Due to the large amount of information received from local owners, trainers and jockeys, this years preview has been split into two parts.
The second will appear shortly
2018/2019 POINT-TO-POINT PREVIEW
Every season provides different challenges and while many do not have any significant impact efforts to augment meetings during the early weeks of the season have proved successful increasing from 8 last year to 14 twelve months later with Devon & Cornwall, East Anglia, South Midlands, Northern, Wessex, Welsh Borders, South and West Wales, the Midlands and West Midlands Areas all willing participants.
The fixture list has evolved over decades with organisers reluctant to give up on what are considered “prime dates” so the Authorities decided some rebalancing was necessary.
These changes have come about as a result of the way in which courses are given financial support by reducing the grant given to meetings in April and increasing it for early-season fixtures and this has proved a motivating factor.
Some fixtures felt able to take advantage of a situation where the sports administrators were encouraging change and endeavouring to strike a balance between locations and dates while allowing Organising Committees to choose the time of the season which suited them best – the results so far have been encouraging.
With Claire Hazel moving onto pastures new, Peter Wright was chosen to replace her as Chief Executive of the Point-to-Point Authority.
He will be the third person to hold this post and will need all the skills and diplomacy learnt during his time in the Armed Forces to steer the organisation over the coming years.
Peter has acted as Clerk of Course at Larkhill and has experience either as an official, owner or racegoer. After his appointment Peter said “I’m incredibly passionate about the sport. I cannot wait to get started at the PPA and it is a privilege to be given the chance to take a leading role in securing the future and sustainability of British pointing.”
Another change this year allows former professional jockeys who have partnered fewer than 26 winners to be able to ride in point-to-points.
The sport has long been open to former conditional and apprentice jockeys who reverted to amateur status before reaching the 26 winner threshold. However, once this category of rider reached 26 years of age they were advised on career choices by the BHA and given the option of applying for a full professional licence and that led to them being in-eligible to ride on the pointing circuit.
At the other end of the scale, any new jockey or one who has not ridden in the last 5 years will have to pass a competency assessment before they become eligible to ride between the flags.
Pointingwm recently contacted owners, trainers and riders based in the Area and the following preview has been compiled from information they provided. We would like to thank them for their co-operation and wish everyone success over the next 6 months.
SAM JUKES – DYMOCK
A familiar site at Point-to-Points in recent seasons – a winning combination Clive Bennett and Sam Jukes
Sam Jukes breaks new ground by preparing Will Gaskins’s Tb BROKE HER for her debut in U.K. Point-to-Points, having trained exclusively for the Bennett family previously.
Gaskins is a based next door to Blacklands Farm so the new arrangement allows him to ride out most days and that suits both parties.
The 8-year-old mare raced numerous times in Ireland but came good when transferred to Matt Sheppards yard with impressive wins at Hereford and Ludlow. Gaskins reported at the time “We are so lucky to have her. It’s the first horse we brought without seeing it. She is only 15.2 hands but has the heart of a lion. I have never seen a horse eye up her fences like she does”
She will be aimed at Ladies/Mixed Opens where hopefully she will be able to repeat her successes under rules. The trainer is lined up to take the ride in Mixed Opens while connections have various options available for Ladies events.
Jukes has a new addition in TIM’S CRUSADER who won at Brampton Bryan back in 2016 but was pulled up twice last year. He looks a safe conveyance for Jukes’s farrier Daniel (Sprog) Garlick who is race riding for the first time.
The Bennett inmates include MISS SEAGREEN who was in Emma Alvis’s care last year. She was second on her debut and fancied to go one better at Bitterley before blundering away her chance at the 16th. This promising home bred mare (who is a half sister to Passage East who unfortunately died of pneumonia) is scheduled to run at Chaddesley just after Christmas.
MARCLE RIDGE fell and was pulled up on his first two runs this side of the Irish Sea but showed his true metal when allowed to bowl along in front which he did successful winning a Maiden at Chaddesley (20-lengths) and a Restricted at the same venue by 12-lengths.
