Category Archives: Reports

RACING RESUMES AFTER ITS ENFORCED BREAK WITH MORE SUCCESSES FOR WEST MIDLAND YARDS

After several disruptions, first snow and then equine flu, the 2018/2019 season finally got back on track at the weekend, and normal service was quickly restored with Alex Edwards riding a double at Bangor on Dee to add to his winner at Brocklesby Park 24 hours earlier.

Edwards and trainer Phil Rowley got their title challenges back on track courtesy of Salvatore’s victory in the Brocklesby Conditions. The 6-year-old continued his progression through the ranks and extended his winning sequence to five with a comfortable victory over Distime.

Rowley saddled 6 horses at Bangor on Dee which resulted in two victories for the Bridgnorth based trainer.

Alex Edwards teamed up with Diana Ralph and Bill Hawkins’s Encounter a Giant in the Intermediate where they faced a major threat from the Sheila Crow trained Rob the Getaway, but that horse was beaten when he fell at the last and the Croome qualified son of Kalanisi continues to impress as he steps up in grade.

Rowley had two runners in the Timico sponsored Mixed Open and they fought out a close finish with the Noel George ridden Optimised beating his stablemate, the Alex Edwards ridden Bear’s Affair by a neck.

Edwards and Rowley teamed up with Undisputed in the Confined but the odds-on favourite was soundly beaten by Ballyrath, while that illusive first winner continues to elude Michaela Tallett who had to settle for third place on Rowley’s Aupcharlie in the Novice Riders.

Rowley and Edwards brought the day to a successful conclusion when Gadrose sporting Diana Williams familiar colours was successful in the Restricted, following a 3-length victory over Spoilt Sam and Rules of War.

Arthurs Secret may not have reached the heights predicted earlier in his career, but is still a useful performer on his day and his effort in the Brocklesby Mixed Open has been described as “awesome”.

Taking the lead at the second he toyed with his rivals and extended his advantage throughout the final mile and went from being 10-lengths at the 16th to hold a 30-length winning margin as he passed the judge.

The weekend saw first winners of the season for Ross on Wye based Ryan Potter and Kinnersley trainer James Ridley.

Don Bersy had an unusual preparation for the Mens Open at the Curre, as he had made the 400-mile round trip to Brocklesby Park the previous day only to start slowly and that led to him being pulled up before the second fence.

It was a much shorter journey to Howick from his Caradoc base and this time he set off on level terms with his rivals.

The 6-year-old was last of the 6 runners over the first but swept into the lead on the climb to the next with Bradley Gibbs determined to set a strong pace and the partnership continued to extend their advantage over the next line of fences.

The leader looked vulnerable as Mister Robbo and Ramble On reduced the deficit racing towards the 13th, but Gibbs kicked on again as they turned back towards home.

Don Bersy and Bradley Gibbs hold a clear lead approaching the 17th at Howick

Don Bersy had to be given a couple of reminders at the 16th but remained well clear until he began to show signs of tiring approaching the last. He wandered about on the run in still but still had sufficient reserves to hold off his rivals’ challenges on the flat.

Ryan Potter, Don Bersy and Bradley Gibbs after the horses hard fought success

Winning trainer Ryan Potter explained afterwards “That’s the first winner since moving to Caradoc in the summer. We have only had the horse about 3 months. He came to us because he refused to start in a couple of races under Rules. We expected him to win yesterday but he didn’t start. He is not the easiest of rides but when he jumps off, he loves his racing”.

35 minutes earlier the Novice Riders race produced the finish of the day with three runner’s inseparable at the last. Flying Eagle led for much of the journey, but Son of Suzie moved onto the leaders tail at the 13th and these two had a titanic battle all the way down the home straight.

Son of Suzie (grey) and Jacob Pritchard Webb, hold the challenges of Victory Mill (red blinkers) and Flying Eagle as they approach the 17th

Son of Suzie just leads Victory Mill at the penultimate

Son of Suzie held a slight lead at the penultimate, but Luca Morgan then produced Victory Mill between the other two runners and they all rose as one at the last. Son of Suzie made a mistake but with the horses finishing in a shute racing away from the crowds it was impossible to tell who had prevailed.

Between the final two fences and Son of Suzie just has his head in front, with Flying Eagle nearside and Victory Mill just behind. Unsure of who has won, the two horses await the judges verdict

Son of Suzie’s connections were confident of victory but it took some time before the official verdict was announced with the Cotswold qualified gelding gaining the verdict y half a length.

This was a first training success for Leafield based Anne Rimell, the wife of N.H. Trainer Mark while the 11year-old carries the colours of Patricia Duncan and her daughter Caroline Mackness.

The horse was given a brilliant ride by Jacob Pritchard Webb who was partnering his second winner. Previously with Fergal O’Brien the 22-year-old Cheltenham based rider is now based with Emma Baker at Naunton.

Jacob Pritchard Webb, winning trainer Anne Rimell (holding picture) and part owner Caroline Mackness

The Skinners sponsored Ladies Open went to Phil Rees’s Alfstar whose horses at based at Joanne Priests Holdfast Stables near Upton on Severn.

The 11-year-old races under a Monmouthshire certificate and was given an enterprising ride by West Midland rider Alice Stevens. She took her mount to the front at the 12th and kept responding as they were challenged all the way down the home straight by Double Captain who was still 5-lengths in arrears at the line.

Alfstar and Alice Stevens hold the challenge of Double Captain at the second from home

Itstimeforapint and Leanne Williamson made up significant ground over the final three fences and that allowed the Cotswold qualified gelding to claim third place at the last.

