Category Archives: Reports


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: –

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


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’.


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



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.


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



1ST           WILLIAM MONEY                               C BRACE                               4-9 FAV

2ND         GLORY HUNT



1ST           DRUMHART                                        J KING                                  9-4




1ST           WES HARDIN                                      MISS B HOUGHTON            7-1




1ST           SULU MAGIC                                      A EDWARDS                        3-1




1ST           MARCLE RIDGE                                   S JUKES                                2-1

2ND         SNOW PUMA



1ST           SQUEAKY                                            J MARTIN                             9-4




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



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.




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.



Gloucestershire rider David Mansell scored his first success on a horse called Mis-E-Fishant back in 1997, which earned the judgement “Dave is not yet the tidiest but will ride anything and some of his results have been rather impressive”.

20 years later and with another 199 winners under his belt, the 54-year-old rider would probably admit that comment was justified, but he has his own inimitable style and is one of the few characters remaining in the sport.

A field of six lined up for the Conditions at Chaddesley Corbett on Saturday afternoon where Emma Yardley and Cyrien Star were keen to get to the front and led the field until challenged on the final climb.

Distime and Findlay’s Find started to overhaul the leader approaching the 16th, but Distime made an error at this vital stage of the race and lost 5-lengths.

Mansell sent the favourite to the front as they raced downhill into the home straight, by which time Alex Edwards had got Distime back on an even keel and they began to eat into the leader’s advantage.

Dave Mansell and Findlays Find are clear of Distime at the last

Findlay’s Find looked vulnerable between the final two fences but he met the last on a good stride and had no difficulty resisting the late challenge of his rival on the flat.

The celebrations begin!

The rider’s wife Julie has done well to coax Findlay’s Find back to form after a long absence from the racecourse and the 12-year-old continues to show the enthusiasm of a horse half his age.

All smiles in the winners enclosure with Dave, his father in law Phil, daughters Lilly and Molly and wife Julie

Mansell got the biggest cheer of the day when he celebrated his 200th winner by completing a Frankie Dettori flying dismount. “I used to think 3 winners and a broken leg a season was good when I started riding, but then I met Julie and things really took off. Some people have suggested I retire, but I am not stopping – I love it and the horse is enjoying himself”.

Bridgnorth jockey Alex Edwards started this meeting 10 wins clear of the reigning Champion Will Biddick in the race for the National Jockeys Title. After just one win and several near misses it might have been the case of missed opportunities, but his nearest challengers suffered similar fates so he actually extended his lead in the Championship.

Spicy Fruity and Bartizan’s front running tactics carried them 15-lengths clear of the opposition at stages of the 2-1/2 mile Restricted, but it was a pace they could not maintain which enabled the favourite Salvatore to close the gap as they met the rising ground.

Salvatore and Alex Edwards at the last

The winner hit the front approaching two out and stormed into the lead and the partnership were in full command from this point had an 8-length advantage over their rivals at the post.

Trainer Phil Rowley and Edwards were expected to land the 2-1/2 mile Maiden with The Sting, but the favourite “was never travelling” according to his pilot and began to struggle down the back straight before being pulled up at the 14th.

Clive Bennett’s Marcle Ridge has been disappointing on his two runs in this country but finally made amends with a pillar to post victory in this race.

Sam Jukes pushed him into an early lead and they never saw another rival. Up the Drive was only able to offer token resistance during the final stages but was well beaten in the home straight.

Marcle Ridge and Sam Jukes open their account

“That’s better” commented the owner afterwards while his son Will stated “That is the way he has to run, go off in front and make the running. It was the way he was ridden in Ireland”.

Although bred in Republic the 6-year-old is out of the Bennetts mare Labarynth and is named after a local landmark near to the owners Dymock Farm.

Clive Bennett and Sam Jukes are all smiles after Marcle Ridge’s first success

Edwards teamed up with the Diana Ralph trained Drumhart in the Mixed Open and as they straightened up for the judge it seemed as though Edwards would chalk up another winner as his mount passed the long-time leader Againn Dul Aghaidh early in the home straight.