Marcle Ridge winning at Chaddesley
He is pencilled in for Barbury on the 25th November along with IBERICO who won his first two races in 2017/2018 including the prestigious Lord Ashton of Hyde Cup. His run at Maisemore later in the season can be safely ignored as that course did not play to his strengths.
It took a long time for connections to find the key to UPPERTOWN HAWK and now they have learnt to wait until the ground dries up. That policy was rewarded with two wins at Cothelstone at the end of last season.
THE WELL ROAD won three times during 2017/2018 and Jukes intends taking him back to Larkhill in either December or January as he ran well at that venue 12 months ago. STONE won at Andoversford but is now at the stage of his career where connections will have to pick and choose his objectives.
SHOMETHEWAY shaped promisingly when a length second to Nobby in a division of the JRL Flat Race at Barbury. He then headed down to Great Trethew where he was unable to justify odds on favouritism and then weakened three out in a Cold Harbour Maiden. It has not been all plain sailing with her but the plan is to take her to Buckfastleigh on the opening day of the season.
EMMA ALVIS – STANTON
Bennett also have RYE CROSS and CHASFORGOLD with the Cotswold based trainer.
Rye Cross took a Buckfastleigh Mixed Open at the expense of West Country favourite Dicky Bob but then made mistake at a crucial time when third at Charlton Hawthorne a few weeks later.
Chasforgold won a Barbury Intermediate and a Larkhill Conditions before finishing third to Battle Dust at Chaddesley, second to Different Gravey at Didmarton and third in a very tight finish at Hereford Racecourse. He pulled up at Cold Harbour but that was over 4-miles, a distance which was obviously beyond his capabilities.
Chasforgold provides another winner for Sam Jukes
Alvis also has a couple of horses for Mike Rollett. CASTLE CHEETAH was favourite at Garthorpe and led until faltering two out, before falling early on at Larkhill. SCARLOUISE will carry the same colours this year.
JEANS LADY faces an uphill struggle to make her name known in the pointing ranks. She ran 13 times for Martin Keighley with third place in a Stratford Hurdle the best of those efforts and he fitness will be tested as she has been off the course for a couple of years.
AMADOUE is 5-years-old and could be described as one of the lesser lights of Tom Laceys stable, although he did manage a couple of minor placings and has subsequently passed into the hands of the trainers father.
LUCY HAMMOND – CIRENCESTER
The Hammond family have been part of the local Point-to-Point and N.H. scene for several decades first as a riders, then as a trainers.
A gallops injury forced Mike to give up training but he assures us that he will still be seen around local meetings. His daughter Lucy is currently studying at the RAU in Cirencester and has taken her pointer LOST LEGEND with her.
She is able to make us of their gallop and admits she is lucky to have such a brilliant horse who came to her having spent most of his career with Jonjo O’Neill at Jackdaws Castle. He proved a most consistent performer and his last outing was when finishing third at Warwick in September 2017.
He is being aimed at the new meeting at Eaton Hall, Leominster on Saturday 24th November. Lucy admits studies have to come first, but hopes to continue riding for Laura Hurley and Sarah Jayne Davies.
Hammond snr and owner Don Constable were a formidable combination over the years, but following the formers retirement Constable still has a couple of horses in training with Heidi Brookshaw.
These include the home bred DARANOVA, who is a half brother to Snuff Box who won under Rules for Venetia Williams, and a 3-YEAR-OLD ARCADIO FILLY AND A HALF SISTER TO LE CHEVAL NOIR who won an Irish Point to Point earlier this year.
JAKE SLATTER – TODDINGTON
BALLY RIVER BOY was a star for Jake Slatters Toddington yard. His previous form had been a bit hit and miss, but the Slatter soon found the key and the horse went on to win three races (including a Fontwell Hunter Chase) and was placed on 2 other occasions. He pulled up a Stratford but that was probably the case of going to the well too often.
Bally River Boy improved rapidly when joining Jake Slatters yard
Connection are hopeful that ARE THEY YOUR OWN will return from injury but admit there is a long road ahead. He has a preference for firmer ground and shorter distances so is unlikely to be out until the spring.
MAX COMLEY – RENDCOMB
Rendcomb Hill Equestrian was established over the summer by Max Comley and his partner Beth George to cover all aspects of equestrian activities.
