Category Archives: Reports

BLACKWATER BRAMBLE PROVIDES THE SMITH-MAXWELL’S WITH A WINNER AT BUCKFASTLEIGH

At the start of the season Point-to-Point enthusiasts normally endure wind, rain and cold temperatures or a combination of all three but none of these conditions were in evidence when Buckfastleigh staged the opening meeting of the season on Sunday afternoon.

Several horses made the long journey down from the West Midlands and performed well but the Conditions Race had a significant interest to racegoers from our area.

The winner was qualified with the Tiverton and that would not normally attract our interest, but further investigation revealed the owners were the Smith-Maxwell whose name has been synonymous with West Midland pointing for several decades.

Successes have been hard to come by in recent seasons, but that all changed with Blackwater Bramble’s narrow win. The 7-year-old son of Kings Theatre had been successful in an Irish maiden before winning a Restricted and Intermediate for Paul Barber and David Martin.

He was dIspatched to Ascot Sales over the summer, where he was picked up cheaply by West Buckland Bloodstock and on this evidence, connections have picked up a bargain.

That enterprise is synonymous with trainer Alex Dunn, who trains the horse for her mother Katherine and sister Roz, while the horse was guided to victory by her brother RAU based student John.

Blackwater Bramble (green) is up with the leaders at halfway

Confidently ridden from the start, Smith-Maxwell was content to track the pace making Pinkneys Prince until sending his mount to the front turning back towards home. Millie Wonnacott and Heaney were quick to respond and these two had a protracted battle on the final climb and it was impossible to separate them at the last.

John Smith-Maxwell drives the winner out on the flat

With the advantage of the running rail the winner ran on gamely to score a narrow success. Smith-Maxwell confided to the family that “I am pretty sure I won” but it took several minutes before the result was confirmed and connections could start to celebrate.

All smiles in the winners enclosure after Blackwater Bramble’s success

Dymock trainer Sam Jukes took two horses down to Buckfastleigh but was out of luck with both, although Showmetheway put up a bold showing in the 2-1/2-mile Maiden.

Showmetheway (pink) leads the field before the final circuit

Clive Bennetts home bred gelding disputed the lead with Skinflint going out onto the final circuit, but neither horse was able to shake off the attentions of newcomer Tide Times. Showmetheway weakened after 2 out which left to the other two to fight out the finish.

Showmetheway drops back at the leaders fight out the finish

It transpired that Showmetheway received a bad cut during the race which could not be resolved on the racecourse so a trip to the trainer’s local vet was required on the way home.

Will Gaskins TB Broke Her ran a promising race in the Mixed Open. Hannah Lewis had the  8-year-old mare on the heels of the leaders throughout and moved up menacingly along the back straight, but they could never get within striking distance of Navanman and Prince Mahler and finished 6-lengths and a length and a half behind the winner.

TB Broke Her (blue colours) is on the heels of the leaders as they start out on their final circuit  and stays on doggedly to claim third place

All 6 entries were declared for the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate where the Nicky Sheppard trained Ballycahane faced a difficult task conceding loads of weight to all of his rivals. Milo Herbert had him in a prominent position throughout but they could only stay on a one pace during the final half mile and had to settle for an honourable third.

Leading West Midland rider Tommie O’Brien did not take long to open his account teaming up with trainer Joe O’Shea to take the Maiden with Road to Rome who was the subject of significant late support.

Ridden with great confidence Road to Rome was always in the leading pair and went clear with their chief market rival Banco de Logos during the final circuit. The winner began to assert on the climb into the home straight and won easily and justifying the 250 mile plus journey from his Cheshire base.

Tommie O’Brien scores an easy win on Road to Rome

RESULTS

1ST        TIDE TIMES                             J BAMENT                              7-1

2ND       SKINFLINT

3RD       SHOWMETHEWAY

CONDITIONS

1ST        BLACKWATER BRAMBLE       J SMITH MAXWELL                3-1

2ND       HEANEY

3RD       HORWOOD LAD

RESTRICTED

1ST        DRUID SPITFIRE                      T CHANIN                               5-1

2ND       MISSYLADIE

3RD       PREDESTINED

MIXED OPEN

1ST        NAVANMAN                           B CARVER                               7-4

2ND       PRINCE MAHLER

3RD       TB BROKE HER

MAIDEN

1ST        ROAD TO ROME                   T O’BRIEN                               4-6

2ND       BANCO DE LOGOS

3RD       MOONARO

INTERMEDIATE

1ST        BROADCLYST                         T CHANIN                               6-4

2ND       POINTVIEW GALE

3RD       BALLYCAHANE

AREA PREVIEW – PART TWO

 

PHIL ROWLEY – BRIDGNORTH

Phil Rowley and Alex Edwards were recently crowned the sports Leading Trainer and Rider and these sit alongside the Area Awards they picked up a couple of months previously. Over 30 horses are listed on the trainers website so it would take a brave person to bet against them retaining both these Awards.

They have horses to cover every eventuality, early season performers followed by horses that act on firmer ground in the spring. They have staying horses, plus short distance performers and a plethora of youngsters for the future.

Diana Williams has GADROSE, HAZEL HILL and MISS REYNARD to carry her colours. Hazel Hill had won 12 races on the trot before he was beaten by Garde Ville at Sandon. That was a major surprise at the time but the winners exploits later in the season put that defeat into perspective.

AUPCHARLIE has proved expensive to follow and even Alex Edwards could not pursued him to win at Edgcote, but Michaela Tallett with be hoping that he can provide her with the elusive first winner.

Aupcharlie and Alex Edwards (right) get headed in the closing stages at Edgcote

CHAMPAGNE LILLY is a progressive mare who will need to remain on an upward curve if she is to retain her unbeaten record, while STOLEAWAY is going in the right direction and will win his fair share of races over the next 6 months.

Champagne Lilly needs to keep up the good work this season

Those with form between the flags include BEARS AFFAIR (successful at Cottenham), LEVASSEUR (who has headed near the finish at Tabley), CALIENTE who was third before winning at Kingston Blount, MAC’S GIFT (who beat Ballycahane at Chaddesley) and MAGIC MUSIC MAN who won a short Open at Tabley.

NOW BEN three wins were sandwiched between two pulled up at the start and end of season, while OPTIMISED won three races before he was sent off as second favourite for the Connolly’s RED MILLS Final at Cheltenham.

SALVATORE was another multiple winner for the stable, as was SULU MAGIC and NAMAKO. It is difficult to know what to make of the form of MILZIPA and SHARE A BEAR who both won 3 runner Maidens at Dingley and Eyton, while SHALLTO won a JRL Flat Race at Garthorpe and it will be interesting to see how he performs with an obstacle placed in front of him.

Although beaten at Cold Harbour there was a lot to like about MR KNOWITALL’S performance as he fought back strongly in the closing stages and must surely win a Maiden before the season is out.

DALKINGSTOWN was moved up a place after the subsequent disqualification of the winner in a Necarne Maiden and can only improve in Rowley’s hands. BLIND TRUTH, FLAMBOYANT JOYAUX and STEREO SOUND are three named youngsters, but there are at least another 6 un-named ones in the pipeline and that should ensure the Morville stable enjoys another successful season.

MAX YOUNG – DROITWICH

Last season could not have gone better for Droitwich based Max Young and he is hoping to build on those successes. Max worked at Worcester Racecourse whilst at the University and decided to work full time with horses after his graduation in 2012.

He spent a year in Wales breaking horses and added retraining and riding out in point-to-point yards to these skills. Max split his time between working for local trainer Henry Oliver and assisting his partner Liz at Hillgrove Stud and Training Centre, but is now committed full time to his new venture.

Max is preparing 12 horses, with several more ready to make their debuts if they show the required attitude. Most of them will be out before Christmas, and their first runs will guide future development.

A half share was being offered in ASK THE GUVNOR who ran once last season, finishing fourth in a Machen Maiden after joining the stable a few weeks previously. He is reported to be showing plenty of ability and should be very competitive.

Most of the youngsters are un-named and unraced but among those pleasing the trainer are offspring of Mastercraftsman out of Wedding Morn, Kayf Tara out of Michelles Ella and a Malinas out of Kicks Milan.

CAV’S GIRL was placed 2nd on her Irish debut back in 2017 and occupied a similar position at Ballingary in 2018, with the trainer reporting “she is a big mare who can only get better in time”.

