Emma Alvis has saddled 17 runners in Point-to-Points this season and prior to last Monday none of them had won but during the last week things have turned around with Jeans Lady scoring at Paxford, Chasforgold tasting victory at Woodford on Saturday afternoon and less than 24 hours later Big Casino obliged in the Mixed Open at Knightwick.
A small but select field faced the starter including the 13-year-old who was having his first run for 15 months, but Zac Baker sent him to the front from the start of this 3-1/2 mile contest and they defied all efforts to catch them.
Garde Ville and the favourite Knight Bachelor moved into contention at the final open ditch but Alvis’s runner maintained his advantage at the third from home. Alex Edwards asked his mount for an effort approaching the penultimate and did get a response but Big Casino was reluctant to give up his lead and drew clear again approaching the last, with Garde Ville claiming the runners up spot in the final strides.
Big Casino and Zac Baker lead Knight Batchelor and Garde Ville at the last
The winner draws clear on the flat
The winner had good form under Rules for Nigel Twiston Davis, but now races in the colours of the trainer’s father Bertie.
This was the second leg of a double for Baker who is based with the horse’s previous trainer at Naunton, because earlier in the afternoon he had guided Chase Me to victory in the Restricted.
This became a two-horse race from a long way out with Aero Majestic doing his best to run the finish out of his rival.
Another winner for Baker on Chase Me in the Restricted
That proved unsuccessful as Chase Me passed the leader on the home bend but the runner up found hidden reserves to re-challenge approaching the 18th, but that effort was short lived and Chase Me stayed on readily to supplement his Bonvilston success
Winning owners Heather Ridley-Gaines and Helen Wood
The 8-year-old has helped propel Kinnersley trainer James Ridley to a record-breaking season. He said later “I thought they had gone off too fast when they were so far clear. Zac said he was looking round for company in the home straight and he probably made it look harder work than it was”.
When they were based in Worcestershire Mike and Zoe Hammond were strong supporters of local Point-to-Points, but the family has recently moved to East Anglia. That meant a long journey over from their Downham Market base but that was rewarded when Ronava fought back well in the closing stages of the Veteran and Novice Riders race.
Ronava led for the first circuit, but Lucy Hammond was then content to play second fiddle to Gabrial the Great who went on at halfway where the favourite Summer Sounds was already labouring.
Ronava re-passes Gabrial the Great at the last – Lucy Hammond makes a brilliant recovery – which earned her the Hanley Mills Novice Riders Award
Thomas Murray’s mount led turning back towards the judge but Lucy Hammond never gave up trying and seized their chance as the leader began to falter between the final two fences. They repassed the runner up approaching the last before storming clear on the run. Lucy in currently studying at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester.
“He came from our normal source in Ireland who has provided us with numerous winners in the past. It took us just over 3 hours to get here, but we wanted a flat track because he has not won over further than 2-1/2 miles in Ireland. He will probably go to Dr Richard Newland after the season for our son Charlie to ride under Rules” the winner owner and riders father Mike said later.
Charlie Dando and Carrig Dubh scored an impressive win in the Confined. Thoonavolla led until parting company with Abi Banks at the 10th and that allowed Wychwoods Brook to take charge.
Dandos mount began to close on the leader around the final bend and they had already gained control of the race when the runner up made a mistake which effectively ended his chances.
Carrig Dubh and Charlie Dando land the Confined
The jockey explained afterwards “He had a soft palate operation before the season. I thought I had him spot on for Didmarton but he ran disappointingly. He had the hood on but seemed to lose interested when passed at Bitterley so we took it off today. He picked the winner up nicely. He won’t run in a hood again”.
There has been much debate in Point-to-Pointing circles regarding weight allowances for young horses and the perceived threat from some stables regarding their monopolisation of certain types of races.
Results at this meeting gave hope to those smaller yards that are willing to take on the bigger battalions.
Fran Nimmo’s Feodora started an odds-on favourite for the Mares Race despite Robert Chugg’s home bred filly never having jumped a fence in public. The trainers record in these types of races is such that some punters are willing to make a leap of faith on their chances.
That policy has worked numerous times in the past, but on this occasion the cards fell in the bookies favour.
Cousin Rita was still in contention when she fell at the 9th, but prior to and after that Tinctoria and Lorna Brook made the running. During the early stages of the race Feodora’s jumping left much to be desired as she lost 5-lengths at some fences and more at others, but to her credit she was able to make up the lost ground on the flat.
Feodora was on level terms entering the home straight but a succession of mistakes over the last three fences finally put paid to her chances and given the ground she gave away at each obstacle she did well to get within three and a half lengths of the winner at the post.
Despite all the errors Feodora (left) was still in with a chance at the last, but jumping is the name of the game
Representatives from the Rowley yard (Flamboyant Joyaux) and Lacey stable (Flywork) clashed in the 3-mile Maiden, with the former installed as favourite after an eye catching run at Bangor, while the Lacey runner was making its racecourse debut.
Looden led for much of the journey with Flywork following in his hoof prints before Flamboyant Joyaux took over with a circuit to jump. Alex Edwards had the leader jumping beautifully down the back straight, and Flywork was the first to crack as he lost touch after the final open ditch.
Flamboyant Joyaux lands the odds under Alex Edwards in the last
Looden and Charlie Dando harried the leader all the way up the home straight but the favourite popped over the last to claim the prize for owner/trainer Phil Rowley.
Photo’s – Graham Fisher and Pete Mansell
1st Carrig Dubh C Dando 5-4
2nd Wychwoods Brook
3rd Kyles Faith
1st Chase Me Z Baker 5-4
2nd Aero Majestic
3rd Silver Louna
Veteran and Novice Riders
1st Ronava Miss L Hammond 7-1
2nd Gabrial the Great
1st Big Casino Z Baker 7-2
2nd Garde Ville
3rd Knight Bachelor
1st Tinctoria Miss L Brooke 3-1
(only two finished)
1st Flamboyant Joyaux A Edwards 8-11