First season trainer Max Comley
Max retired last year after taking the West Midland Area Leading Novice Rider Title following a constant battle with his weight over the preceding three seasons, but given his varied background it was natural that Point-to-Point training would figure in his skill set.
Many people will recall that KNOCKADERRY FLYER won 2 out of his 3 races including a Cheltenham Hunter Chase when trained by Lucy King. He then ran under Rules for David Shorey but was pulled up at Aintree and Ffos Las. He was subsequently brought by Comley who has leased him to the “Jump on Board syndicate”. “He is not the most straight forward horse to train, but he is a lovely big chasing type who has done every right so far” commented the trainer.
He joins TINELYRA who ran creditably at Cheltenham and Andoversford and connections are hoping that he can finally get his head in front.
JOHNNY’S LEGACY’S owner Richard Barlow decided that he might benefit from a change of scenery. The trainer likes what he has seen so far and is hoping to provide Barlow with his first winner as an owner.
JULIE MANSELL – HASFIELD
The old saying “Everything comes to those who wait” certainly proved true for trainer Julie Mansell last season.
JOEY KANGAROO had looked useful when winning at the Heythrop a few years ago, but several problems meant he was unable to show his true potential since then.
After finishing second over 2-1/2 miles at Edgcote a return visit to that course provided his first success of the season and as a result of that victory connections thought they had nothing to lose at Umberleigh on the final day of the season. 3-miles and the firmer conditions proved right up his street and resulted in another victory.
FINDLAYS FIND also blossomed under the spring sun and the trainer found an easy race for the 12-year-old during the Clifton on Teme meeting at Knightwick. He did not beat much that day but showed his well-being and made a gallant effort by finishing second in a Cheltenham Hunter Chase. The hardened old campaigner then brought up Dave Mansell’s 200th winner at Chaddesley Corbett in late May.
Golden Oldie Dave Mansell celebrates his 200th winner
George Daly is at the other end of the scale and has enjoyed considerable success in Pony Racing but success between the flags continued to prove elusive. He had a willing partner in SACRE TOI who finished runner up to the prolific winning Pointer William Money at Chaddesley but that was the best of his 8 efforts between the flags.
The Daly’s have added another string to their sons bow with the acquisition of MURRAY MOUNT from Henry Oliver. The 8-year-old has won or been placed in 10 of his 26 efforts over the bigger obstacles including a Worcester Hurdle in September 2018.
CELTIC INTRIGUE had good form between the flags when owned by the Barlow’s back in 2015, then won three races on the trot for David Bridgwater. He will provide invaluable experience for Sam Brown who will be having his first rides this season.
MAGHERAL EXPRESS joins the yard from Kerry Lee. On recent evidence he has struggled under Rules so may find the drop into Points beneficial.
TOR COLLINS – BROADWAY
The West Midlands is the new base for Tor Collins who is based in a yard near Broadway as she hunts for a suitable property.
She has 5 horses which are all owned by her long standing and loyal owner Sarah Dawson. These include QUEEN OLIVIA who was placed on three occasions last year with the trainer “delighted with the way she ran so consistently despite probably needing better ground. The plan is to start between the flags and graduate to Hunter Chases with the Mares Final at Cheltenham the eventual goal.
SYBARITE was retired last year after three listless runs which left connections disappointed and baffled by his performances. They thought there must be an underlying issue which was confirmed by the vets. He is now back in training and is pencilled in for a return in late January. If he returns to form it won’t be the first time he has defied his critics.
DOUBLE CLOVER is a 5-year-old home bred who ran twice in JRL sponsored Flat Races at Hereford Racecourse and Bitterley. He will start off in another of these races but better things are expected when he is tested over 3-miles.
MILBOROUGH was purchased during the summer having pulling up on four out of his last five outings. Connections are delighted how he is going at present and are hoping a busy autumn hunting schedule and the drop to point-to-points will result in a major improvement.
The quintet is completed by a 4-YEAR-OLD FILLY BY GOLDWELL out of a sister to Queen Olivia, who they hope will be able to squeeze in a couple of races before the season is finished.