The yard had a 75% success rate from their first time runners last year and can call upon Zac Baker and Alice Stevens to ride out and school the horses. The facilities have also been upgraded  and an all-weather 2f round gallop has been installed, plus a 5-furlong grass gallop. All of these should help ensure they meet the heading on their website “Young enthusiastic yard, striving for success”.

JOHN SMITH MAXWELL – PHEPSON

John Smith Maxwell is teaming up with HOWABOUTIT this year. The horse was previously with his sister Alex Dunn. The 9-year-old has struggled recently, but may find the drop in class results in a revival in his fortunes.

JANE ALLFREY – ALFRICK

Alfrick trainer Jane Allfrey is busy preparing three horses MASTER HIDE, PULL THE TRIGGER and IN THE DOCK.

All three were Pointing last season, with the former finally getting his head in front in a Bitterley Maiden. Pull the Trigger is an ongoing project and should be able to build on his fourth at Garthorpe, while In the Dock failed in his attempt to land another North Ledbury Members, but there is another race to be won with him.

JO PRIEST – UPTON ON SEVERN

Holdfast Stable near Upton on Severn saw an increase in activity last year, with Jo Priest settling in well to her new base. The stable ended the season in fine style following SWISS HEIGHTS impressive Maiden win at Chaddesley Corbett, and a good ground Restricted is in his sights later in the season.

Swiss Heights scores at Chaddesley

A TAIL OF INTRIGUE will run in early season Points for Max Chenery. The 10-year-old has twice finished third in the Grand Military Gold Cup, the first for Ian Williams and the second for Nicky Henderson, so Jo has some big boots to fill.

ALFSTAR could be seen out in an early season Hunter Chase, while newcomer CHU CHU PERCY will run in Ladies Open after Christmas. He ran in Paul and Clare Rooneys colours following his purchase at Ascot in 2016 and won a 3-mile race at Perth for them two years later.

BUFFALO SABRE is being aimed at a 2 mile 4 furlong Restricted at Chaddesley just after Xmas, while newcomer WONDERFUL DREAMER has the Point-to-Point Bumper at Barbury on 16th December as an early season objective. He was previously with Jim Bolger.

We did not see the best of GALLANT LAD last year but connections are keen to have another crack at the Ledbury Members.

NICKIE SHEPPARD – EASTNOR

Not far away at Eastnor Nickie Sheppard is busy preparing BALLYCAHANE for the Herbert family. He won 4 times last season but with the rider now out of Novice Riders that limits opportunities for the pair, so connections will be thumbing through the planner to find winning opportunities.

Ballycahane and Milo Herbert could get off the mark at Buckfastleigh

ANGELA RUCKER – WOODHOUSE FARM

The Ruckers William and Angela Rucker have horses with Evan Williams and Fergal O’Brien to run under N.H. Rules but Point-to-Point Racing also plays an integral part in their lives.

BARRAKILLA won a Hunter Chase at Bangor at the start of last season and then finished second at Leicester and fourth at Aintree, and on that evidence his first run provides him with his best chance of success.

WYLDE MAGIC comes from Evan Williams. He struggled to win with him since he got his head in front on his debut in February 2016. He finished three quarters of a length runner up in a 2-1/2 mile hurdle race so has a good chance of making his mark in their grade.

MONBEG OSCAR was the impressive winner of an Oldcastle Maiden as a 4-year-old back in 2016 and has subsequently been placed on numerous occasions, including a second at Southwell earlier this year. The quartet is made up by SWIFT CRUSADER .

RYAN POTTER/EMMA YARDLEY – CARADOC

Last year proved a defining season for Ryan Potter and Emma Yardley with a Cheltenham Hunter Chase added to their growing C.V. and led to an increase in their occupancy rate. They now have 10 pointers (double last seasons total). During the summer they moved to Caradoc Estate, near Ross on Wye which was once the base of successful National Hunt Trainer John Edwards.

The couple admit they are spoilt with the facilities at their new base which include a four furlong carpet fibre round gallop and a mile long woodchip gallop. There are also two outdoor and one indoor schools, a horse walker, a carpet fibre schooling strip and grass schooling ground.

Emma sums up the thoughts of everyone involved in the sport “We have high hopes at the start of the season, but if we can keep improving, have a few more winners and keep the horses fit, well and sound throughout the season we will be more than happy”.

Stable star FOXCUB may have an entry in the Cheltenham Foxhunters if he maintains the progress, while BRAVE JAQ has come in a bigger and stronger horse than last year and will be aimed at short distance hunter chases.

LIGHT FLICKER was placed three times for Andrew Campbell including a half a length second to Toby Macquire at Andoversford, while CALL ME BEN’S second at Larkhill was his best effort of the season.

KILMACALLOGUE BAY could return to the winners enclosure if repeating his performance behind Templebraden at Hackwood Park, and these will be joined by three newcomers TOUR DE PUB, DUBLIN INDEMNITY and POYLE THOMAS.

Tour de Pub had one run for Joe Drinkwater last year when he was sent off favourite for a short Flete Park Maiden where he took a keen hold and was pulled up when beaten. Dublin Indemnity has struggled for previous trainers Tom Symonds and Kerry Lee, while Poyle Thomas has been campaigned on the flat so his first outing over obstacles will be informative.

JAMES RIDLEY – KINNERSLEY

James Ridley and partner Jess Short are looking forward to the new season. Their inmates include old favourite BIG GEORGIE who got his head in front when winning at the North Ledbury and was not disgraced when beaten by Gard Ville at Knightwick.

RIGADEN DE BEAUCHINE completed in many top class races under Rules but last won back in 2015. A glance at his form indicates he is suited by a test of stamina so could spring a surprise when conditions are in his favour.

CHASE ME is 7-years-old and came from Nigel Twiston Davies stable. He had obviously been showing something at home because he started favourite at Warwick earlier this year, before being acquired by his current connections.

GREEN WINTER needs no introduction because he is a prolific winner between the flags and he should continue to make his presence felt in this grade.

Black Frost winning at the Golden Valley and Green Winter at Cold Harbour

BLACK FROST won a three runner Bredwardine Maiden for the Oliver’s in May and with that experience behind him he is ready to make the next step up the ladder. 

DRAFT PICK finished second on two occasions when trained by Will Biddick but connections have yet to decide whether his future lays under Rules or if he will stay pointing.

CALLUM BICKERS PRICE – BROMYARD

Callum Bickers Price starts 2018/2019 with 3 horses to race from his Bromyard stable. CROWDED ROOM scored a shock win at Chaddesley in December 2017, but was disappointing afterwards although he did show signs of improvement by finishing third behind Ballycahane and Aupcharlie.

Crowded Room provides Callum Bickers Price with his first winner

Connections are hopeful of scoring a repeat win in the Novice Race at the Harkaway Club fixture and are aiming high this season with a tilt at the Dudley Cup on the geldings agenda.

Stablemates include HILLVIEW LAD who was pulled up on his last 5 outings and might improve if these problems are overcome. He made all to win a Loughbrickland Maiden in 2014 but it has been all downhill since then, but is being aimed at Eaton Hall later in the month. They will be joined by an UN-NAMED FLEMINSFIRTH GELDING.

CAROLINE ROBINSON – SHERRIFHALES

Caroline Robinson is busy preparing OH TOODLES. He was placed in all five outings last year before winning a Ladies Open at the South Durham.

RULES OF WAR caught the eye when successful in a Worcestershire Maiden. He looked beaten that day but fought back close home to gain the spoils despite conceding 21lbs to the runner up.

BEGGARS BUSH was another horse to score in a Maiden, this time at Eyton, whilst MYOLDMAN was purchased at the Horses in Training Sales in May after winning an Irish Point-to-Point. He had been second three times prior to that and had run out with every chance on another outing. He looks progressive and should give connections a lot of fun.

CHRISTINE BANKS – PHEPSON

Christine Banks and her daughters Abigail (Abi) and Josephine (Phine) came home laden with prizes after last season’s Awards.

WELL METT and ROUND ROBIN were the two main contributors to the Small Trainers Award.

Well Mett only won once but was placed on four other occasions, while Round Robin was placed 4 times last season and must surely get his head in front before too long.