It was a good 24 hours for Miss Stevens as she had steered Summer Sounds to an easy success in the Thurlow Conditions Race at Horseheath the previous day.

A prolific winner last year when owned and ridden by James Jackson-Stops, the horse is now part owned by Graham and David Fisher. Summer Sounds put up a super performance under his eight pound penalty and made all. He was the only one who really saw the trip out after Alice Stevens set a strong gallop from the start.

Summer Sounds and Alice Stevens take one of the early fences at Horseheath

He was about two lengths clear as they started uphill to the third last but this had been extended to twenty lengths by the time, they reached the post.

In a post-race interview, she was asked by James Crispe about the horses jumping, as his only mistake was at the last. She replied “that was down to your commentary as I heard I was 20 lengths clear coming to the last so I thought I would let him do his own thing – which turned out to be paddle through it”.

Summers Sounds makes his only mistake of the race at the last

Alice gave him a perfect ride and the win was down to spectacular jumping and outstaying the opposition.

Nick Jones’s Draft Pick filled the runners up berth twice last year but finally found a winning opportunity in a 3 runner Maiden at Larkhill.

Ballyjim was preferred in the betting and looked the winner turning in but as he had done when beaten by Miss Seagreen at the same venue a couple of weeks previously he hung left on the flat.

This left the door open for Draft Pick and James Ridley’s charge was quick to take advantage of the situation and eased clear to win by a length and a half.

Not sure who was more delighted – the horse with the carrots or James with the beers!

Sophie Lacey has an excellent record with her runners in Larkhill Maidens but race conditions prevented the stable from their chosen path. Undeterred connections chose to run their un-raced 4-year-old newcomer Tea Clipper in the Restricted.

He produced an impressive performance and this 52,000-euro June 2018 purchase who is a full brother to the recent rules winner Mormon is likely to command a significant sum if he follows the normal sales path employed by the Woolhope stable.

 

HOW ABOUT IT NARROWLY BEATEN AT COCKLEBARROW

The first part of the season has proved problematical for owners and trainers whose running plans have been thwarted by the lack of any significant rain.

Some of the bigger stables are still keeping their powder dry in the hope that conditions will ease considerably in the coming weeks and that could result in some interesting clashes in the future.

This weekend was one of mixed fortunes for West Midland stables. Out of luck at Cocklebarrow they were successful at Thorpe Lodge and Friars Haugh as well as at Larkhill the previous day.

The bitterly cold wind at Cocklebarrow tested the endurance of all participants where the first of this seasons Point-to-Point Classic Races, The Lord Ashton of Hyde Cup resulted in a close finish.

Having walked the course the previous day Sam Jukes decided against running last year’s winner Iberico so Newsworthy was sent off favourite in his absence.

James Henderson’s runner set the early pace, but it was not a searching gallop and with 4 fences to jump he was holding onto a diminishing advantage with Pithivier and the John Smith Maxwell ridden How About It moving into challenging positions.

The favourite began to beat a retreat approaching the penultimate and was passed by Pithivier who now had How About It breathing down his neck. The leader took the last with a half-length advantage but John Smith Maxwell and How About It inched closer on the run to the judge but were still a head in arrears at the post.

Pithivier and Peter Mason (red and white) cling onto their lead as John Smith Maxwell and How About It (nearside) creep closer at the finish of The Lord Ashton of Hyde Cup

The Skinners Ladies Open at this meeting is run over 3-1/2 miles and was dominated from start to finish by the favourite Southfield Theatre and TB Broke Her from Sam Jukes Dymock stable.

Lilly Bradstock took her mount to the front from flag fall, but Hannah Lewis kept the leader in her sights and began to improve going out onto their final circuit.

Lilly Bradstock and Southfield Theatre hold a narrow lead over TB Broke Her and Hannah Lewis at the halfway point in the Lyon Trophy

TB Broke Her was slicker at her fences down the back straight but could never establish a clear lead and the mare was the first to falter approaching the fourth from home.

Southfield Theatre  is well clear as they start off up the run in

Southfield Theatre increased his lead and kept up the relentless gallop in the home straight to score impressively, while TB Broke Her stayed on gallantly to deprive last year’s winner Dabinet Moon of second place.

35 minutes earlier it looked as though the North Cotswold qualified Pantxoa and Jacob Pritchard Webb were in a strong position to take the Novice Riders. The partnership led throughout and seemed to be going better than Susquehanna River on the home turn, with this pairing well clear of the remainder.

Pantxoa and Jacob Pritchard Webb lead the field at the  11th in the Novice Riders

Having jumped perfectly up until that point, Pantxoa hit the third from home, screwed on landing which gave Pritchard Webb no chance of maintaining the partnership. That left Susquehanna River with the prize at his mercy, but distracted by a loose horse he ran out at the final obstacle, and that resulted in Tempelpirate gaining a very fortunate success.

Tempelpirate and Tom Durrell (blue and white) hold a narrow lead over Victory Mill and Luca Morgan with Net Work Rouge just behind, but the result could have been very different

Alex Edwards and Phil Rowley had to settle for the runners up spot with Undisputed in the Conditions at Thorpe Lodge where another local runner Vasco De Mee claimed third place, but they gained compensation later in the afternoon following Salvatore’s success in the Intermediate.

Sheila Crows Rob the Getaway was all the rage in this contest and looked the most likely winner racing down the side of the course, but Salvatore took the lead in the home straight and saw off his rival during the closing stages.

Caroline Robinson’s long journey from Sherrifhales to Friars Haugh on the Scottish Borders proved worthwhile when Beggars Bush beat the favourite Templepoint to land the Restricted under her daughter Immy which made up for Myoldmans defeat in the Intermediate earlier in the day.

