The Cotswold Vale Farmers meeting return to Maisemore Park produced some competitive racing.
Race planning was adjusted many years ago to provide opportunities for the less experienced rider. That was a welcome initiative at the time, although there is now a more balanced programme for them throughout the season, but this fixture continues to attract good support.
21-year-old Leanne Williamson had cause for celebration after Itstimeforapint had provided the young rider with her first victory after 8 rides. Williamson hails from Scotland but is now based at Nigel Twiston Davies yard in Naunton and the partnership have caught the eye on several occasions this season.
The Ladies Open became a match after La Modonnina hit the fifth and ejected Abigail Lewis from the saddle. Bankhall and Itstimeforapint matched strides for the remainder of the contest but the favourite’s jumping was much slicker than his rival and Bankhall was being nudged along as they raced towards the third from home.
Leanne Williamson and Itstimeforapint stretch clear of Bankhall on the run to the line
Inexperience can tell at vital times in a race, but Williamson kept her composure before driving her mount clear between the final two fences and asserting their superiority on the flat.
Winning connections pick up their trophy
Sam Canning and You’re the Man had outjumped and outgalloped their rivals when storming to victory at Andoversford recently, and proved that was no flash in the pan by repeating the feat against more experienced rivals in the Restricted.
Prove Me Wrong was an early casualty but You’re the Man had already set out his stall. No Limitations had won at the previous meeting but his jumping lacked any fluency and errors cost him vital ground at crucial stages of the contest.
He began to lose touch with four fences to jump but You’re the Mana was making the best of his way home whereas the favourite Stay Out of Court was having difficulty maintaining contact. Canning’s mount put in two superb jumps over the final two obstacles and that sealed their rivals’ fate.
You’re the Man proves he is by galloping his rivals in the ground in the Restricted
Winning trainer Jake Slatter commented afterward “I almost gave up after his early performances, but I always thought he had something about him but he was not showing it on the racecourse. I just train him out of the field and it seems to work. He also gets on well with Sam who has got him jumping”.
Owner Nigel Jackson must be getting used to picking up the silverware – the second in a week for You’re the Man
Calmsden based rider Albi Tufnell had ridden his first winner at Andoversford 7 days previously so was full of confidence as Call Me Vic lined up for the Conditions.
Creepy set a strong pace and still held the lead with half a mile to run but was then passed by Ballycahane who looked set for victory rounding the final bend. Tufnell thought otherwise and challenged approaching the penultimate before drawing clear on the run to the judge.
Call Me Vice and Albi Tufnell are clear of Ballycahane at the last
Ryan Potter had been out of luck with Kilmacallogue Bay earlier in the afternoon but the tide turned in the concluding Maiden. Golden Doyen and Take the Mick paid the penalty for their enterprising tactics earlier in the race and were joined by Valliant Creek at halfway.
These three were still in the driving seat racing down the back straight but the favourite Llancillo Lord was poised on their heels and waiting to pounce.
Llancillo Lord leaves his rivals flat footed in the Maiden
Vaillant Creek made a crucial mistake at the 15th and that meant he struggled to get back into contention. The favourite had the race in his pocket in the home straight and came home unchallenged.
Fran Nimmo and Charlie Poste split their resources between Edgcote and Maisemore and the latter was chosen for the racecourse debut of Switch Hitter.
The bookies were taking no chances with this 4-year-old son of Scorpion who started favourite albeit against some moderate rivals.
Beni Light and Ben Jones made their intentions clear from the start and the opposition were soon having a difficult task keeping up with them.
Tommie O’Brien had settled Switch Hitter in mid-field and was giving the youngster a perfect racecourse introduction before moving into a challenging position with four fences to jump.
They closed quickly around the final bend, passed their toiling rival in the home straight and despite showing signs of greenness had far too much class for the opposition.
Switch Hitter and Tommie O’Brien romp home
The winner was brought at Tattersalls Sales last May and is sure to have increased his value after this victory.
Charlie Poste receives his trophy from sponsor Sam Drinkwater – a familiar face on the Point-to-Point circuit a few years ago
Meeting Secretary Jason Warner saddled several runners, but his efforts went un-rewarded although Mister Dick did fill the runners up spot in the Members.
Jason Warner presenting Tania Taylor with a small token of the Area’s appreciation for all her hard work whilst she was Area Secretary
The Brookthorpe based owner had enjoyed more luck during the Llangeinor Pentrych meeting at Pyle 24 hours earlier.
Warner has made several visits to the Principality already this season and his association with Byron Moorcroft has already born fruit. French Piece was taken to the front from the start and that proved a wise decision as several of his opponents fell by the wayside.
A loose horse threatened them on several occasions, but conflict was avoided and the 5-year-old won easily. Previously with David Bridgwater the winner had not shown much form for the Cotswold handler and had been last of 14 at Huntingdon in early January.
Summer Sounds had been beaten at Andoversford but regained the winning thread for Alice Stevens in the Bicester Members at Edgcote to record his fourth win of the season for Joint Owners Graham and David Fisher.
Summer Sounds gets back to winning way at Edgcote
Zoe and Mike Hammond marathon 350 mile round trip from their Abberley base to Fakenham proved worthwhile when their daughter Lucy steered Ronava to victory in the Conditions which allowed the young rider to record her second success between the flags.
Martin and Jane Wanless took 4 runners to the South Wold fixture at Revesby Park and came away with an unusual hattrick. Monetaire took the Ladies Open, Big Man Doe the Mens equivelant while Kyles Faither won the Conditions. Their other run Lake Balaton finish runner up in the Intermediate.