MARTIN WESTON – OFFERTON

The family and Christine’s mother Pat Tollit also have horses in training with Martin Weston at Offerton. VASCO DU MEE is now back in work but won’t be seen out until the New Year. He failed to get his head in front last season but was also a model of consistency with two thirds and a second place.

ARTHURS SECRET was level with Volnay de Thaix when unseating his pilot at the second from home at Brocklesby Park and then scored facile wins in Ladies Open and a Hunter Chase at Worcester before disappointing in the Skinners Final at Stratford.  There is a chance he might be seen out at the North Herefordshire meeting in a few weeks time

DRUMART won a 2 runner Open at Chaddesley but struggled otherwise and might need similar circumstances to score again. Old favourites INVISIBLE MAN and HORSHAM LAD have given long and honourable service to connections and are now in a well earned retirement.

THOONAVOLLA remains with Weston but will return to Pointing where he will be partnered by one of the Banks girls but don’t expect him to show his best until the spring.

DOUBLE YOU BEE finished in the runners up spot on five occasions last year. Some horses take time to accimilatise when they come over from Ireland but he is proving an expensive horse to follow.

DINA MAKER won at Maisemore in the colours of Graham and David Fisher and is being aimed for a racecourse appearance in January, while THE LATE LEGEND picked up an injury at the Worcestershire meeting so is not expected to make an early appearance.

There are plenty of untried youngsters who will probably make appearances in Maiden Races as the season progresses, and Tom has been over in Ireland for the Tattersalls Sales which could result in further purchases.

 

AREA PREVIEW – PART ONE

Due to the large amount of information received from local owners, trainers and jockeys, this years preview has been split into two parts.

The second will appear shortly

2018/2019 POINT-TO-POINT PREVIEW

Every season provides different challenges and while many do not have any significant impact efforts to augment meetings during the early weeks of the season have proved successful increasing from 8 last year to 14 twelve months later with Devon & Cornwall, East Anglia, South Midlands, Northern, Wessex, Welsh Borders, South and West Wales, the Midlands and West Midlands Areas all willing participants.

The fixture list has evolved over decades with organisers reluctant to give up on what are considered “prime dates” so the Authorities decided some rebalancing was necessary.

These changes have come about as a result of the way in which courses are given financial support by reducing the grant given to meetings in April and increasing it for early-season fixtures and this has proved a motivating factor.

Some fixtures felt able to take advantage of a situation where the sports administrators were encouraging change and endeavouring to strike a balance between locations and dates while allowing Organising Committees to choose the time of the season which suited them best – the results so far have been encouraging.

With Claire Hazel moving onto pastures new, Peter Wright was chosen to replace her as Chief Executive of the Point-to-Point Authority.

He will be the third person to hold this post and will need all the skills and diplomacy learnt during his time in the Armed Forces to steer the organisation over the coming years.

Peter has acted as Clerk of Course at Larkhill and has experience either as an official, owner or racegoer. After his appointment Peter said “I’m incredibly passionate about the sport. I cannot wait to get started at the PPA and it is a privilege to be given the chance to take a leading role in securing the future and sustainability of British pointing.”

Another change this year allows former professional jockeys who have partnered fewer than 26 winners to be able to ride in point-to-points.

The sport has long been open to former conditional and apprentice jockeys who reverted to amateur status before reaching the 26 winner threshold. However, once this category of rider reached 26 years of age they were advised on career choices by the BHA and given the option of applying for a full professional licence and that led to them being in-eligible to ride on the pointing circuit.

At the other end of the scale, any new jockey or one who has not ridden in the last 5 years will have to pass a competency assessment before they become eligible to ride between the flags.

Pointingwm recently contacted owners, trainers and riders based in the Area and the following preview has been compiled from information they provided. We would like to thank them for their co-operation and wish everyone success over the next 6 months.

SAM JUKES – DYMOCK

A familiar site at Point-to-Points in recent seasons – a winning combination Clive Bennett and Sam Jukes

Sam Jukes breaks new ground by preparing Will Gaskins’s Tb BROKE HER for her debut in U.K. Point-to-Points, having trained exclusively for the Bennett family previously.

Gaskins is a based next door to Blacklands Farm so the new arrangement allows him to ride out most days and that suits both parties.

The 8-year-old mare raced numerous times in Ireland but came good when transferred to Matt Sheppards yard with impressive wins at Hereford and Ludlow. Gaskins reported at the time “We are so lucky to have her. It’s the first horse we brought without seeing it. She is only 15.2 hands but has the heart of a lion. I have never seen a horse eye up her fences like she does”

She will be aimed at Ladies/Mixed Opens where hopefully she will be able to repeat her successes under rules. The trainer is lined up to take the ride in Mixed Opens while connections have various options available for Ladies events.

Jukes has a new addition in TIM’S CRUSADER who won at Brampton Bryan back in 2016 but was pulled up twice last year. He looks a safe conveyance for Jukes’s farrier Daniel (Sprog) Garlick who is race riding for the first time.

The Bennett inmates include MISS SEAGREEN who was in Emma Alvis’s care last year. She was second on her debut and fancied to go one better at Bitterley before blundering away her chance at the 16th. This promising home bred mare (who is a half sister to Passage East who unfortunately died of pneumonia) is scheduled to run at Chaddesley just after Christmas.

MARCLE RIDGE fell and was pulled up on his first two runs this side of the Irish Sea but showed his true metal when allowed to bowl along in front which he did successful winning a Maiden at Chaddesley (20-lengths) and a Restricted at the same venue by 12-lengths.

Marcle Ridge winning at Chaddesley

He is pencilled in for Barbury on the 25th November along with IBERICO who won his first two races in 2017/2018 including the prestigious Lord Ashton of Hyde Cup. His run at Maisemore later in the season can be safely ignored as that course did not play to his strengths.

It took a long time for connections to find the key to UPPERTOWN HAWK and now they have learnt to wait until the ground dries up. That policy was rewarded with two wins at Cothelstone at the end of last season.

THE WELL ROAD won three times during 2017/2018 and Jukes intends taking him back to Larkhill in either December or January as he ran well at that venue 12 months ago. STONE won at Andoversford but is now at the stage of his career where connections will have to pick and choose his objectives.

SHOMETHEWAY shaped promisingly when a length second to Nobby in a division of the JRL Flat Race at Barbury. He then headed down to Great Trethew where he was unable to justify odds on favouritism and then weakened three out in a Cold Harbour Maiden. It has not been all plain sailing with her but the plan is to take her to Buckfastleigh on the opening day of the season.

EMMA ALVIS – STANTON

Bennett also have RYE CROSS and CHASFORGOLD with the Cotswold based trainer.

Rye Cross took a Buckfastleigh Mixed Open at the expense of West Country favourite Dicky Bob but then made mistake at a crucial time when third at Charlton Hawthorne a few weeks later.

Chasforgold won a Barbury Intermediate and a Larkhill Conditions before finishing third to Battle Dust at Chaddesley, second to Different Gravey at Didmarton and third in a very tight finish at Hereford Racecourse. He pulled up at Cold Harbour but that was over 4-miles, a distance which was obviously beyond his capabilities.

Chasforgold provides another winner for Sam Jukes

Alvis also has a couple of horses for Mike Rollett. CASTLE CHEETAH was favourite at Garthorpe and led until faltering two out, before falling early on at Larkhill. SCARLOUISE will carry the same colours this year.

JEANS LADY faces an uphill struggle to make her name known in the pointing ranks. She ran 13 times for Martin Keighley with third place in a Stratford Hurdle the best of those efforts and he fitness will be tested as she has been off the course for a couple of years.

AMADOUE is 5-years-old and could be described as one of the lesser lights of Tom Laceys stable, although he did manage a couple of minor placings and has subsequently passed into the hands of the trainers father.

LUCY HAMMOND – CIRENCESTER

The Hammond family have been part of the local Point-to-Point and N.H. scene for several decades first as a riders, then as a trainers.

A gallops injury forced Mike to give up training but he assures us that he will still be seen around local meetings. His daughter Lucy is currently studying at the RAU in Cirencester and has taken her pointer LOST LEGEND with her.

She is able to make us of their gallop and admits she is lucky to have such a brilliant horse who came to her having spent most of his career with Jonjo O’Neill at Jackdaws Castle. He proved a most consistent performer and his last outing was when finishing third at Warwick in September 2017.