Virak races under a Blackmore Vale certificate but his owner Clive Hitchings has his roots in the West Midlands as he is based at Upper Welland near Malvern.

The winner supplemented his Chaddesley Corbett win by taking the Mixed Open at Chipley Park and connections have indicated a tilt at the Dudley Cup is a possibility later in the season.

Stellar Notion had won at Larkhill earlier in the season and returned to the Wiltshire venue to land his second race of the season. Tom Frost’s 11-year-old had little more than an exercise gallop after his solitary rival Tom Barton departed at the 4th.

Photos – Courtesy of Graham Fisher and Pete Mansell

 

MARCLE RIDGE & MISS SEAGREEN – A HOME BRED DOUBLE FOR CLIVE BENNETT

Sam Jukes produced two contrasting but well-judged riding performances which provided Clive Bennett with a double on home bred horses at Larkhill on Sunday afternoon.

The Dymock based trainer/rider led from flag fall and repelled all challenges before landing the Conditions on Marcle Ridge but then showed remarkable patience on Miss Seagreen who snatched Division I of the Maiden in the final 25 yards.

Marcle Ridge has always been well regarded by connections but the Larkhill bookies saw fit to install Sam Cavallaro, Teeton Kato and Portrait King as early favourites.

After opening up at 7-1 Marcle Ridge came in for significant support which sent his odds tumbling as the runners made their way to the start.

Jukes mount was in front by the second and having claimed that position was able to stride along at the head of affairs and was still in front as they disappeared from view at the far end of the course.

The climb up to the 14th exposes any stamina limitations but the partnership had maintained their clear lead when they reappeared over the horizon. The chasing pack did their best to close over the next half mile but Gizzit was 3-lengths down at the penultimate.

Marcle Ridge (pink) just leads at the last from Knockaderry Flyer (noseband) and the grey Portrait King

Portrait King and Knockaderry Flyer then put in their efforts but Marcle Ridge kept finding extra and maintained his advantage around the final bend. The favourite put in another prodigious leap at the last and showed remarkable bravery clinging onto his diminishing lead as they passed the post.

Marcle Ridge is named after a local landmark which Bennett can see out of the window from his Dymock home.

Clive Bennett (cap) and winning jockey Sam Jukes pick up the silverware

A bag of carrots for the horse is a nice touch

The jockey explained later “I didn’t plan to make the running because it seemed everybody else wanted to, but he jumped in front at the first, grabbed the bit and I did not want to disappoint him”.

Having had their fingers burnt with Marcle Ridge the bookies were taking no chances with stablemate Miss Seagreen in Division I of the Maiden later in the afternoon.

Sent off as favourite her supporters must have been fearing the worst as the commentator reported the mare was being scrubbed along to stay in touch at halfway.

Several of the early leaders started to drop away soon afterwards and Ballyjim and Martin McIntyre then took command, with Hon the DJ in second place. The first two looked to have the race between them but Jukes continued with his efforts and the mare then made rapid progress to go 3rd at the 16th.

She was still 6-lengths down at the penultimate but continued to close and saved several lengths when she got through on the inner as they turned into the home straight.

Miss Seagreen (pink) storms to the front during the closing stages of the Maiden

The three runners were spread across the course and there was little between Ballyjim, Hon the DJ and Miss Seagreen as they started off up the run in but Jukes mount was now hitting full stride and got the measure of her rivals in the final 30 yards.

Home bred double for Clive Bennett

A runner up twice last year, the jockey described her “as a tough mare who ran a bit green when she hit the front”. Asked if he was confident of picking up his rivals Jukes reported “Only at the second last, I thought they had gone too fast and would come back to me, and they did, just”.

Bennett has recorded doubles in the past but this is the first time with a home bred pairing. These successes provided a major boost to connections, as Bennett is still recovering from a major operation. He was keen to return to the racecourse immediately afterwards but heeded his family’s concerns that he needed time to recover.

Both of these horses were qualified with the Ledbury, whereas the Mens Open winner Stellar Notion has a North Cotswold certificate.

10 horses faced the starter, but Stellar Notion and Abricot de L’Oasis dominated the race from flag fall and were soon well clear of the other runners.

They had a significant advantage passing the start with a mile to run and with neither of them showing any signs of stopping it was obvious it would require an extraordinary effort for their rivals to get into contention.

Stellar Notion (blue and white) and Abricot de L’Oasis (left) barely saw another rival during the Mens Open and are still inseperable at the last 

The favourite Shotavodka began to make progress in the final half mile but Stellar Notion saw off the challenge of Abricot de L’Oasis around the final bend and eventually prevailed by a length and a half.

Trainer Thomas Frost and owner Steve Dunn (left) on their way back to the winners enclosure

This win provided a first training success for Thomas Fuller who is based at Steven Dunn’s yard at Solihull. The handler admitted he was nervous before the race. “The horse had been going well at home and we thought he would love the galloping track. This is the best start we could hope for”.

The Skinners Pet Foods sponsored Ladies Open provided the best field of its type seen out so far this season and was won in impressive style by the Rose Loxton trained Monsieur Gibraltar.

With Sonneofpresenting an early casualty Southfield Theatre assumed his customary front running role but was joined by Harriett Tuckers mount at the 10th and along with Bistouri d’Honore they began to drew clear of the rest of the field.

Monsieur Gibralter after his success in the Ladies Open

The latter was the first to crack and was quickly followed by Southfield Theatre who was unable to match the pace of Monsieur Gibraltar over the final 2 fences.