Againn Dul Aghaidh and Henry Crow jump across Drumhart. It is an optical illusion or are Drumharts front legs between Againn Dul Aghaidh back ones?

Thanks to this picture from Tim Sage – we have the answer – yes

There was little between them at the penultimate but Edwards’s mount made a mistake and had nothing left in reserve as the favourite drew clear approaching the last.

Alex Edwards partnered the Jo Priest trained Swiss Heights in the concluding Maiden. Sunday Session went to the front a couple of furlongs from home but had trouble shaking off the attentions of Swiss Heights who harried his rival all the way to the finish despite conceding 21 lbs to his younger rival.

Sunday Session returning to the winners enclosure after his success in the Maiden

Ballycahane is becoming a bit of a Chaddesley specialist as the 9-year-old recorded his third course success with a facile win over Mr Moss in the Novice Riders Race.


Ballycahane and Milo Herbert lead their rivals during the early stages of the Novice Riders



1ST         SALVATORE                                 A EDWARDS                  1-3 FAV




1ST         MARCLE RIDGE                          S JUKES                            11-4




1ST         BALLYCAHANE                          M HERBERT                  1-5 FAV

2ND        MR MOSS



1ST         AGAINN DUL AGHAIDH         H CROW                           EVENS FAV


3RD        WELL METT


1ST         FINDLAYS FIND                          D MANSELL                   11-10 FAV

2ND        DISTIME



1ST         SUNDAY SESSION                      T O’BRIEN                       4-6 FAV



Less than 24 hours later Rowley and Edwards were making their way to Sundays meeting at Kingston Blount where victories for Champagne Lilly and Caliente consolidated their positions in their respective Championships.

5-year-old Champagne Lilly started an odds-on favourite for the 4 runner Intermediate with Gina Andrews ensuring Edwards did not have things all his own way. Big Man Doe either led or was in close contention until the favourite made a bad mistake at the final open ditch.

This blunder would have unshipped a lesser pilot but Edwards kept the partnership intact although he had to shake his mount up to stay in touch with the leader down the back straight.

Champagne Lilly starts to draw clear of Big Man Doe and soon opens up an unassailable lead

They continued to make progress and were able to gain the vital inside berth on the next bend. Big Man Doe’s stride began to falter at the penultimate whereas the favourite was just getting into full stride, which meant they extended their advantage on the run to the judge.

“She’s a star” commented owner Fanny Armitage afterwards while the jockey stated “She’s a lovely filly and that is probably only the second time she has been asked a question. She stepped through the open ditch but was clever enough to get away with it”.

Queried about his chances of landing his first Riders Championship Edwards said “We have plenty left to run so will be giving it a go”.

Caliente brought up the double for the Bridgnorth trainer in the 2 mile 5 furlong Maiden. Gina Andrews on Battleofthesomme and the favourite were always at the forefront of affairs and had the race to themselves from the top of the hill.

Around the final bend and Caliente and Alex Edwards have the measure of Battleofthesomme

Battleofthesomme held a narrow lead when they reappeared with four to jump but Edwards’s mount came with a smooth run at the 16th and had soon opened up a race winning advantage.

The winner was picked up relatively cheaply at the Sales last May but is progressing in the right direction and looks a potential star of the future.

The West Midlands enjoyed success in Men’s Open which was also run over 2 miles and 5 furlongs.

Monetaire who had scored so impressively in the Conditions race at Maisemore the previous Monday was sent off an odds-on favourite as a result of that victory.

The Martin Wanless trained 12-year-old took the lead just after halfway but Santa’s Secret refused to concede ground and harried him all the way down the back straight.

Monetaire is hotly pursued about the final bend by Santa’s Secret

There was a couple of lengths between them when they straightened up for the judge, and the runner up made the winner pull out all the stops on the flat. Connections reported after the race “he will run to the end of the season as he loves this ground”.

Winning connections picking up their awards






Ballyriver Boy who was withdrawn at Cheltenham on Friday evening after getting lose and making an unscheduled circuit of the course, gained compensation with an impressive win in the Restricted at a sun-drenched Maisemore Park on Monday afternoon.