He is being aimed at the new meeting at Eaton Hall, Leominster on Saturday 24th November. Lucy admits studies have to come first, but hopes to continue riding for Laura Hurley and Sarah Jayne Davies.

Hammond snr and owner Don Constable were a formidable combination over the years, but following the formers retirement Constable still has a couple of horses in training with Heidi Brookshaw.

These include the home bred DARANOVA, who is a half brother to Snuff Box who won under Rules for Venetia Williams, and a 3-YEAR-OLD ARCADIO FILLY AND A HALF SISTER TO LE CHEVAL NOIR who won an Irish Point to Point earlier this year.

JAKE SLATTER – TODDINGTON

BALLY RIVER BOY was a star for Jake Slatters Toddington yard. His previous form had been a bit hit and miss, but the Slatter soon found the key and the horse went on to win three races (including a Fontwell Hunter Chase) and was placed on 2 other occasions. He pulled up a Stratford but that was probably the case of going to the well too often.

Bally River Boy improved rapidly when joining Jake Slatters yard

Connection are hopeful that ARE THEY YOUR OWN will return from injury but admit there is a long road ahead. He has a preference for firmer ground and shorter distances so is unlikely to be out until the spring.

MAX COMLEY – RENDCOMB

Rendcomb Hill Equestrian was established over the summer by Max Comley and his partner Beth George to cover all aspects of equestrian activities.

First season trainer Max Comley 

Max retired last year after taking the West Midland Area Leading Novice Rider Title following a constant battle with his weight over the preceding three seasons, but given his varied background it was natural that Point-to-Point training would figure in his skill set.

Many people will recall that KNOCKADERRY FLYER won 2 out of his 3 races including a Cheltenham Hunter Chase when trained by Lucy King. He then ran under Rules for David Shorey but was pulled up at Aintree and Ffos Las. He was subsequently brought by Comley who has leased him to the “Jump on Board syndicate”. “He is not the most straight forward horse to train, but he is a lovely big chasing type who has done every right so far” commented the trainer.

He joins TINELYRA who ran creditably at Cheltenham and Andoversford and connections are hoping that he can finally get his head in front.

JOHNNY’S LEGACY’S owner Richard Barlow decided that he might benefit from a change of scenery. The trainer likes what he has seen so far and is hoping to provide Barlow with his first winner as an owner.

JULIE MANSELL – HASFIELD

The old saying “Everything comes to those who wait” certainly proved true for trainer Julie Mansell last season.

JOEY KANGAROO had looked useful when winning at the Heythrop a few years ago, but several problems meant he was unable to show his true potential since then.

After finishing second over 2-1/2 miles at Edgcote a return visit to that course provided his first success of the season and as a result of that victory connections thought they had nothing to lose at Umberleigh on the final day of the season. 3-miles and the firmer conditions proved right up his street and resulted in another victory.

FINDLAYS FIND also blossomed under the spring sun and the trainer found an easy race for the 12-year-old during the Clifton on Teme meeting at Knightwick. He did not beat much that day but showed his well-being and made a gallant effort by finishing second in a Cheltenham Hunter Chase. The hardened old campaigner then brought up Dave Mansell’s 200th winner at Chaddesley Corbett in late May.

Golden Oldie Dave Mansell celebrates his 200th winner

George Daly is at the other end of the scale and has enjoyed considerable success in Pony Racing but success between the flags continued to prove elusive. He had a willing partner in SACRE TOI who finished runner up to the prolific winning Pointer William Money at Chaddesley but that was the best of his 8 efforts between the flags.

The Daly’s have added another string to their sons bow with the acquisition of MURRAY MOUNT from Henry Oliver. The 8-year-old has won or been placed in 10 of his 26 efforts over the bigger obstacles including a Worcester Hurdle in September 2018.

CELTIC INTRIGUE had good form between the flags when owned by the Barlow’s back in 2015, then won three races on the trot for David Bridgwater. He will provide invaluable experience for Sam Brown who will be having his first rides this season.

MAGHERAL EXPRESS joins the yard from Kerry Lee. On recent evidence he has struggled under Rules so may find the drop into Points beneficial.

TOR COLLINS – BROADWAY

The West Midlands is the new base for Tor Collins who is based in a yard near Broadway as she hunts for a suitable property.

She has 5 horses which are all owned by her long standing and loyal owner Sarah Dawson. These include QUEEN OLIVIA who was placed on three occasions last year with the trainer “delighted with the way she ran so consistently despite probably needing better ground. The plan is to start between the flags and graduate to Hunter Chases with the Mares Final at Cheltenham the eventual goal.

SYBARITE was retired last year after three listless runs which left connections disappointed and baffled by his performances. They thought there must be an underlying issue which was confirmed by the vets. He is now back in training and is pencilled in for a return in late January. If he returns to form it won’t be the first time he has defied his critics.

DOUBLE CLOVER is a 5-year-old home bred who ran twice in JRL sponsored Flat Races at Hereford Racecourse and Bitterley. He will start off in another of these races but better things are expected when he is tested over 3-miles.

MILBOROUGH was purchased during the summer having pulling up on four out of his last five outings. Connections are delighted how he is going at present and are hoping a busy autumn hunting schedule and the drop to point-to-points will result in a major improvement.

The quintet is completed by a 4-YEAR-OLD FILLY BY GOLDWELL out of a sister to Queen Olivia, who they hope will be able to squeeze in a couple of races before the season is finished.

CHARLIE DANDO – CHIPPING SODBURY

Things have been busy at the Dando yard where the inmates include KIT BARRY who was responsible for Dando’s emotional come back win at Barbury after his shooting accident.

David and Charlie Dando in the winners enclosure at Barbury

LOODEEN was second behind a Lacey hotpot at Larkhill before falling at Charlton Horthorne. He was leading when suffering the same fate at Badbury Rings and could be a force to be reckoned with if those errors can be sorted out.

BRASS IN POCKET was placed on two occasions last year, while the stable has an interesting newcomer in EVERYBODY’S TALKIN. The son of Robin de Champs won an Irish Maiden and was sold for £65,000 at Cheltenham Sales straight afterwards. He ran five times under Rules for Nigel Twiston Davies before being sold for a fraction of the price 12 months later.

Connections also have a 5-YEAR-OLD BY APPLE TREE which they are hoping will make the grade.

SUE BRITTEN – COMBERTON

ORANGE NASSAU and TOOWOMBA have been getting ready for the new season with steady work up Bredon Hill and that will ensure their fitness. Connections are in no hurry to start them early as both prefer softer ground, so look out for them when conditions are testing.

Both will be ridden by the trainers son Tom who is on a gap year before taking his place at the RAU in Cirencester. He is currently based with Nicky Henderson and that is bound to have enhanced his race riding skills.

JASON WARNER – BROOKTHORPE

Jason Warner has guided the fortunes of the Cotswold Vale Farmers Point-to-Point for over a decade. He was responsible for the introduction of the Novice and Veteran riders races at Andoversford, and the creation of the Vale Country Fair which helped pull in bigger crowds.

This meeting moves to Maisemore Park next April and it will be interesting to see if this has a positive effect.

Jason Warner – hard working secretary of the Cotswold Vale Farmers meeting

KEEN EYE finished second on two occasions when last seen in 2017 and is being aimed at a Restricted, whilst MR BURGEES ran in 7 points last year but never finished better than 5th.

MISTER DICK ran 9 times and judged on those efforts looks a little one paced. He put in his best effort when beating the odds on favourite William Money in the Mixed Open at Andoversford, but was subsequently disqualified after missing a marker at halfway.

LONG MILE ROAD finished second to Another Drama at Lower Machen and is capable of winning a Maiden at the very least. NOT AT ALL has had 9 runs under Rules for Jonjo O’Neill and was odds on favourite when finishing second on his debut in a Southwell Bumper.

ITALIAN SYMPHONY last outing was in 2014 so a watching brief is suggested until signs of a revival are forthcoming. BENEFICIAL JOE won a Uttoxeter Hurdle in 2017 but was pulled up twice over fences after that. Having failed to make his mark over the bigger obstacles he is given the chance to make amends.

MIKE HAWKER – CHIPPENHAM

Mike enjoyed tremendous success with Sheknowsyouknow and WheresMySlave a few years ago and is now preparing two of their offspring.