Results

Conditions

1st        Marcle Ridge                          S Jukes                       2-1

2nd       Portrait King

3rd        Knockaderry Flyer

Ladies Open

1st        Monsieur Gibraltar               Miss H Tucker           2-1

2nd       Southfield Theatre

3rd        Bistro D’Honore

Maiden – Division I

1st        Miss Seagreen                        S Jukes                       2-1

2nd       Ballyjim

3rd        Hon the DJ

Maiden – Division II

1st        Hello Jazz                              R Withey                    10-1

2nd       Silver Louna

3rd        Double Miss

Mens Open

1st        Stellar Notion                        J Andrews                  4-1

2nd       Abricot de L’Oasis

3rd        Shotavodka

Restricted

1st        Coco Live                                J Savage                     10-1

2nd       Immyday

3rd        Haven’t Time

Novice Riders

1st        Storm Lantern                       Miss J Harbison         7-2

2nd       Adrenalin Flight

3rd        Skylander

 

 

HARKAWAY CLUB MEETING SETS THE STANDARD FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON

To view David Simpson’s video of the Harkaway Club fixture from his Facebook page

please click here

Ciaran O’Brien is listed as the owner/trainer of Hudson Yard who galloped to an impressive victory in Division I of the 2-1/2 mile Maiden during Friday’s Harkaway Club fixture at Chaddesley Corbett.

However, he revealed afterwards that Sir Anthony McCoy has been responsible for the horse’s preparation since she came over from Ireland two months ago.

With his Lambourn based Breaking and Pre-Training business entering one of its quieter periods a decision was made to see if they could be competitive on the Point-to-Point scene and that venture got off to a flying start with Hudson Yard’s success on her racecourse debut.

O’Brien and McCoy have extensive contacts in Ireland and that resulted in the 4-year-old filly joining their fledgling enterprise. Unfortunately, due to prior commitments at Leopardstown the 20 times Champion Jockey was unable to travel to the Worcestershire venue but was made aware of the success immediately after the race.

Martin McIntyre and Hudson Yard clear the last clear of General Arrow (yellow) and Ericsbar (green) to land Division I of the Maiden

The filly was holding the challenge of General Arrow in the home straight, however Ericsbar was still in contention when he hit the top of the final obstacle although Hudson Yard was in full control at this point and it is doubtful if that fall made any difference to the result.

McIntyre provides Ciaran O’Brien with a post race debrief

The meeting started on a good note for local stables when Immy Robinson steered Myoldman to victory in the Restricted. Buffalo Sabre and Zac Baker hit the front on the final bend and looked set for victory before Miss Robinson produced Myoldman with impeccable timing between the final two fences.

3-lengths down at the penultimate she had the winner on level terms at the final obstacle and stayed on dourly to claim the lead halfway up the run in.

Immy Robinson gets the season off to a good start to land the Restricted on Myoldman, catching the leader Buffalo Sabre (purple) on the run in

Successful in an Irish Maiden in April 2018 he was sold for a modest sum at Goff’s the following month. He now runs in the colours of Robinson and her co-owner Rob Martin and is trained by the rider’s mother Caroline at Sheriffhales near Telford (check)

All smiles in the winners enclosure after Myoldmans success

The Ladies Open produced a top-class finish between three top class horses. Golden Tobouggan and Arthurs Secret were vying for the lead as the field went out onto their final circuit, with Virak close on their heels and TB Broke Her still just in touch.

 

Virak is clear of his rivals at the last in the Ladies Open – Being greeted by owner Clive Hitchings as he makes his way back to the winners enclsoure – winning trainer Rose Loxton to the horses right and jockey Natalie Parker

Hannah Lewis’s mount felt the pressure soon afterwards while Arthurs Secret began to struggle as the leaders turned back towards home. Claire Hardwick and Golden Tobouggan looked to be getting the better of the argument with Virak but Natalie Parker’s mount showed his class as he forged clear between the final two fences and had a 6-length advantage as they passed the judge.

The winner is trained by Somerset based Rose Loxton but is owned by Upper Welland businessman Clive Hitchings. He explained afterwards “The horse had good form under Rules but is only small and struggled to concede weight to his rivals, so we decided to send him Pointing”.

Reigning Champion Rider and trainer Alex Edwards and Phil Rowley rarely leave this meeting without a winner but had to wait until late in the afternoon before Hazel Hill prevailed in the Mens Open.

The 10-year-old has only been beaten once between the flags but Enville based owner Diana Williams and Morville trainer Phil Rowley took their time before deciding to let Hazel Hill take his chance.

Always on the Run set the early pace and was still in front on the final climb but his effort petered out as the favourite took the lead on the home bend.

Petrou then made his bid for glory but the winner forged clear between the final two fences and quickly opened up an unassailable lead.

 

Hazel Hill outclasses his rivals in the Mens Open

Mrs Williams, along with Judith Healey and Jen Hancox are all stalwarts of the Harkaway meeting and Point-to-Pointing in general so this proved a popular success.

Before Hazel Hill’s victory Edwards and Rowley had suffered several setbacks most notably when Levasseur could not peg back Tiger Sun in Division II of the short Maiden and later in the afternoon Sego Success had to settle for second spot behind Risk a Fine in the Conditions.

Tigers Son was always in the vanguard but had to face a strong challenge from the favourite over the final two fences but had sufficient reserves to hold Levasseur’s renewed effort on the flat.

 

Levasseur (red and white) comes to challenge Tigers Son between the final two fences and gets close at the last before his effort is repelled on the flat

This success was the first leg of a double for Warwickshire rider Gina Andrews who has won the National Ladies Riders Title for the last four seasons and is already staking her claim for a fifth.