The 7-year-old made all the running with Ally Stirling dictating a sensible pace but as they went down the back straight for the final time both Stay out of Court and Golanzine looked big dangers.

The leader quickened again around the final bend and was a couple of lengths clear at the penultimate but could not shake off the attention of Zac Baker and Stay out of Court who harried them all the way to the final obstacle. Ballyriver Boy met this on a perfect stride and that carried him to victory.

Ballyriver Boy clears the last ahead of Stay out of Court in the Restricted

The winner has come on by leaps and bounds since joining Jake Slatter’s yard at Toddington and seems a versatile type having won on softer conditions earlier in the season and now on a sounder surface so could add to his tally before the season finishes.

One for the Slatter family album

The Mares Maiden attracted three runners, but it was an eventful affair and shows just how unpredictable racing can be. Racecourse debutant Graceful Sound made the early running but started to beat a retreat with a mile to run, which left Queen of Dragons and Dina Maker to fight out the finish.

Queen of Dragon’s started to get the upper hand around the final bend and went into a racing winning lead approaching the second from home and consolidated her position between the final two fences. With the race in safekeeping the mare slowed dramatically approaching the final obstacle and eventually refused.

With her rival’s departure proving a distraction Dina Maker hit the fence halfway up, was down on her nose and James King performed miracles to stay in the plate but did so and that allowed her to claim an unlikely win.

Dina Maker survives a bad mistake at the last – just

The mare is owned and trained by Hindlip trainer Tom Weston but carried the colours of Graham Fisher. He has not enjoyed the best of luck this season so was invited to see if this mare might change this – it certainly did in this contest.

This was the second winner of the afternoon for King who had earlier partnered Rockinrolldixie to a deserved win in the Members.

4 runners faced the starter with Orange Nassau attempting to make all, but he was collared by Bill Hawkins’s runner and the favourite Kashmir Peak at the 16th.

Rockinrolldixie had the market leader in trouble around the final bend and held off his challenge approaching the second from home. They quickened into the final obstacle, met it on a perfect stride and that settled the favourite’s fate.

Rockinrolldixie clears the last in the Members

Kashmir Peak was not the only odds on favourite that got turned over because the same thing happened in the Conditions race, where Iberico looked a certainty.

Monetaire was sent to the front from the start by Zac Baker and obviously appreciating the sounder conditions, his mount was foot perfect at every obstacle, while the favourite never made a serious mistake but sometimes lacked fluency.

Going down the back straight for the final time, it became obvious that Monetaire was going to be difficult to peg back and he turned for home with an increasing advantage.

Monetaire and Zac Baker put in another good leap at the last to beat Iberico

Iberico stayed on strongly in the home straight and did manage to reduce the deficit but another slick jump at the last, proved crucial and Monetaire claimed an unexpected success for Martin and Jane Wanless’s yard near Stratford on Avon.

The couple were unlucky not to add the Intermediate to their tally earlier in the afternoon. Lake Balaton jumped superbly throughout, but both Jungle Legend and Teeton Kato were looming up in the leader’s wing mirrors in the home straight.

Lake Balaton was clinging on to a narrow lead at the 17th but made his only mistake of the race and fell, which left Teeton Kato to see off his remaining rival’s challenge. Opinion was divided as to whether Lake Balaton departure had affected the result.

Stone and young George Daly were installed as favourites for the Mixed Open (Novice Riders) and they settled towards the rear as Toowoomba and Bankhall took the field along at a steady pace.

Stone made a forward move at the 13th but still had ground to make up when Emma Jones made what proved to be a racing winning move at the final fence in the back straight.

Bankhall and Emma Jones are clear at the last, while Toowoomba makes a mistake which allowed Stone to claim second place on the run in

This allowed them to turn for home with a healthy advantage over Daly’s mount who had moved into second place, but he struggled to close the gap and Bankhall stayed on strongly to provide his young rider with her first winner.

20-year-old Emma Jones picking up her Elms School Novice Riders Award from Tania Taylor

The horse is qualified and trained in Devon by the rider’s father David, but the West Midlands can claim some credit for this success because 20-year-old Jones is based with Matt and Nickie Sheppard at Eastnor and his final preparations for the race were conducted locally.