LEMONADE DRINKER a five year old out of Sheknowsyouknow has had one run when finishing a tailed off last in a Wincanton bumper. Hopefully he will have inherited some of his dam’s ability and be able to show it before the season is over.

BETTY BATTENS is also 5-year-olds old but without racecourse experience and may need that before showing her best.

MORTENS LEAM won a 2-mile 5 furlong chase for Pam Sly last year and went up the handicap as a result of that victory. Although he has never run over 3-miles Hawker will probably run him in Points to avoid him having to give lumps of weight away to his rivals under Rules.

KIM SMYLY – STANTON

 Kim Smyly is all smiles at Andoversford

The Smyly horses are always turned out immaculately which resulted in Kim taking the Area’s Leading Groom Award in 2017/2018. She has a couple of newcomers for the new campaign which include I’M ALWAYS TRYING.

The 5-year-old was purchased by Paul and Claire Rooney at Goffs Land Rover Sales in 2016. He had several runs for David Pipe before transferring to Dan Skelton who managed to win a Fontwell Hurdle with him, but he disappointed when odds-on on his next outing.

The Smyly’s also have an un-named and un-raced 4-year-old who is related to that smart staying chaser Harry Topper who may be worth keeping an eye on.

 

SELL OUT AT WEST MIDLAND AREA AWARDS

The 2017/18 Point-to-Point season tested everyone’s perseverance but despite those challenges it proved a very successful year for West Midlands representatives with Phil Rowley, Alex Edwards and Alice Stevens all winning National recognition for their achievements.

The attendance of  owners/trainers/riders/officials/volunteers and enthusiasts ensured our own Awards event at Cheltenham Racecourse on 30th June was a sell out and enable them to celebrate with the individual Award winners.

With Rhys Jenkins as M.C. and Matt Shepperd presenting the prizes the evening proved a major success with multiple auction lots helping to swell the coffers which meant an immediate donation of £500 was made to Ed Bailey, Ed Henderson, Zac Baker and Hugh Nugent who swopped four legs for two wheels by cycling to all 26 Irish racecourses to raise money for the Injured Jockeys’ Fund and Mind, the mental health charity. Further donations can be made via: –https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?pageId=930107

The Fisher German Award for the Leading Gentleman Rider went to Alex Edwards who was following up his 2017 success. He looks set to follow in the footsteps of Julian Pritchard and Mark Wall by becoming a multiple winner of this prestigious Award. He was chased home by James King and Tommie O’Brien.

Alex Edwards receives the Fisher German sponsored Leading Male Rider Award from Matt Shepperd

Ally Stirling has ridden in the Area for a number of years but her previous RQC’s have precluded her from qualifying for the Fisher German sponsored Ladies Championship.

That changed this year and she took an early lead and saw off the challenges of Abbi Banks, her sister Josephine and Emma Yardley. Her intention was to retire from race riding at the end of the season so has gone out at the top.

Ally Stirling goes out on a high by taking the Fisher German sponsored Ladies Championship

Carpet Gallop sponsored both Novice Riders prizes this season. The Men’s version went to Max Comley who hit the front following an accumulation of points at the Cotswold Vale Farmers meeting and saw him hold on from Tom Britten and George Daly.

Max also announced his decision to retire from race riding after battling with weight problems. His statement sums up the sport. “It’s been great fun and I’ve made some amazing friends and met some inspirational people along the way”.

Max Comley receives his Carpet Gallop sponsor Award for the Leading Male Novice Rider

The Ladies prize went to Emma Yardley for the second season in succession, but she had to see off strong challenges from Alice Stevens and Lucy Hammond. The highlight of the season for Yardley was Foxcub’s success at Cheltenham.

Emma Yardley picks up her Carpet Gallop prize for the Leading Lady Novice Rider

Phil Rowley was always in a good position to land his first National Trainers Title and the Morville handler did well to hold off Alan Hill’s late surge. Rowley has shown the ability to rejuvenate the careers of ex-chasers as well as providing vital education to youngsters making their racecourse appearances. Rowley won the Cheltenham Racecourse Leading Trainer title back in 2013 but this year faced stiff opposition from Sam Jukes, Diana Ralph and Jason Warner.                      

Phil Rowley receives the Cheltenham Racecourse Leading Trainer Award, which will sit alongside the National Award he picks up in November

A solitary success in a Croome Maiden in May was sufficient for Graham and David Fishers Dina Maker to take the Leading Mares award at the expense of Cecile de Volanges and Maybe Plenty.

David Fisher receives the Leading Mare Award following the exploits of Dina Maker

Jason Warner’s Brookthorpe Taylor started the season as a Maiden but continued to rack up points throughout the season but in the end just had a point to spare over Well Mett as they vied to become the Area’s Leading Horse, while Battle Dust, Findlays Find and Marcle Ridge were all snapping at their heels.

Jason Warner (centre) on his way on where he collected the Leading Horse Award with Brookthorpe Taylor

For most of the season it looked as though Ballyriver Boy would end up as the Leading Novice Horse, but he had to give way to Clive Bennetts Marcle Ridge who took the title following two victories at Chaddesley Corbett in May.

Christine Banks won the Small Trainer Award for a second year thanks to the exploits of Well Mett and Round Robin, with Jake Slatter a worthy runner up, and she also took the Leading Owner/Trainer/Rider Title with Well Mett.

Christine Banks picked up two awards – the small trainer and leading owner/trainer/rider trophy

Trainer Kim Smyly is responsible for the turn out of the horses at her Stanton yard. This year she gained 6 individual Awards in the area which enabled her to hold the late challenge of Michaela Tallett who has won this title several times in the past.

The Elm School provides prizes for Novice Riders at each area meetings, with the winners then eligible for the Annual Award. As always, there were some worthy contenders for this prize which eventually went to Lucy Hammond, who had to overcome considerable difficulties before gaining her riders licence. She rode her first winner on Shuker at Andoversford in April.

Lucy Hammond picks up the Elm School Novice Riders Award

The Dairy Partnership West Midland Open Race Championship went right down to the wire. Battle Dust led for a majority of the season and looked to have the prize in safe keeping but success for Wes Hardin at the final Chaddesley meeting resulted in the prize being shared between these two worthy recipients.

Top picture – Phil Rowley and Bohemia Houghton share the Dairy Partnerships West Midland Open Race Championship

2nd picture – Belinda Palfrey (2nd right) pictured on her way in where she received the Area Achievement Award on behalf of the Clifton on Teme who succeeded in getting their Point-to-Point up and running within a short period of time

3rd picture – the driving forces behind the West Midlands Area – Nickie Shepperd, Jim Squires and Tania Taylor

4th picture – This is how to celebrate winning!

All pictures courtesy of Graham Fisher and Tania Taylor

2 LOCAL WINNERS AT UMBERLEIGH AND A NATIONAL TITLE FOR ALICE STEVENS

The 2017/2018 season ended on a high note for West Midland qualified horses who chalked up two winners at the final fixture of what has been a very trying season.

With firm ground prevalent at the Torrington Farmers fixture at Umberleigh, it was hard to believe wet weather reeked havoc with fixtures earlier in the year.

Many local enthusiasts made their annual pilgrimage to the North Devon coast and  did not have to wait long for their first winner when Big Man Doe obliged under Zac Baker.

The Men’s Open saw the Martin Wanless trained runner backed into favouritism and he set the pace from the start and was obviously relishing the conditions.

Mr Sawyer hit the front at the open ditch and led the field up the final hill, but that effort meant he stopped quickly at the second from home. Zac Baker seized back the initiative and was 15-lengths clear at the post.

Big Man Doe and Zac Baker fly the last to land the Mens Open

Wanless reported later “He came from Ireland and will now be turned away for the summer with the aim of Pointing again next year. He needs this ground he won’t go on the soft”.

The last few weeks of the season have provided rich pickings for Julie Mansell’s Hasfield stable and after Joey Kangaroo had won so convincingly at Edgcote  connections decided it was worthwhile making the long journey to Devon.

The local bookmakers were in a generous mood as the Ledbury qualified runner opened at 2-1 but punters seized on these odds and backed Joey Kangaroo into 4/6 on favourite for the four runner Intermediate.

Mansell was content to let others cut out the donkey work but began a forward move up the final hill and caught and then passed the long time leader Kinlochspelve at the second from home.