Her second success came in the final race of a long day when Classico Dais clung onto his lead to claim the 3-mile Maiden.

Tom Tom Turnaround led for most of the contest but weakened dramatically on the final turn and as they straightened up for the judge it became a straight fight between Classico Dais and the Worcestershire qualified Round Robin.

Round Robin (blue/red hoop) renews his effort at the last but agonisingly for connections failed by a neck to finally open his account

The former got first run but Round Robin who has been placed on numerous occasions in the past refused to accept defeat and inched closer all the way up the run in before going down by a neck.

Nineteen horses lined up for the Conditions but most of them may as well have stayed at home because James King took Risk a Fine to the front from the start and they saw off all challengers to land the spoils for owner Steve Whistance and trainer Gareth Moore.

The winner was given an enterprising ride by King. They looked vulnerable when Sego Success challenged early in the home straight but he struggled to get on terms over the final two fences.

Risk a Fine and James King keep up the gallop as they are challenged by Sego Success (checked colours) between the final two fences

Luca Morgan landed the Novice Riders on the Johnny Farrelly trained Portrait King to win the Hanley Mills Award for the best performance by a Novice Rider. The 25-1 outsider had a protracted battle with the well supported Summer Sounds throughout the final mile, with the latter holding a fractional lead at the penultimate but Portrait Kings stamina proved crucial in the closing stages.

Luca Morgan and Portrait King fly the last in the Novice Riders

The winning rider receiving his award from Belinda Palfrey of the sponsors Hanley Mills

Prior to the Christmas break the Carmarthenshire held their re-arranged meeting at Fos Llas.

After assessing the entries at that meeting and Chaddesley Corbett, trainer Jake Slatter persuaded his parents that a trip to Wales might prove beneficial. That proved a wise decision with Bally River Boy making all and extending his advantage from the 15th to come home for an easy win.

Photo’s by Graham Fisher and Pete Mansell

Restricted

1st        Myoldman                            Miss I Robinson           9-2

2nd       Buffalo Sabre

3rd       Gracious Prince

2-1/2 mile Maiden – Division I

1st        Hudson Yard                         M McIntyre                 14-1

2nd       Terrierman

3rd       General Arrow

2-1/2 mile Maiden – Division II

1st        Tiger’s Son                           Miss G Andrews          11-2

2nd       Levasseur

3rd       LLanbeau

Conditions

1st        Risk a Fine                          J King                      16-1

2nd       Sego Success

3rd       Every Breaking Wave

Ladies Open

1st        Virak                                  Miss N Parker             2-1

2nd       Golden Tobouggan

3rd       Arthur’s Secret

Mens Open

1st        Hazel Hill                             A Edwards                 4-5 fav

2nd       Petrou

3rd       Always on the Run

Novice Riders

1st        Portrait King                         L Morgan                   25-1

2nd       Summer Sounds

3rd       You Too Pet

3-mile Maiden

1st        Classico Dais                        Miss G Andrews          4-1

2nd       Round Robin

3rd       Chase Me

 

182 ENTRIES FOR HARKAWAY CLUB FIXTURE ON 28TH DECEMBER

Enthusiasts attending next Friday’s Harkaway Point-to-Point at Chaddesley Corbett should prepare for a long day.

The meeting has attracted a massive entry of 182 with the 2-1/2 mile Maiden (34 entries and a safety factor of 16) and the 3-mile maiden (37 entries and a safety factor of 18) facing division on the day.

The meeting commences at 10-30 am with the final race scheduled for 1-30 pm so there is scope to fit in any extra races before the light fades.

Successes at Chaddesley Corbett 12 months ago provided the basis for Phil Rowley’s assault on the National Trainers Title and he will be hoping that history does repeat itself.

The Bridgnorth handler looks to have chances in several races, with Levasseur and Mr Knowitall carrying the stables hopes in the 2-1/2 mile Maiden and the selection is sure to give a good account of themselves. Both horses suffered narrow defeats on their racecourse debuts last year but will know what is expected of them on this occasion.

Beat Star started favourite for a Point-to-Point Flat race last week and will have benefitted from that experience and must go close. Fitness is critical at this stage of the season and chances have to be given to The Triple Pillar and General Arrow who both represent top class yards.

The meeting opens with the Restricted where Caliente is the Rowley representative and could come up against another trainer based in the Bridgnorth area. Caroline Robinson has a good record over this track and Myoldman is sure to make his presence felt.

Wylde Magic had useful form under Rules and Worcestershire based Angela Rucker will be hoping that he puts his best foot forward. Others to note include Antiphony, Equus Leader and Buffalo Sabre.

Arthurs Secret and Abi Banks will start favourites for the Ladies Open and on recent form they hold a big chance. Golden Tobouggan and Western Diva always run well in these types of races, while TB Broke Her has finished third at Buckfastleigh and second at Larkhill so should now be coming to peak fitness.

Clive Hitchings has had many useful horses over the years and this continues with Virak who won a Hunter Chase for Paul Nicholls in the past, while Josephine Banks could challenge her sister with either Ckalco des Loges or Well Mett.

The Men’s Open has all the ingrediants for the race of the season so far, with prolific winners Bally River Boy, Bear’s Affair, Chasforgold, Hazel Hill, Premier Portrait, Robin De Boss, Rye Cross and William Money likely to challenge one another.

Bears Affair scored a facile win at Leominster a couple of weeks ago but has much more to do in this contest which means that Rowley could turn to Hazel Hill to deliver the goods. Sam Jukes has the difficult choice between Chasforgold or Rye Cross, while Robin De Boss’s chances have to be respected if he comes up from the West Country.

