Clive and Eileen Bennett have been involved in Point-to-Point Racing for over 30 years and last season proved one of their most successful. They started this season as they ended the last one with winners during Sundays Point-to-Point Owners and Riders Club fixture at Barbury Racecourse.
19 horses lined up for the Mixed Open with Now Ben and Lilbitluso vying for favouritism although Iberico did come in for late support. The two market leaders were at the head of affairs from the start while Emma Alvis’s runner Big Casino also held a prominent position.
Now Ben was carrying a 12-lb penalty but put in a brave front running display until a bad mistake at the 14th ended his chances. Iberico was beginning to get into his stride at this point, and Sam Jukes made what turned out to be a race winning move as he then began to pour on the pressure.
Lilbitluso was the only one able to cope with the increased pace and was about a length behind the leader approaching the third from home. Iberico met it on a perfect stride, whereas Lilbitluso hit it hard, became temporarily unbalanced and went very wide round the bend.
Approaching two out and Iberico (pink) is clear of Lilbitluso (dark & light blue) with Big Casino (green cap) coming through to take 3rd
Juke’s mount looked vulnerable as Lilbitluso closed the gap as they met the rising ground, but once they straightened up for home Iberico saw off his rival’s challenge and Lilbitluso had to accept defeat between the final two fences.
Iberico jumps the last with a clear lead
The Dymock trained gelding stormed up the run in to prevail by 5-lengths with the Emma Alvis trained Big Casino 8-lengths back in third. The winner of 3 races last year Iberico was conceding 6lb to the runner up and although 11-years-old this was probably one of the best performances of his career.
Sam Jukes seems pleased with himself and so he should be after success in this company
Winning connections in the paddock
Questioned about future objectives connections were keen to keep Point-to-Pointing reasoning it had taken them a long time to improve his jumping and that could be easily undone over larger obstacles.
The trainer/jockey indicated his charge “was likely to return to the course for the January meeting. He loves it here so why change. He likes a flat track and has to go left handed. He was completely outpaced over the first four fences and made mistakes at each one, but they came back to me and he started to jump better”.
The Bennett horses are divided between Jukes who trains at their home near Dymock and Emma Alvis’s yard at Laverton and the friendly rivalry between these two trainers ended on level terms when Alvis took the Intermediate with Chasforgold.
Ballyfore Cross and Minella Friend alternated in the lead but the field closed ranks racing down the back straight. Employing similar tactics to those employed earlier in the afternoon, Jukes closed on the leaders with Chasforgold and hit the front with half a mile to run.
Chasforgold and Sam Jukes hold a useful advantage over their rivals at the second from home
Palmaria and Robin de Boss were within touching distance on the home turn but were unable to close the gap which resulted in Chasforgold prevailing by a length and a quarter with just a neck separating the second and third.
Alvis admitted afterwards “We thought he had a good chance. He is stronger this year and has filled out. He is big and rangy, and it has taken a long time to fill his frame. He had a couple of years off with a ligament problem in his back.”
Winning trainer Emma Alvis with Chasforgold – Sam Jukes, Clive Bennett and Heather Kemp in the presentation area
The jockey recall “He did not pick up the bridle on the first circuit, but when I asked him for an effort down the back straight he did so immediately. He loves this type of ground.”
Bridgnorth trainer Phil Rowley was unlucky not to land a double. Pique Rock scored an impressive in in the Mares and Fillies Maiden while his newcomer The Sting half a length behind the long-time leader Lily’s Got Wings in the 2-1/2-mile Maiden when capsizing at the final obstacle.
Pique Rocks path to victory was eased when the favourite One Big Love went at the first, but its doubtful if this made any difference to the result.
The Spider Catcher led into the back straight, but Alex Edwards was just biding his time and the partnership hit the front approaching the third from home and strode clear for a 10-length success.
Pique Rock and Alex Edwards at the last
With owner Juliett Minton busy preparing foals for the Newmarket Sales her husband David explained “We like her a lot. She knew where she was when she arrived at the racecourse because her box (she was previously in training with Alan King) was just behind the paddock. She ran well when 5th at Cheltenham but then lost her way. If we can win another point with her, we might send her hurdling”.
David Minton, Alex Edwards, Mel and Philip Rowley are all smiles after this win
Opinion was divided about the outcome of the concluding 2-1/2 mile Maiden. Lily’s Got Wings held a useful lead from halfway, but all the way down the back straight The Sting began to make significant inroads and it looked as though the leader would be swallowed up on the final bend.
The Sting (red and white) and Lily’s Got Wings are level at the second from home
Jack Andrews mount has the advantage at the last and is left clear when The Sting falls
The 5-year-old proved a difficult nut to crack although The Sting did get on level terms at the second from home. There was little in it at the last, but Alex Edwards mount hit the top and came down which left Lily’s Got Wings 20-lengths clear of Mary Vestey’s U No Like who held a prominent position until the pace quickened with half a mile to run.
Photo’s Graham Fisher & Pete Mansell
1st William Money C Brace 4-6 fav
2nd Just Cause
3rd Vaillant Creek
1st Pique Rock A Edwards 6-5
2nd Act Like You Know
3rd Sackable Offence
1st Iberico S Jukes 7-2
3rd Big Casino
1st Sentimentaljourney S Wood 6-1
2nd Rendezvous Peak
1st Chasforgold S Jukes 5-2
3rd Robin de Boss
2-1/2 mile Maiden
1st Lily’s Got Wings J Andrews 33-1
2nd U No Like
3rd Troed Y Melin