The evergreen Dave Mansell steers Joey Kangaroo to victory at Umberleigh

Joey Kangaroo gained the inside berth around the final bend and held a narrow advantage at the last but quickened clear of his rival on the run to the judge.

Mansell finished the season by clocking up his 202nd winner and like stablemate Findlays Find, patience has proved the key to this horses success. “We bought him out of Ascot sales, have had a few issues with him and he has needed time to mature”.

The Ladies Open provided a winner opportunity for 19-year-old Alice Stevens and she grabbed it with both hands. She started the afternoon as joint leader with Isabel Williams in the Fullers National Novice Ladies Title, and she set out to make every post a winning one on Rendezvous Peak.

The partnership succeeded in doing so making all the running never being headed which resulted in a 6-lengths win and also the title.

Alice Stevens and Rendezvous Peak are well clear at the last

Stevens holds a Croome and West Warwickshire riders certificate had to wait until early April before she rode her first winner of the season. She enjoyed a purple patch after her Knightwick success and rode 8 winners in the last 8 weeks of the season.

Alice is all smiles after landing the Fullers Title

“I cannot believe it but after Heated Debate won at Cold Harbour, Fran said ‘Let’s give the novice title a go’.

LOCAL SUCCESSES AT STRATFORD

Many congratulations to Hannah Gregory who took the Skinners Ladies Point-to-Point Championship Final in the hands of his owner/trainer/rider.

The Cotswold Vale Farmers qualified gelding was fifth as they came over the mound with half a mile to run but caught the tiring leader Sedgemoor Express at the last and stayed on strongly to provide his supporters with a 25-1 success

Owen Glendower (nearside) takes the lead at the last

Ryan Potter already has a Cheltenham winner to his CV and he was desperately unlucky not to land the White Swan Hotel Hunter Chase on Friday evening with Brave Jaq. The 7-year-old was given an enterprising ride by Bradley Gibbs and looked to have an unbeatable lead on the home turn, but was caught and passed in the final 25 yards by Robin des People.

Brave Jaq is clear at the last but was unable to stand the late run of Robin Des People

Mervyn Jones’s Master Sunrise is a model of consistency and he once again showed this trait by finishing runner up in the prestigious John Corbett Champion Novices Hunter Chase under James King.

 

Master Sunrise (yellow) on his way to second place in the John Corbett

 

MANSELL’S EXPERIENCE PREVAILS AT EDGCOTE

Anyone down by the start of the 2 mile 5 furlong Restricted at Edgcote on Sunday afternoon, could see several jockeys were preoccupied with getting away quickly, while the more experienced Dave Mansell and Bryan Moorcroft offered their perspective on what was obviously going to be a strong early pace.

Their advice fell on deaf ears because as soon as the starter dropped his flag there was a rush to the front. Both Mansell and Moorcroft ignored the break neck pace over the first mile and were soon some away adrift, but common sense eventually prevailed and the pace settled, and they both began to make up ground coming into the home straight.

Joey Kangaroo was 6-lengths behind as they passed the 3-mile start. Mansell had kicked on at this point at the Grafton meeting but was unable to last home. He had obviously learnt from that experience, because he delayed his challenge until leading just before the final bend.

A study on concentration as Dave Mansell and Joey Kangaroo lead Well Said (red and white) and Just Skittles at the third from home

Joey Kangaroo held a 4-length advantage at the third from home and was clear until hitting the top of the penultimate obstacle. That sent him sideways but he was soon back on an even keel and had the race in safekeeping at the last and proved far too strong for Just Skittles on the run in.

The winner is trained by the rider’s wife Julie at Hasfield and carries the colours of the Farmers Arms Syndicate from Birtsmorton, who have had to be patient with the 8-year-old who has not won since Cocklebarrow back in 2016.

Dave Mansell is one of the more senior jockeys on the Point-to-Point circuit having recorded his 200th winner at Chaddesley Corbett recently but is riding as well as ever and his experience and tactical awareness bore fruit on this occasion.

Ramble On started favourite for the Mixed Open, but support for the Phil Rowley trained Aupcharlie saw him replace the Welsh runner at the head of the market.

Aupcharlie had been placed four times for Michaela Tallett, but Alex Edwards was trusted with the ride on this occasion, and punters decided that could be a crucial factor.

Pantxoa and Smadynium set a strong pace but the favourite looked in trouble passing the judge for the final time, as he was getting reminders which were not having the desired effect.

A circuit to go and Pantoxa (left) leads with Aupcharlie (red and white) still some way behind

Edwards’s mount was having trouble laying up and while he lost no more ground he was not making any impression on the leading group.

At the last and Ramble On (red and white hoops) and Aupcharlie (breastgirth) get ready to fight out the finish

Just when all seemed lost, Aupcharlie began to respond to his rider’s urgings and they slowly staged a revival to give their supporters hope. Ramble On’s 2-length lead at the penultimate had been whittled away and the two horses were inseparable at the last.

Ramble On (left) refuses to let his rival past

Having got himself into a race winning position, most people expected Aupcharlie to prevail but he could not deliver the coup de grace and Ramble On eventually won by half a length.

Still to close to call but Ramble On (left) got the verdict by half a length

This was the Rowley’s only runner at the meeting but with Edward’s major rival Will Biddick failing to score at Bratton Down and with Alan Hill running out of time to close the gap on his opponent in the trainer’s title it appears the West Midland pairing have one hand on their respective National Championships.

There was a local winner at Garthorpe the previous day when Zac Baker teamed up with Martin and Jane Wanless’s North Cotswold qualified Big Man Doe to take the Conditions. The 6-year-old son of Millenary took the lead from the start and made all to claim victory by two and a half lengths at 20-1.

Big Man Doe and Zac Baker lead the field at Garthorpe

Local jockey Alice Stevens took the Intermediate on the Fran Nimmo trained Heated Debate and helped her draw level with Isabel Williams in the race to become the Leading Female Novice Rider.

Max Young’s Green Winter was favourite for the Mixed Open and did well to get within 4-lengths of the winner Proximo to whom he was conceding 9lbs and on a course that would not have played to his strengths.

JOCKEYS TITLE IS WITHIN EDWARDS’S GRASP

Time is running out for the opposition as Alex Edwards is 12 wins clear of Will Biddick with just three weekends remaining before the season closes at Umberleigh on 16th June.

While it may be mathematically possible for Biddick (the champion for the last 6 seasons) to prevent the local rider from claiming his first National Title, in reality he faces an almost impossible task to stop him from doing so.

Edwards has already secured his second Area Title but to win his first National Championship surpasses anything he has achieved in his career thus far. The Bridgnorth based jockey has really come to the fore over the last couple of seasons and owes a debt of gratitude to trainer Phil Rowley who has provided him with the bulk of his winners.

Rowley is locked in a major battle with Oxfordshire based Alan Hill for the Trainers Title. The former came into the holiday weekend 6 wins clear of his rival and the status quo remained unchanged on Monday evening.

Rowley saddled Bears Affair in the Men’s Open but there is no such thing as a racing certainty even though his form was head and shoulders above that of his solitary rival Drumhart. For the first half of the race things went to plan but the favourite was passed by his rival who put in a much quicker jump at the 12th.

Drumhart held a 2-length advantage as they turned into the home straight and piled on the pressure to go further clear between the final two fences, but having been foot perfect up to that point, he hardly rose at the last and that left the door open for his opponent.

James King does well to survive Drumharts mistake at the last, but Bears Affair was much closer at the post

James King did well to maintain the partnership but his mount was coming to the end of his tether and Bears Affairs started to reduce the deficit, but the leader clung on bravely to prevail by three quarters of a length.

The winner has taken some time to find his form this season and was not without support as he carries the well-known colours of Pat Tollit.

Having suffered this setback to their Title chances, the scales tipped in favour of Rowley and Edwards in the Conditions when the favourite Rockinrolldixie who had been fractious in the pre-race preliminaries dug in his heels as the starter dropped his flag and refused to race.

With this major obstacle removed from the equation, Sam Jukes set a steady pace on The Well Road and they led until challenged by Sulu Magic and Teeton Kato after the third from home.