However those three successes came via two walkovers, while Big Man Doe faced just one solitary rival.
It is a record many people will be happy not to see repeated.
1st Jungle Legend M Barber 4-6 fav
2nd Mister Dick
3rd Spanish Arch
1st Switch Hitter T O’Brien 5-4 fav
2nd Beni Light
3rd Schiap Hill
1st Call Me Vic A Tufnell 9-2
3rd Minella Friend
1st Itstimeforapint Miss L Williamson 4-6 fav
(only 2 finished)
1st Teeton Kato J Tudor 6-4 fav
2nd Black Jack Rover
1st You’re the Man S Canning 11-4
2nd Stay out of Court
(only 2 finished)
8 plus Conditions
1st Llancillo Lord J Tudor 6-4
2nd Vaillant Creek
3rd El Lobo
Jo Priest has unearthed a star judging by Ballyboker Breeze’s performance at Bitterley on Saturday afternoon.
The 11-year-old had reasonable form under rules and went into many peoples notebooks after beating Rye Cross at Maisemore two weeks ago, although that was in a Members over 3 miles whilst Saturdays Mixed Open was half a mile shorter.
Uppertown Hawk adopted his customary front running tactics but Ballyboker Breeze was in close attendance while Murray Mount went up to share the lead at the 13th.
Baker made a forward move on the favourite at the 4th from home and that tactic proved successful as the opposition were struggling to reduce the deficit around the final bend. The leader extended his advantage over the final two fences and stormed up the run in for an easy success, with Uppertown Hawk running his usual honest race by snatching second place off Red Inca in the shadows of the post.
Ballyboker Breeze sprints up the run in to claim the Mixed Open – winning connections afterwards
Baker was heard to say later “I gave him a squeeze at the last hoping for a long one, but he said no I’ll just pop it.”
The experienced judging team at Bitterley had to preside over several close finishes especially the Restricted and Conditions. These types of results are always contentious and whilst everybody is entitled to their opinion, the judge is the only person who makes the decision and their verdicts must be respected.
Buffalo Sabre and Miss Seagreen led the field until halfway but Clive Bennetts mare had to be scrubbed along to stay in touch going out onto their final circuit.
Will Biddick and Ed Walker’s promising youngster St Barts moved up to challenge Monbeg Oscar and Buffalo Sabre who were vying for the lead until the latter made a mistake at the 12th. That caused him to forfeit the lead but he was soon back on an even keel and disputing the lead entering the final half mile.
Miss Seagreen started to rally at this point and thrust her way back into contention approaching the last but Alex Edwards and Monbeg Oscar had a 2-length advantage which they were keen to maintain. Miss Seagreen was putting in her best work at the finish and began to claw her way back into contention but Monbeg Oscar held on to gain the verdict by a short head.
Monbeg Oscar (blue) and Miss Seagreen (pink) fight out the finish of the Restricted
The winner of an Irish Point-to-Point he failed to match those efforts while racing under Rules for Evan Williams so joined the Ruckers Worcestershire stable and ran well in defeat at Brafield on the Green.
Alex Edwards and owner Angela Rucker (left)
John Smith Maxwell is enjoying a fine season and added another winner to his CV after Buck Magic’s hard-fought win in the Members.
Galbally King attempted to make every post a winning one but the tank was empty when Buck Magic swept passed him between the final two fences. Smith Maxwell had nursed his mount throughout the entire contest due to his tendency to jump right and he did so again at the last.
Buck Magic and John Smith Maxwell return after their win in the Members
The owner/trainer/jockey said immediately after the race “That’s it – he’s been retired as he owes us nothing” following his mounts last first success back in 2016.
Will Biddick was seen at his best on Bletchley Castle who romped to an easy victory in the Confined, while racegoers were treated to the sight of Gina Andrews and Biddick going head to head in the closing stages of the conditions.
Both jockeys are set to break some long standing record in the coming weeks. Andrews did so the following day when riding her 42nd winner of the season and passing Polly Curling’s record for a Lady Rider set back in 1995, while Biddick is rapidly closing in on Richard Burton all-time record of 414 winners between the flags.
Gina Andrews on her record breaking winner King of the Clothe
Carrig Dubh set the race up for the two market leaders leading for a circuit and a half before Biddick sent Fly West up to contest the lead with Andrew’s mount Hawkhurst at the final open ditch.
Fly West began to inch clear approaching two out but Andrews sensed an opportunity and forced her mount back into contention. Both jockeys showed why they are at the top of their trades and were locked in battle passing the post, with Andrews’s eventually gaining the verdict by the narrowest of margins. She went onto to compete her double on Dee Star in the Maiden later in the afternoon.
Hawkhurst (left) and Fly West flash past the post in the Conditions
The JRL sponsored Flat Race had to be split at declaration. The first half went to the Joe O’Shea yard with their 4-year-old Blaster Yeats, while the second division went to Alex Edwards who completed his own double on Phil Rowley’s debutant Quinta Do Mar who was having his first run since joining the Shropshire yard following his purchase at Tattersalls Ireland in November 2018.
1st Buck Magic J Smith Maxwell 3-1
1st Bletchley Castle W Biddick 8-11 fav
1st Monbeg Oscar A Edwards 2-1
1st Hawkhurst Miss G Andrews 11-8
1st Ballyboker Breeze Z Baker 10-11 fav
1st Dee Star Miss G Andrews 4-5 fav
JRL Flat Race – Division I
1st Blaster Yeats B Carver 5-4 fav
JRL Flat Race – Division II
1st Quinta Do Mar A Edwards 4-5 fav