William Money was successful 6 times last year including a victory over course and distance, while Premier Portrait won his first two outings in 2017/2018 including a Taunton Hunter Chase so obviously comes to hand early.

Two recent course winners take their chances in the Novice Riders. Crowded Room recorded a faster time than Ballycahane 12 months ago and he will also be getting 3 lb from his rival so that is another point in his favour. The latter has had two outings in recent weeks while his rival will be making his seasonal debut.

Global Power has the best form but will be anchored by several penalties and that puts him out of the equation, while Summer Sounds paid the price for a strong early pace at Larkhill and if ridden with more discipline could score.

Abi Banks and Round Robin could be reunited in the concluding Maiden, but the front running 7-year-old always seems to get outpaced at the finish as evidenced by five placings last season.

Chase Me does not have much form to recommend him but his connections always get the best out of their horses so it would not be surprising if he ran into a place.

If Levasseur bypasses his engagement earlier in the afternoon he stands a big chance although the stable may opt to run Stereo Sound.

The Conditions looks a difficult race to unravel, with He’s A Bully, Robin de Boss, The Jaffna Queen and Optimised all potential winners.

The race sees the return of Sybarite, who won a Dudley Cup over this course a few years ago. He was retired after several lacklustre performances in 2017/2018, but connections eventually found out what was troubling him. He does have two ways of running but it would not be a major surprise to see him doing all his best work at the finish.

Clive Bennett’s Marcle Ridge scored twice over this course at the tail end of last year where he used front running tactics to good effect. This is a major step up in class but one he is capable of making.

 

 

 

CAV’S GIRL SCORES AGAIN AT THE ATHERSTONE

All the weekends meetings saw an increase in runners but lack of any substantial rain meant some trainers preferred to wait until conditions ease.

Droitwich based Max Young sent horses to Barbury Racecourse and Clifton on Dunsmore and was the only locally based handler to send out a winner, but had to wait until the final race on the Atherstone card.

Martin Oliver’s 5-year-old mare Cav’s Girl had been impressive when beating a solitary opponent at Leominster Races. She made all the running on that occasion and connections saw no reason to change a winning formula.

Cav’s Girl (seen winning at Leominster) followed up that success by scoring in the Atherstone Restricted

Gina Andrews took her to the front from the start of the Restricted and they never saw another rival. With two wins she has taken an early lead in the Jockey Club Mares Maiden Series Award but both of these successes have been over 2-1/2 miles so it will be interesting to see what she achieves when stepping up in distance.

West Midlands stables suffered one of those rare weekends by failing to chalk up a winner at Barbury.

Young’s runners failed to shine at the Wiltshire venue but will have benefitted for the experience. These included Grey Frontieres who will have learnt much from her racecourse debut, while The Feckenham Fox was always behind in the Mares and was wisely pulled up after a circuit, the same fate applying to Ask the Guvenor in the 3-mile Maiden.

Alistair Ralph’s Croome and West Warwickshire qualified Beat Star was sent off favourite for the opening JRL sponsored Flat Race but was in trouble coming out of the dip into the home straight and had to settle for fourth place behind Tom Malone’s Isla’s Dream.

Isla’s Choice (green and yellow) leads the field into the straight. Max Comleys Wonderful Dreamer (orange) ran well to claim second while Beat Star (green and white) finished fourth

Rendcomb trainer Max Comley’s Wonderful Dreamer caught the eye in this contest. Held up at the back of the field he began to make progress down the back straight sneaked round on the inner in the home straight and put in his best work at the finish.

Ralph saddled Mervyn Davies Churchtown Girl in Division II of this race and she put in a great performance and looked the winner until caught in the dying strides by Merchant House.

It doesn’t happen very often but all 15 horses entries meet their engagements so with a safety limit of 14 the race had to be sub-divided.

Churchtown Girl ran in the first part and was held up just behind the leaders until James King sent his mount up to dispute the lead with Schiap Hill with half a mile to run.

Churchtown Girl (yellow and blue) is getting the better of Schiap Hill (red and blue). The eventual winner Merchant House (beige and maroon) still has a lot of ground to make up

They got the better of the favourite entering the final two furlongs, but Jo Supple produced Merchant House with a well-timed run to squeeze between her rivals on the run in to score a narrow victory.

The 3 mile 6 furlong Conditions race looked tailor made for Iberico but in his absence the race produced a worthy winner in the shape of The Dapper Fox. Jack Veysey sent his mount into a race winning lead on the final circuit and this manoeuvre took his rivals by surprise and they struggled to claw back the deficit in the final half of the race.

The Dapper Fox clears the last to claim the Conditions

Julie Mansell’s Celtic Intrigue was returning from a 2-1/2 year absence and looked a little ring rusty but stayed on well to claim third spot.

The Hasfield trainer saddled Murray Mount for the Daly family in the Mixed Open but he was never seen with a chance eventually pulling up while Sacre Toi was prominent for the first circuit in the Novice Riders before fading out of contention.

Tommie O’Brien and Byron Moorcroft both rode winners at Clifton on Dunsmore so the first page of the Mens Championship has an unfamiliar look to it at present but will no doubt change as the season progresses.

Below – Woodbrook Boy (Nearside) and Bridge of Cally fight out the finish of the 2-1/2 mile Maiden

Truly Spoken lands the Mares Maiden at the expense of Roseisaroseisarose

Photo’s – Graham Fisher and Pete Mansell

DANILO D’AIRY SCORES AT LARKHILL

After a stuttering start to the season due to the paucity of runners the situation improved for Sundays Hursley Hambleton fixture at Larkhill.

