The Teme Valley and United Pack meeting at Brampton Bryan provided rich pickings for Phil Rowley and Alex Edwards on Sunday afternoon.
The Bridgnorth pairing were successful on four occasions and finished second in another race. With plenty of ammunition to be fired in the coming weeks, they look well on their way to recording successive wins in their respective Championships.
Dalkingstown set the ball rolling in the Restricted. Rowley’s runner had beaten Shometheway at Chaddesley in February, but Clive Bennett is never one to shirk a challenge and re-opposed with that horse’s stable companion Miss Seagreen.
Both market leaders were prominent throughout with the recent Didmarton winner Oscar Bravo the only other horse to offer any sort of challenge over the final three fences. Dalkingstown remained in front as they straightened up for the judge but Miss Seagreen refused to go down without a fight.
The first leg of a four timer – Dalkingstown and Alex Edwards in Phil Rowleys familiar red and white colours lead over the last in the Restricted but were harried all the way to the line by the runner up Miss Seagreen
Oscar Bravo was beaten when he took a tired fall at the last, while the leader had to pull out all the stops to prevail by a head. Placed in Ireland he was brought by present connections at Cheltenham last May, and this was the 5-year-olds second success in his new colours.
Thirteen lined up for the Mixed Open over 2-1/2 miles where Rowley’s runner Knight Bachelor was installed as favourite.
Hidden Charmer set the pace on the first circuit and was maintaining his advantage approaching the third from home. The Welsh challenger led up the home straight and was still clear at the last but Alex Edwards produced Knight Bachelor with impeccable timing to gain a narrow verdict in the shadow of the post.
Midnight Charmer (orange) has a clear lead over Knight Bachelor at the last, but Alex Edwards then gets to work and it is getting much closer as they approach the line
The winner is owned by Point-to-Point Authority Chairman Andrew Merriam, who explained the horse had useful form under rules (4 wins and 5 placings) but had sustained a leg injury at Plumpton in 2016.
“I am absolutely delighted” he declared “he was a good horse and its great to bring them back, and Phillip deserves credit for having him fit enough to win after a 2-1/2 year absence. We will probably keep him Pointing this year, but the most important thing is that he is OK tomorrow. His stable name is Willie, after breeder Willie Jenks”.
PPA Chairman Andrew Merriam (2nd right) with Knight Bachelor in the winners enclosure
The equivalent race for Horses and Geldings provided Rowley and Edwards with their third success of the afternoon.
Midnight Frensi’s rodeo tactics provided Dave Mansell with a big challenge on the way to the start while in the race Bird on the Wire did well to survive a bad mistake at the 4th.
Midnight Frensi moved on the leaders heels at the 8th, while the favourite was given time to recover from his earlier mistake. The lead changed several times down the back straight but turning back towards home Over the Bridge, Midnight Frensi and Bird on the Wire were all in contention.
Bird on the Wire (red and white) leads Midnight Frensi at the last, with Middle Field just behind in third
Edwards’s mount hit the front at the penultimate and was half a length clear at the last before extending his advantage on the flat. Midnight Frensi was completing the course for the first time and at last showed a glimpse of the form his breeding suggests.
Stable spokesman’s David Minton said afterwards “He didn’t settle and made mistakes but did it well in the end so we are very pleased. He will probably go to the sales”.
The 2-1/2 mile Maiden provided the final leg of the Rowley/Edwards four timer and saw The Composeur who had been beaten by Freetime at Chaddelsey open his account at the second attempt.
Dublin Indemnity led for most of the race but was passed by The Composeur, Daranova and Largy Mountain on the home bend. The favourite extended his advantage over the penultimate before putting in another prodigious leap at the last which put the issue beyond doubt.
Fourth winner of the day, The Composeur in the 2-1/2 mile Maiden leads Largy Mountain at the last
The Rowley stable is flying at the moment with Optimised gaining a narrow verdict in a Bangor Hunter Chase on Saturday afternoon.
After their earlier confrontation in the Restricted, the Rowley and Jukes stable re-opposed one another in the Jockey Club sponsored Mares and Fillies Maiden but this time it was Clive Bennetts mare Shometheway who came out on top.
Cashmoll and Showmetheway took the field along at a good pace and the order remained unchanged until the former began to beat a retreat at the third from home.
Shometheway (pink) does that to newcomer Message to Martha at the last
Rowley’s newcomer Message to Martha then took up the challenge, but after looking dangerous on the home turn she could not match her rivals pace on the final two fences. The dam has bred some useful performers including stablemate Marcle Ridge and Nicky Hendersons bumper winner Shishkin.
Shometheway lengthens up the run in
Home bred from stock that have been with Bennett for several generations, this was a smart performance conceding 18 lb to a rival, albeit one making its racecourse debut.
The owner was quick to praise Sam Jukes commenting “He has done a brilliant job with her”. Queried about how many horses he has this year, the octogenarian said “too many!”
More silverware for Clive Bennett and Sam Jukes
There were several West Midland qualified runners in the Confined, but one of them Saroque departed early after jinxing going into the dip by the 5th and unseating John Smith Maxwell, while Julia Oakey’s King Willie finished third behind the eventual winner Emtidaad.