Sulu Magic (blue and white) has a clear advantage over Teeton Kato (yellow and green) and The Well Road between the final two fences

Sulu Magic took the lead between the final two fences but The Well Road and Teeton Kato fought their way back into contention approaching the last where the three horses rose in unison. The Well Road was sandwiched between his rivals but whether that contributed to his fall is debatable but his departure allowed Sulu Magic to see off his remaining rival’s challenge on the flat.

It was much closer at the last where all three horses landed together – The Well Road (pink) is in the process of falling

Dymock based owner Clive Bennett and jockey Sam Jukes gained compensation 35 minutes later following Marcle Ridge’s pillar to post victory in the Restricted. Again, their path to victory was eased when their chief market rival Stay out of Court was withdrawn on veterinary advice at the start.

Marcle Ridge had caught every one’s eye with the manner of his victory over this course two weeks earlier. That race was over 2-1/2 miles while this race was over three, but connections were confident of his staying powers because he went to the front from the start.

He made a couple of novicey errors but kept up a relentless gallop and for three quarters of the trip held a 4-length advantage over his nearest pursuers. This had been extended to 12-lengths on the final bend but Jacks Ranger, Snow Puma and Teeton Turnip suddenly began to eat into his advantage and with the gap being significantly reduced it was feared his front running tactics may have taken their toll.

Marcle Ridge looks an exciting prospect for next season as he jumps the last

Jukes was toying with his rivals because he asked his mount to lengthen his stride, got an instantaneous response and they put the race to bed in a matter of strides.

Jacks Ranger and Mark Wilesmith plough through the last

Jacks Ranger was secure in second place when he departed at the last and that allowed Marcle Ridge to claim victory by 15-lengths.

Sam Jukes and owner Clive Bennett in the winners enclosure alongside Marcle Ridge and groom Lucy Biddlecombe – the owners picks up yet another trophy

After early season disappointments connections have now found the way to ride him, and it will be interesting to see what he does in the future. “He’s a machine “said Jukes later “It’s scary he is so fast and takes you there so easily. He can be a bit novicey but can only get better”.

Rowley and Edwards were fancied to take the concluding Maiden with Milzipa, but frustratingly had to settle for the runners up spot behind the Jo Priest trained Swiss Heights.

The 9-year-old had finished in the runners up spot on his last course visit but went one better in the hands of Zac Baker. Round Robin led for most of the journey but was joined by Swiss Heights and Milzipa with half a mile to run.

Zac Baker and Swiss Heights take the Maiden 

There was not much between the leading pair approaching the penultimate which the leader met on a perfect stride whereas Milzipa blundered away his chance and that handed the advantage to Priests Upton-upon-Severn trained gelding.

The Ladies Open resulted in a surprise victory for Bohemia Houghton on Wes Hardin. Patricktom Boru and Watch the Birdie were both well fancied and the race was run at a breakneck speed from the start.

Argot and Patricktom Boru vied for the lead and were 8-lengths clear with half a mile to run, but Wes Hardin began to make up ground and his owner/trainer/rider timed her run to perfection challenging between the final two fences and having 3-lengths to spare as they passed the post.

Wes Hardin and Bohemia Houghton (right) cruise past Patricktom Boru at the last to take the Ladies Open

In the Mares Maiden Squeaky showed her rivals a clean pair of heels to land the prize under James Martin, while Connor Brace steered the favourite William Money to an easy victory in the Novice Riders Race.

Top picture – Nickie Sheppard receives the prize for winning the Halls Chaddesley Championship from Roger Sadler representing the sponsors

Jen Hancock (left) and Diana Williams (right) alongside retiring Meeting Secretary Corinne Swarbrick with a token of their appreciation

RESULTS

NOVICE RIDERS

1ST           WILLIAM MONEY                               C BRACE                               4-9 FAV

2ND         GLORY HUNT

3RD          BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

MENS OPEN

1ST           DRUMHART                                        J KING                                  9-4

2ND         BEARS AFFAIR

(ONLY 2 RAN)

LADIES OPEN

1ST           WES HARDIN                                      MISS B HOUGHTON            7-1

2ND         PATRICKTOM BORU

3RD          AUPCHARLIE

CONDITIONS

1ST           SULU MAGIC                                      A EDWARDS                        3-1

2ND         TEETON KATO

3RD          MINELLA ARTS

RESTRICTED

1ST           MARCLE RIDGE                                   S JUKES                                2-1

2ND         SNOW PUMA

3RD          TEETON TURNIP

MARES MAIDEN

1ST           SQUEAKY                                            J MARTIN                             9-4

2ND         KINGTHORNE

3RD          SPARKLE AGAIN

MAIDEN

1ST           SWISS HEIGHTS                                  Z BAKER                               4-1

2ND         MILZIPA

3RD          ROUND ROBIN

Phil Rowley and Alan Hill had matched one another’s exploits at Kingston Blount 24 hours earlier. Rowley was the first to strike went he saddled Pique Rock in the Intermediate. Always prominent he led from the 12th and ran on strongly when challenged to get the better of Hill’s representative Allie Beag.

The tables were turned in the following race when the Izzy Marshall ridden For “N” Against went past Namako on the run in to claim the Open prize.

Clive Bennett, Sam Jukes and Uppertown Hawk had scored at the previous Cothelstone fixture and returned to the scene of that triumph on Sunday afternoon and repeated the tactics which had proved successful in their previous race, making virtually all the running and finishing 3-lengths clear of their rivals in the Mixed Open.

Rhein du Tout was previously with Mark and Axelle Wall and thus qualified with the Cotswold but is now trained by Charlotte Budd. He finally came good in a Cothelstone Maiden where he led from three out and saw off all challengers in the home straight.

On Friday evening, the Mary Gwillam Special Birthday Hunter Chase was won by Christine Banks’s Arthurs Secret who has been raced sparingly so far this season but had no difficulty seeing of his rivals at the Pitchcroft.

A murky Friday at Worcester Racecourse which provided an impressive win for Arthurs Secret

PHOTO’S COURTESY OF GRAHAM FISHER AND PETE MANSELL

WEEKLY ROUND-UP

The season is drawing to a close so the past week has been one of the quieter periods as far as West Midland winners are concerned.

The Area did enjoy some success during last week’s meeting at Cothelstone, and this was followed by victories for local horses and jockeys at Thursday’s Hunter Chase fixture at Fontwell.

Uppertown Hawk has been raced sparingly so far this season due to his preference for firmer conditions but he is always a force to be reckoned when the ground is in his favour.

Shantou Tiger was installed as favourite for the Weston & Banwell Harriers Men’s Open but Sam Jukes knows what tactics work with Uppertown Hawk so he sent him to the front soon after the start and they were 20-lengths clear at one point.

The favourite started to fell the strain four fences from home and with Uppertown Hawk showing no signs of stopping and throwing in some prodigious leaps, Clive Bennetts runner saw off the challenges of Mont Choisy and Miteballforluck in the home straight.

Uppertown Hawk wins the Mens Open with a fine leap at the last, while his rival Mount Choisy is less fluent (photo courtesy of Tim Sage)

The second division of the Maiden went to the Sophie Lacey trained 4-year-old, Enchancia who like a majority of the stables runners in these races headed the market. Despite making his racecourse debut he settled in the middle of the field but was being driven along to stay in touch at the third from home.

The partnership continued to reel in their rivals in the straight and quickened past them on the flat for an easy win.

The Ladies’ Open saw the Maisemore winner Bankhall prevail from Western Diva and Ni Sin E Mo Ainm. The first two had stolen a march on their rival on the home turn and Bankhall looked set for third place until outstaying the opposition on the run to the line. Jockey Emma Jones who is based with Matt and Nickie Sheppard at Eastnor explained afterwards “everyone wanted to make the running, so I just tried to keep out of trouble”.

Western Diva (pink) leads Bankhall in the Ladies Open (photo courtesy of Tim Sage)

The following evening at Fontwell, Upton on Severn based Emma Yardley teamed up with Steven Astaire’s Andoversford winner Kimora to take the Mares Hunter Chase. The partnership hit the front with two to jump and stayed on bravely to repel the challenge of the favourite as they raced towards the judge.

Those who had seen Bally River Boy’s performance at Maisemore Park earlier in the week and played up their winnings were rewarded after the horses victory in the Guy Peate Hunter Chase.

It is fair to say this success was down to a brilliant piece of riding from Ally Stirling who performed wonders to maintain the partnership when she lost an iron and the horse went left at the course junction after the 6th.