Most West Midland stables seem to keeping their powder dry for the Area’s first meeting at Chaddesley Corbett on 28th December, so our representation has been thin on the ground recently, and wins have been difficult to come by as a result of that policy.

Sam Jukes runners had performed well at Buckfastleigh so hopes were high the Dymock based trainers’ runners would be able to provide Jukes with that all important first winner of the season.

TB Broke Her had finished third on her seasonal debut and after that performance Will Gaskins’ mare was installed as favourite for the Ladies Open with betting suggesting that Southfield Theatre would be her main threat.

Southfield Theatre (checked sleeves) leads the Ladies as they pass the judge for the first time

Lilly Bradstock took Southfield Theatre to the front at the fourth and the two market rivals had the race to themselves through the second half of the contest.

Hannah Lewis had her mount in a perfect position throughout and the leader looked vulnerable as TB Broke Her inched closer approaching two out but Southfield Theatre found extra reserves and began to extend his advantage as they turned back towards home and had the race in safe keeping at the last.

Southfield Theatre flies the last leaving TB Broke Her in his wake

Sam Jukes on The Well Road and Tommie O’Brien on Summer Sounds were determined to set a strong gallop in the Conditions but may have overdone the forcing tactics as both paid the penalty for their early exertions later in the race.

Summer Sounds (noseband) and The Well Road (pink) set a strong early pace

They were still in contention breasting the crest of the hill but both dropped away tamely soon afterwards. Blackwater Bramble was the main beneficiary of the strong pace and he swept into the lead half a mile from home. He maintained his relentless gallop and went further clear in the closing stages with John Smith Maxwell easing right down on the run in.

Far from foot perfect at the last but Blackwater Bramble has nothing to fear from his rivals on the run in

The winner is qualified with the Tiverton Staghounds and was following up his success at Buckfastleigh in the colours of Roz Smith Maxwell and her mother Katherine, who is a well-known figure on the West Midland Point-to-Point scene.

Local stables had to wait until the very last race before things turned in their favour. Victory came from an unexpected source with two potentially useful 5-year-olds fighting out the finish of the Open Maiden.

As expected, the Sophie Lacey trained Airlander and Tommie O’Brien were installed as favourites although there was plenty of support for Harriet Brown’s Montarlot and Sam Allwoods Free Ski but both were early casualties.

With heavy drizzle reducing visibility at the far end of the course, it became clear the finish was going to concern Danilo D’Airy (Cotswold) and Airlander (Ledbury).

Zac Baker’s mount led as they galloped towards the home straight, with Airlander poised to challenge as they raced towards the second from home, but surprisingly it was Tommie O’Brien who was the first to go for their whip.

Zac Baker and Danilo D’Airy lead Airlander on the final bend

His mount’s resolution could not be faulted but they were always fighting a losing battle as Danilo D’Airy maintained a clear lead at the last and stayed on strongly to land the spoils for Chipping Norton based Farrier John Benfield.

Not much in it at the last but Danilo D’Airy retained his advantage on the run in

Noble Ben showed his liking for Cottenham by recording yet another victory at the Cambridgeshire venue in the hands of Alex Edwards. Just Cause was preferred in the betting but the race was run at a steady pace so it became a sprint in the home straight, and that proved to the winner’s advantage.

 

ROWLEY & EDWARDS START OFF THEIR TITLE DEFENCE AT EATON HALL

The racecourse at Eaton Hall is a welcome addition to Welsh Borders venues and has potential but the organisers of Leominster Races face challenges if they persist with an early season fixture.

The course rode well and received favourable comments but car parking is detached from the action and that is a negative and needs some innovative thinking to resolve.

West Midland stables were quick to get their names on the scoreboard when Jason Warner’s colours were carried to victory by Mr Burgees in the second race on the card, the Confined.

Having been ridden by novice riders for most of last season, the presence of Byron Moorcroft resulted in more aggressive tactics which resulted in him leading from flag fall and this took some of his rivals out of their comfort zones.

Mr Burgees and Byron Moorcroft lead the field at halfway in the Confined

The Kvilleken lost 10-lengths at the start but moved into contention approaching three out, but Moorcroft chose this moment to ask his mount for another effort and that increased their advantage on the home turn.

Mr Burgees was 10-length clear but connections had a moments anxiety when the leader stumbled after the last which caused his rider to become momentarily unbalanced.  That situation was quickly rectified and they stayed on well to hold the challenges of the strong finishing Sacre Toi and How About It.

Jason Warner left and Moorcroft right who went onto to compete a weekend five timer

Queried why he had two horses with the Bridgend based trainer/rider Warner replied. “Byron wanted a safe conveyance for Georgina Wemys who is starting race riding and Mr Burgees looked a good option. The horse was so well we decided to run him here. Byron gave him a cracking ride. He was never right last season and was in the last chance saloon, but showed some of his old sparkle at Bratton Down so we decided to persevere with him”.

Leading trainer Phil Rowley and jockey Alex Edwards got off the mark when their first runner Bears Affair scored a facile win in the Mixed Open.

Pantxoa and Jacob Pritchard Webb set the early pace, but were joined by Claire Hardwick and Western Diva with a circuit to run, with Bears Affair poised on their heels in third.

Alex Edwards took his mount to the front in the straight and the winner showed his class by maintaining his clear advantage over the final two fences. “He really enjoyed that and quickened up nicely after 3 out”, commented the jockey later.

Two young trainers who made a name for themselves last year continued where they had left off 6 months previously.

