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.