These two meetings show the unpredictability of the sport because 24 hours earlier and Smith Maxwell had been celebrating a peach of a ride which saw How About It get up in the final strides of the Pegasus Club Race at Siddington.
This has a long history following the saddle club’s foundation in 1895 and at one time even held its own meeting. It has been run at several venues including Nazeling, Kimble, Little Horwood, Kingston Blount, Flete Park and Larkhill until eventually settling at Siddington 10 years ago.
5 horses faced the starter with Graeme McPhersons Degooch installed as favourite. Trainer Christy Mews rides out at the owner’s Martins Hill stables near Stow on the Wold while jockey Bohemia Houghton is also employed at the yard.
Degooch dwelt at the start and lost 15-lengths but made up ground steadily and sensibly before taking over the lead turning into the home straight for the first time. They continued to set a strong pace with How About It and John Smith Maxwell the only potential danger as the leader turned back towards home with a narrow advantage.
How About It (red cap) has ground to make up on Degooch as they approach two out
Smith Maxwell asked his mount for an effort at the 16th and then got a good run on the inside just before two out. How About It was responding to his riders’ urgings so there was not much in it at the last and the two horses battled it out all the way to the line, with the Smith Maxwell runner getting rewarded for his tenacity.
John Smith Maxwell celebrates as the result is announced
Winning owner Rozzy Smith Maxwell was full of praise for members of her family who had been involved in the horse’s preparation, especially her sister Alex Dunn who has the horse at her West Buckland yard, and sister Felicity who did all the road work with the horse prior to his move to his current stable.
Rozzy Smith Maxwell (right) with the cup
She also singled out her brother John for his ride. “I have to say I thought John rode the perfect race, we knew he stayed and he was fit from galloping up the hills around my sisters training establishment. I am also pleased to support the Pegasus Club”.
John is enjoying one of his best seasons as he has already won several races on Blackwater Bramble who carries the same colours. Asked if he was confident of victory “I knew I had got there this time, unlike Cocklebarrow where I was narrowly beaten”.
This race provided the only West Midland qualified winner during the VWH meeting on Saturday afternoon, and proved especially frustrating for one of the Area’s most stylish riders Zac Baker.
His first ride of the day resulted in Titans Approach filling third spot behind the day’s most impressive winner Timmie Roe and Charlie Dando’s Carrig Dubh in the Confined.
Baker did little wrong in the Mixed Open but still ended up on the wrong end of a narrow verdict.
Nine went to post including old favourite Dabinett Moon. It soon became apparent that Claire Hardwick had a problem as the mare swept passed her rivals down the back straight and missed the third obstacle. The reason for which became apparent after the race when it was confirmed the reins had snapped.
The favourite Petrou was anchored at the back of the field during the early stages of this contest but began a forward move as Templebraden and Abricot de L’Oasis contested the lead down the back straight.
Templebraden and Zac Baker (right) being challenged by the eventual winner Petrou as they race towards the penultimate
Petrou moved into third place around the final bend where Rye Cross was still in contention, but the two main protagonists had the race to themselves by the third from home. Petrou was a little short of room near the marker approaching two out, but the two horses continued to trade punches over the final two obstacles and all the way up the run in, before the favourite gained a narrow verdict.
Although beaten Templebradens run confirmed the well being of horses from James Ridleys Kinnersley yard, with Baker acknowledging his horse’s mistake at the penultimate may have made the difference between victory and defeat.
Ridley and Baker sought compensation with Draft Pick on the Restricted but after making a majority of the running the 6-year-old son of Court Cave was collared by Wick Green and Drakes Well on the run to the penultimate.
Draft Pick (black and white) comes under pressure as he is challenged by Wick Green (blue sleeves) and Drakes Well in the closing stages
Draft Pick forced his way back into contention approaching the last but both Wick Green and Drakes Well had taken his measure on the run to the line.
The sport has become less parochial than it was in the past and keepers are now willing to travel great distances in search of winning opportunities.
With a local meeting at Brampton Bryan, Worcester trainer Maxwell Young also bypassed the Mendip Farmers fixture at Ston Easton in favour of Kilworthy on the edge of Dartmoor.
Grey Frontieres had finished fifth on her debut and fourth at Brocklesby Park so her performance in the Lamerton Mares Maiden was a vast improvement on previous efforts. James King came in for the ride and the mare got the better of a tight finish with just a couple of lengths separating the first three home.
The Open Maiden went to the Beaufort qualified Five Gold Bars who had shown promise at Charlton Horthorne.
It is not often you get a newcomer from Tom Lacey’s Woolhope yard that does not start favourite for a Maiden, so those who follow this stable must have been delighted with the odds they got on Staithes winning the 2-1/2 mile Maiden at Garthorpe.
The 4-year-old showed some inexperience early in the race but this got better during the course of the race and saw him cruise into the lead a mile from home and keep up the stables great strike rate in these type of races.
Photo’s by Graham Fisher and Pete Mansell