Maxwell Young also scored with his first runner of the season when Cavs Girl beat her solitary rival (a 5-year-old racecourse debutant) in the Mares Maiden.

The bookmakers were taking no chances by offering a shade of odds on for both horses during the early exchanges, but Quite Remarkable’s supporters soon knew their fate as she ballooned the first and lost 10-lengths and fared little better at the second.

Zac Baker had few problems with his mount who was putting her previous experience to good use which resulted in a foot perfect display.

Her rival closed the gap as they went out onto their final circuit but Cavs Girl gained ground at every obstacle and was good value for her 25-length success.

Cavs Girl and Zac Baker create a favourable impression in the Mares Maiden

Questioned by owner Martin Oliver about the merits of this success the winning jockey expressed his delight “She did all I asked of her and she’s brilliant over her fences. She is a nice mare and probably wants it a bit softer than we had today and should have no difficulty winning a Restricted”. Young said afterwards “We have always liked her and it’s nice to train a winner for Martin”.

Ryan Potter’s Dublin Indemnity put on a bold show in the 2-1/2 mile Maiden but eventually had to settle for second place. The order remained unchanged before Double Indemnity made a mistake at the 10th. He managed to cling onto the lead for another couple of fences but was unable to respond when Henry Crow sent the Joe O’Shea trained Mr Snuffles into a clear lead on the home bend – a welcome birthday present for owner Don Constable.

Mr Snuffles and Henry Crow are clear of their rivals at the last

This provided a third winner of the afternoon for Cheshire trainer O’Shea who has notched up 4 victories during the first two days of the new campaign.

Irish Anthem and Immy Robinson set the ball rolling in the 2 runner Members. The partnership set out to make all the running and succeeded in doing so although Hillview Lad managed to get within two and a half lengths at the post but was subsequently disqualified for failing to weigh in.

Leading West Midland based rider Tommie O’Brien had the proverbial steering job on Road to Rome in the Restricted. This combination had opened their account at Buckfastleigh 7 days earlier and were never headed after taking an early lead and scored an impressive 35-length success over Pearlesque.

O’Brien later suggested to owner Graham Briscoe that he should “look after him because there are better races to be won with him later on in the season”.

Road to Rome and Tommie O’Brien score for the second time this season in the Restricted

Ryan Potter sent out his first winner since moving to new stables on the Caradoc Estate over the summer when Light Flicker justified odds on favouritism in the Open Maiden.

Jack Tudor and Double Dipper set a steady pace but Tudor was already hard at work as they went out onto their final circuit whereas Bradley Gibbs was sitting motionless as the favourite waited in the leader’s slipstream.

Double Dipper (yellow cap) is pushed along to maintain his lead in the Maiden, while Light Flicker (left) bides his time

Sent to front on the final bend Light Flicker extended his advantage up the home straight. The 6-year-old was placed on several occasions last year for previous trainer Andrew Campbell but the Ledbury qualified gelding now carries the colours of the Tewkesbury Partnership.

Light Flicker in the winners enclosure

NORTH HEREFORD

MEMBERS

1ST         IRISH ANTHEM            MISS I ROBINSON                    1-8 FAV

CONFINED

1ST         MR BURGEES               B MOORCROFT                       5-1

2ND       SACRE TOI

3RD       HOW ABOUT IT

MIXED OPEN

1ST         BEARS AFFAIR              A EDWARDS                             4-7 FAV

2ND       WESTERN DIVA

3RD       PANTXOA

RESTRICTED

1ST         ROAD TO ROME          T O’BRIEN                               1-5 FAV

2ND       PEARLESQUE

MARES MAIDEN

1ST         CAVS GIRL                    Z BAKER                                   4-5 FAV

2ND       QUITE REMARKABLE

4-5-6-7 YEAR OLD MAIDEN

1ST         MR SNUFFLES               H CROW                                  EVENS FAV

2ND       DUBLIN INDEMNITY

3RD       BONNIE LILY

OPEN MAIDEN

1ST         LIGHT FLICKER             B GIBBS                        4-7 FAV

2ND       DOUBLE DIPPER

3RD       KING NIDGE

With 24 runners the North Hereford did the best of the weekend meetings, 23 horses were declared at Barbury and 21 horses at Howick. Although it was done for valid reasons the decision to financially support early season meetings has had repercussions and with the exception of the Mixed Open, racing at Barbury did little to support this initiative.

6 horses lined up for this contest with Iberico and Knockaderry Flyer representing the home contingent, while Net D’Ecosse and Shotavodka had both travelled a long way to participate.

Course specialist Iberico was installed as favourite but it was Knockaderry Flyer who set the early pace, while Iberico put in several clumsy jumps during the first circuit.

Shotavodka (nearside), leads Petrou and Iberico (pink) at halfway in the Mixed Open

The race began in earnest as they raced down the back straight for the final time and Net D’Ecosse had just taken the lead when he blundered Jack Andrews out of the saddle at the 13th.

Shotavodka and Petrou quickened the pace at the next where Iberico was caught flat footed and lost about 10-lengths on his rivals.

The winner started to get the better of Petrou on the run to the penultimate but Iberico’s stamina started to kick in and as he always does he put in his best work in the closing stages, passing Petrou on the flat and was only a length and three quarters behind the winner at the finish.

Success on Shotavodka continued the good start to the season made by Tommie O’Brien but his exploits were put into context by Byron Moorcroft who landed at 4-timer at Howick including a walkover on Jason Warner’s Beneficial Joe in the Mixed Open, while Upton on Severn trainer Jo Priest took the Members with A Tale of Intrigue at the start of this meeting.

Photo’s – Graham Fisher and Pete Mansell

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.