT
3RD DUHALLOW TORNADO MISS G ANDREWS
1ST BIG CASINO Z BAKER
2ND CARTER MCKAY J ANDREWS
3RD THE WELL ROAD MISS H LEWIS
6-YEAR-OLD AND OVER MAIDEN
1ST WINTER HOLIDAY J WARD
2ND BARLEY HILL P MASON
3RD ROSE ILLAND J ANDREWS
FLAT RACE – DIVISION I
1ST LATITUDE A EDWARDS
2ND WILLEWONGA H EDWARDS
3RD ROSE ABOVE IT D PRITCHARD
FLAT RACE – DIVISION II
1ST SALVINO D ANDREWS
2ND LUKE SAM A EDWARDS
3RD HIGHWAYBAY J TEAL
NO BOOKMAKERS – NO SP’S
In contrast to Maisemore, Saturdays East Devon fixture at Bishops Court was plain sailing except for a minor blip with their live streaming at the start of the meeting.
Two West Midland qualified horses made the long journey down the M5 and both scored impressively with Kyntara hacking up in the 4 & 5-year-old Maiden, while Immy Robinson and Ryans Fancy took the Print Concerns Support the NHS Restricted.
Tommie O’Brien and Alice Stevens carried the flag for locally qualified riders with the former scoring on Sparkleandshine in the PPORA Conditions while Alice Stevens and Red Indian recorded a facile win in the Ladies.
Bruelay and Tip Top Mountain had been in front for a majority of the Maiden, but Mel Rowley’s runner (a first success since taking over from her husband Phil) began to make stealthy progress down the back straight and moved up onto the heels of the leaders just before the second last.
Alex Edwards mount surged clear after jumping that obstacle and sprinted clear to score in the style of a useful animal and looks worth considerably more than connections paid for him at Tattersalls Ireland last year.
The jockey was impressed with the horse’s performance and stated “it is nice to know the horses are in good form”.
The winner received a ringing endorsement from fellow trainer Charlie Poste who identified him as a potential star of the future.
Irish import Ryans Fancy proved far too strong for his rivals in the Restricted. Like Kyntara he had made the 4 hour plus journey down from Shropshire.
Immy Robinson was content to keep a watching brief on the favourite Thechaseison before passing that rival halfway down the back straight and sweeping into a clear lead.
Approaching two out Papal Present moved into contention but his challenge soon petered out and the winner was already well clear when Phil York’s mount departed at the last.
Brought by current connections at Doncaster last May, by Caroline Robinson “because I liked the look of him and he was not big money”, while her daughter Immy stated “He started to get lite up in the paddock so my instructions were to drop out and hunt him round, but when he saw daylight he went. We had some concerns about the ground but he just skipped through it”.
Tommie O’Brien and Sparkleandshine scored an effortless win in the PPORA Conditions. They led virtually throughout and drew well clear during the final half mile to provide Alan Hill with his first winner of the season.
The trainer reported that last seasons early curtailment had been a blessing in disguise for the winner who had benefited from time in the field.
Alice Stevens and Red Indian proved far too strong for their rivals in the Ladies. Sent on soon after halfway the winner went further and further clear and won impressively despite being eased down at the finish.