They were soon back on even keel and just had sufficient reserves to see off the challenge of Just Cause in the home straight.

Miss Stirling has spoken about retiring at the end of the season and if so she will go out on a high as she appears to have an unassailable lead in the West Midland Area Ladies Championship.

The area enjoyed a solitary success during the Golden Valley fixture at Bredwardine on Saturday afternoon and that came courtesy of Bill Hawkins’s Rockinrolldixie in the Conditions.

Alex Edwards was content to let others cut out the donkey work, before taking his mount to the front at the 12th. They soon established a winning lead and had the race in safe keeping between the final two fences. The Diana Ralph trained gelding won easily despite being eased right down on the flat.

Rockinrolldixie and Alex Edwards score an easy win in the Conditions

The owner said afterwards “the ground is the key to that win” and he must be right because the horse has shown vastly improved form since conditions have dried up.

Owner Bill Hawkins picks up the silverware

Droitwich trainer Max Young had a day of mixed fortunes with Green Winter dropping off the pace down the back straight in the Mens Open. Zac Baker never gave up and Green Winter kept responding and was closing on Pink Eyed Pedro in the home straight but was still half a length adrift at the post.

Half way in the Mens Open and Green Winter (stripped colours) is well to the fore along with the eventual winner Pink Eyed Pedro (black and red). The wing is falling apart after Pantxoa ducked out and deposited Jacob Pritchard Webb on the ground

Owner Sarah Oliver gained compensation later in the afternoon after Black Frosts win in the Maiden. He too dropped off the pace at the 12th but made up ground to contest the lead a few fences later and gaining a well-deserved success on his racecourse debut.

Black Frost eases clear of the favourite Orchard Lane on the flat – winning connections in the paddock

Round Robin added another placed effort to his tally in the concluding Maiden. He led until passed by the favourite Free Scorpion at the 15th and one again had his limitations exposed at the finish.

Local stables gained a couple of placed efforts during the Grafton fixture at Edgecote, but in both cases the horses efforts may have been thwarted by inconsistences in the watering policy.

Joey Kangaroo looked as though he was going to cause a surprise in the Intermediate when he hit the front at the 12th, but softer conditions on this part of the course followed by a steady climb over the final three fences, gave the favourite Benefit of Luck a chance to put his stamina to good use and he passed his rival over the final two fences.

Joey Kangaroo and Dave Mansell have to give best to Benefit of Luck as they climb towards the judge

Geoff Barfoot Saunt and First Goodnight were another partnership who found conditions more testing than they were expecting and they were also found out on the climb to the post.

Geoff Barfoot Saunt and First Goodnight (green) are poised on the leaders heels at half way

Thomas Murray and Gabriel the Great had beaten Magic Music Man by 30-lengths at Bitterley but challenged by Loch Inch from the start this pairing may have cut one another’s throats because neither had anything left in reserve when Alex Edwards produced Magic Music Man to claim the spoils during the closing stages of the Mixed Open at Tabley.

 

 

150 ENTRIES FOR SEASONAL FINALE AT CHADDESLEY CORBETT

The West Midland season starts at Chaddesley Corbett in December and 6 months later it finishes at the same venue. The course is always expertly maintained and an entry of 150 for the 7-race programme is testament to that fact.

Some of those entered are keen to gain points for their respective Area Championships and the eventual winners will not become clear until after the final race at this meeting but Bridgnorth trainer Phil Rowley and jockey Alex Edwards have bigger fish to fry because both currently hold the lead in the Foran Equine Products Trainers Championship and Fullers Jockeys Championship, which takes their status to the national stage.

With the season drawing to a close Edwards holds a healthy lead over reigning champion Will Biddick in the race for the Riders Title. After Mondays meeting just three weekends remain so it would need a dramatic turn round in Biddick’s fortunes to prevent the local rider from securing his first National championship.

Rowley is pulling out all the stops to help the rider achieve that ambition, but it also help him consolidate his position in the Trainers Championship. He is 6 wins clear going into this weekend’s fixtures but that gap is bridgeable and may go right down to the wire.

The meeting starts with the Novice Riders at 1-30 pm, where Aupcharlie is tasked with providing Michaela Tallett with her first success. The jockey is seen as an integral part of Rowley’s Popular Court stables, but that first winner is proving very elusive as the partnership have been runners up on all three outings this season.

They have been unlucky to come up against some useful horses and unfortunately for them that is likely to be the case on Monday, because Aerlite Supreme and William Money are going to be very difficult nuts to crack. It is coming to the end of a long and testing season and surprises at this stage of the campaign are not uncommon, but unlikely.

Rowley and Edwards have a close association but when the situation allows the jockey teams up with other trainers including Diana Ralph and that could pay dividends in the closing weeks of the season.

Entries for the Men’s Open include the Rowley trained Bears Affair who is likely to start a warm favourite but if he fails to meet his engagement Edwards could renew his partnership with Drumhart who fought out a close finish with Againn Dul Aghaidh at the last meeting. They meet on level terms whereas Drumhart was conceding weight to his rival when they last met.

Ralph has also entered Old Pride, while Argot and Jimmy the Jetplane are others to note as is Teeton Kato who will be steeping up in class.

Namako has won his last two races for the Rowley/Edwards axis, but the horse has alternative engagements over the weekend so Edwards has the chance to team up with last weekends winner Rockinrolldixie.

The warmer weather has seen a dramatic transformation in this horse’s fortunes as he followed his win at Maisemore Park with another impressive performance at Bredwardine and with current conditions in his favour it will take a good one to lower his colours.

The Alan Hill trained Hawkhurst is the one they all have to beat, while Kit Barry looks a useful performer based on his Cheltenham run. The Well Road is another for the short list as is Mirs Choice who chased home the Bennett runner at Cold Harbour.

It is difficult to look beyond Arthurs Secret in the Ladies Open, although he holds an entry for a Worcester Hunter Chase on Friday evening and that may be the preference.

Local hopes rest with Maybe Plenty and Well Mett, but they will find it difficult to live with Patricktom Boru and Watch the Birdie who revel in prevailing conditions and both will be difficult to peg back.

24 horses have been entered for the Restricted including Golanzine who would have won at Knightwick but for a last fence mistake. He has been beaten since but the course and conditions should play to his strengths.

Gadrose may need another season to show her best, but that does not mean she cannot win the Restricted and add to Rowley and Edwards tally. Soft ground was blamed for her disappointing run at Brampton Bryan while immediately after Cold Harbour connections were voicing the opinion that she was crying out for three miles.

Marcle Ridge finally got his act together at the last meeting, where he jumped off in front and never saw another rival. Whether the opposition will allow him to dictate the tactics on Monday is debatable but that win will have done him a power of good and he might be ready to take the next step up the ladder.

Stay Out of Court finished second to Ballyriver Boy at Maisemore. That performance was put into context when the winner went on to win a Fontwell Hunter Chase a few days later, which brings him into calculations.

The Mares Maiden presents a challenge to form students who have very little evidence on which to base their assertions. Here Comes Molly is the highest rated but one of the unexposed runners is likely to have the ability to put her in her place – the problem is finding which one that is.

Tigers Song started favourite for a Mollington Maiden but her fifth place does not fill you with confidence, while Squeaky finished a half-length second on his latest outing and a repeat performance could carry him to victory.

Given the lack of evidence Rowley may hold the key with the unraced Miss Reynard. She is bound to have been well schooled and this looks an ideal starting point as it offers her a winning opportunity.

Round Robin has had numerous chances over the last two seasons, but it seems that whatever the race and whatever the company he simply cannot get his head in front. His supporters always know they will get a run for their money but just when it seems he is going to break the ice, he inevitably finds one too good for him.

Perhaps an end of season Maiden such as this provides a winning opportunity but that is unlikely. First Goodnight started an odds-on favourite for an Edgecote Maiden last weekend but the jockey blamed an overwatered course for that defeat and they may find conditions more to their liking on Monday.

Halloween Harry comes from Maxwell Young’s Droitwich stable but for a young trainer to produce him to win at the first time of asking would be a major feather in his cap.

Milzipa looks the answer in a tricky contest. He has had previous experience with Nicky Henderson, although finishing nearer last than first in most of those outings. He must have been showing Rowley something at home for the trainer to start him off in Points so late in the season.