Photo’s courtesy of Graham Fisher, Tim Sage and Pete Mansell

The West Midlands Area is lucky to be able to call upon the services of Graham Potts and the team at the Three Counties Equine Hospital at Ripple.

They had spent most of the previous afternoon performing minor miracles in aiding the recuperation of Upton Lara who suffered a neurological episode at Cold Harbour.

Their expertise was greatly appreciated by all concerned at Maisemore the following day.

With temperatures in the mid-20’s and with horses welfare at heart each one was checked out and washed down with copious amounts of water before returning to the unsaddling area.

Well done to the organisers for providing water at crucial points on the course and to everyone at TCEH.


1ST        ROCKINROLLDIXIE                        J KING                        9-4




1ST        BALLYRIVER BOY                            MISS A STIRLING    11-4




1ST        DINA MAKER                                   J KING                        11-10



1ST        BANKHALL                                       MISS E JONES           12-1

2ND      STONE



1ST        PITHIVIER                                        P MASON                  4-5 FAV




1ST        TEETON KATO                                W MARSHALL          EVENS FAV




1ST        GENERATION GAP                         T O’BRIEN                 4-6 FAV




1ST        MONETAIRE                                    Z BAKER                    5-1





Bridgnorth trainer Phil Rowley and jockey Alex Edwards are proving difficult to dislodge from their positions at the top of the Jockeys and Trainers tables and with just over a month of the season remaining are on course to record their first National Titles.

Over the past few years the partnership has won numerous awards locally, but this season has seen them take a big step forward and their bandwagon shows no signs of slowing down.

Edwards is nine wins clear of his nearest pursuer in the race for the Jockeys Title and could add to his tally in the 2-1/2 mile Restricted at Chaddesley Corbett on Saturday afternoon.

Salvatore has won his last two races and a horse that he beat at Bangor scored impressively at Maisemore on Monday afternoon and Edwards mount holds all the aces in this contest.

Geoff Barfoot Saunt and First Goodnight finished second last weekend on their first outing together and the jockey is confident the horse can produce the goods at this level.

Master Hide finally opened his account at Bitterley recently but faces a tough task on his first outing in this company, while Joey Kangaroo may have to settle for a minor placing.

The Rowley yard have two entries in the 2-1/2 mile Maiden, Caliente and The Sting. The former finished a close third in a Point-to-Point bumper at Hereford Racecourse, so providing the obstacles do not prove a problem is like to prove too speedy for Toulouse the Plot and Paint the Dream.

Ask the Guvnor has failed to meet any of his early season entries, so it seems that connections have been waiting for better ground, while Beat Star comes from a good stable and is sure to run well.

24 horses have been entered for the Novice Riders where Welsh rider Conor Brace could team up with William Money or Pink Eyed Pedro – the stable representative gets the vote.

Ballycahane and Milo Herbert have improved throughout the season and have shown a liking for this course, while Alice Stevens is positive on Mistercobar and that strong pace could tell on the opposition.

Some high-class horses have been entered for the Mixed Open, where the Rowley runner Hazel Hill catches the eye, but he may have to play second fiddle to Arthurs Secret who has been raced sparingly so far this season. That has paid dividends with two successes and the third will need to be convincing win if he is to stand a chance of winning the Skinners Final at Stratford in June.

Findlays Find returned after a long absence to win at Knightwick Races and showed that was no fluke by running well at Cheltenham last Friday. He relishes these conditions, so it would not be surprising if he added the Conditions race to his also impressive C.V.

Marcle Ridge finished second in Ireland and looked a certain winner when he came to these shores, but the dice have not rolled in his favour and after falling earlier in the season, he was left at the start at Cold Harbour and Sam Jukes decided to pull him up.

If he can get his act together he could go close in the 3-mile Maiden, against First Goodnight and Beat Star. Up the Drive comes from a good yard, but they may all have to give best to Sunday Session who sent out some positive vibes by finishing third at Woodford.