CHARLIE DANDO – CHIPPING SODBURY
Things have been busy at the Dando yard where the inmates include KIT BARRY who was responsible for Dando’s emotional come back win at Barbury after his shooting accident.
David and Charlie Dando in the winners enclosure at Barbury
LOODEEN was second behind a Lacey hotpot at Larkhill before falling at Charlton Horthorne. He was leading when suffering the same fate at Badbury Rings and could be a force to be reckoned with if those errors can be sorted out.
BRASS IN POCKET was placed on two occasions last year, while the stable has an interesting newcomer in EVERYBODY’S TALKIN. The son of Robin de Champs won an Irish Maiden and was sold for £65,000 at Cheltenham Sales straight afterwards. He ran five times under Rules for Nigel Twiston Davies before being sold for a fraction of the price 12 months later.
Connections also have a 5-YEAR-OLD BY APPLE TREE which they are hoping will make the grade.
SUE BRITTEN – COMBERTON
ORANGE NASSAU and TOOWOMBA have been getting ready for the new season with steady work up Bredon Hill and that will ensure their fitness. Connections are in no hurry to start them early as both prefer softer ground, so look out for them when conditions are testing.
Both will be ridden by the trainers son Tom who is on a gap year before taking his place at the RAU in Cirencester. He is currently based with Nicky Henderson and that is bound to have enhanced his race riding skills.
JASON WARNER – BROOKTHORPE
Jason Warner has guided the fortunes of the Cotswold Vale Farmers Point-to-Point for over a decade. He was responsible for the introduction of the Novice and Veteran riders races at Andoversford, and the creation of the Vale Country Fair which helped pull in bigger crowds.
This meeting moves to Maisemore Park next April and it will be interesting to see if this has a positive effect.
Jason Warner – hard working secretary of the Cotswold Vale Farmers meeting
KEEN EYE finished second on two occasions when last seen in 2017 and is being aimed at a Restricted, whilst MR BURGEES ran in 7 points last year but never finished better than 5th.
MISTER DICK ran 9 times and judged on those efforts looks a little one paced. He put in his best effort when beating the odds on favourite William Money in the Mixed Open at Andoversford, but was subsequently disqualified after missing a marker at halfway.
LONG MILE ROAD finished second to Another Drama at Lower Machen and is capable of winning a Maiden at the very least. NOT AT ALL has had 9 runs under Rules for Jonjo O’Neill and was odds on favourite when finishing second on his debut in a Southwell Bumper.
ITALIAN SYMPHONY last outing was in 2014 so a watching brief is suggested until signs of a revival are forthcoming. BENEFICIAL JOE won a Uttoxeter Hurdle in 2017 but was pulled up twice over fences after that. Having failed to make his mark over the bigger obstacles he is given the chance to make amends.
MIKE HAWKER – CHIPPENHAM
Mike enjoyed tremendous success with Sheknowsyouknow and WheresMySlave a few years ago and is now preparing two of their offspring.
LEMONADE DRINKER a five year old out of Sheknowsyouknow has had one run when finishing a tailed off last in a Wincanton bumper. Hopefully he will have inherited some of his dam’s ability and be able to show it before the season is over.
BETTY BATTENS is also 5-year-olds old but without racecourse experience and may need that before showing her best.
MORTENS LEAM won a 2-mile 5 furlong chase for Pam Sly last year and went up the handicap as a result of that victory. Although he has never run over 3-miles Hawker will probably run him in Points to avoid him having to give lumps of weight away to his rivals under Rules.
KIM SMYLY – STANTON
Kim Smyly is all smiles at Andoversford
The Smyly horses are always turned out immaculately which resulted in Kim taking the Area’s Leading Groom Award in 2017/2018. She has a couple of newcomers for the new campaign which include I’M ALWAYS TRYING.
The 5-year-old was purchased by Paul and Claire Rooney at Goffs Land Rover Sales in 2016. He had several runs for David Pipe before transferring to Dan Skelton who managed to win a Fontwell Hurdle with him, but he disappointed when odds-on on his next outing.
The Smyly’s also have an un-named and un-raced 4-year-old who is related to that smart staying chaser Harry Topper who may be worth keeping an eye on.