Jake Slatter has shown he is able to improve almost every horse that enters his Toddington yard, but You’re the Man’s win in the Maiden at Andoversford Races must rank as one of his best training performances.
The 7-year-old had failed to complete the course in four outings for Slatter and previous trainer Andrew Campbell, but the stature of the opposition did give connections some cause for optimism.
Sam Canning set off at a steady pace before being joined by the favourite Bespoke Cave at halfway and these two dominated the remainder of the race.
The market leader had by far the best form with two recent placings but both of those were over 2-1/2 miles and that may be the limit of his endurance at present because the writing was on the wall as he began to lose touch at the bottom of the hill.
Sam Canning and You’re the Man are well clear turning for home
You’re the Man’s jumping became more reliable as the race progressed and he was able to extend his advantage over the final two fences to score a popular success for local owner Nigel Jackson.
You’re the Man flies the last – This is what it means to have a winner – as Nigel Jackson celebrates his horse’s success
This win provided some compensation to the trainer who lost stable star Ballyriver Boy on the gallops recently, but he was unable to provide an explanation for the horses improved performance, other than the weakness of the opposition.
The Ladies and Men’s Open provided close finishes with the favourites for both events beaten. Tb Broke Her started an odds on shot for the Ladies on the strength of her impressive win at Monmouth Showground 7 days earlier. Hannah Lewis had the mare anchored at the back of the field until making progress to take the lead at the final open ditch.
They held a useful lead over Chu Chu Percy and Well Mett down the back straight and Lewis quickened the pace as the runners began to climb up to the home straight. Tb Broke Her was never able to establish a race winning lead but was still a couple of lengths clear rounding the final bend.
Turning for home and Tb Broke Her leads Chu Chu Percy while Well Mett is some way behind
It is closer at the last but Well Mett has reduced the gap
Straightening up for the Judge the mares lead was diminishing whereas Josephine Banks and Well Mett were now getting into full stride. They had just over a length to make up on the run in but Well Mett is a seasoned campaigner and finished strongly to get up in the shadows of the post.
The 12-year-old carries the blue and cerise hoop colours of Pat Tollit, whose family have supported Point-to-Point Racing in the West Midlands since the 1930’s, when they were carried by Mrs Tollit’s father Major Harold Rushton.
Pat Tollit and her grand daughter Josephine at the presentation with Jeremy Hitchings
The winner is trained by Tollit’s daughter Christine Banks and ridden by her granddaughter Josephine.
Later in the afternoon it was the turn of Christine’s sister Katherine Smith Maxwell (owner) and her daughter Alex Dunn (trainer) turn in the winners enclosure after How About It had scored aa hard-fought success in the Robert Hitchin’s sponsored Andoversford Grand Annual Chase.
Abricot de L’Oasis departed early while the favourite Sarazen Bridge and Nick Phillips went to the front at halfway and with four fences to jump still held a narrow lead over Premier Portrait and How About It.
John Smith Maxwell and How About It gradually began to inch clear of their rivals on the stamina sapping climb to the home straight and they turned back towards home with a good lead.
How About It and John Smith Maxwell maintain their lead around the final bend and at the last but it was much close as they passed the judge
How About It had been in front for longer than normal and his concentration appeared to waver approaching the last and that required both physical and vocal encouragement from the rider. It worked, and despite Premier Portrait finding extra reserves in the closing stages they still had a half-length advantage as they passed the judge.
Smith Maxwell and How About It on their return to the winners enclosure
Andoversford plays to some horses strength and that was certainly the case with My Murphy who was last at half way and had to be pushed along to stay in contention at several stages of the race.
Summer Sounds was attempting to win his fourth consecutive race but was harried for most of the contest by Sam Jukes on The Well Road and their fight for the lead may have contributed to his downfall.
Having disposed of that rival’s effort they faced another challenge as Albi Tufnell and My Murphy began to eat into their advantage climbing the final hill.
Summer Sounds (noseband) and Alice Stevens hold a narrow lead at the last
The favourite was still clear turning for home but Tufnell’s mount cornered better than his rival and saved several lengths in the process and that probably turned out to be a race winning manoeuvre as My Murphy stayed on strongly in the closing stages to prevail by half a length.
This was a second success for the 17-year-old Radley College student, but “his first proper one” he said later as the first was gained as a result of a walk over at Garthorpe last season.
Winning trainer Sally Randall (left) with Mark and Jane Tufnell and their son Albi picking up their prizes for winning the Conditions Race – later in the afternoon Albi was presented with the Hanley Mill Novice Riders prize from sponsor Belinda Palfrey
Naunton trainer Sally Randall sent out the first two winners when Matt and Sally Burford’s Cheltenham de Vaige followed up his stablemates opening race success in the Restricted.
Just two runners faced the starter with the Randall runner hot favourite on the strength of his Monmouth win. With a solitary opponent Hannah Lewis decided to race on her terms so the favourite was allowed to stride along in front but without taking too much out of himself.
Major Detail stayed in touch until they met the rising ground but then fell further behind which allowed the winner to score an impressive win without coming off the bridle.
Second win in a week for Cheltenam de Vaige and Hannah Lewis
Matthew Barber has returned to race riding this year after an 18 month break from the sport. He was a prolific visitor to the winner’s enclosure in the past and scored his first winner since his enforced absence by steering Jungle Legend to success for owner/trainer Claire Jones in the Intermediate.
Mark Barber and Jungle Legend are well clear of their rivals in the Intermediate
1st My Murphy A Tufnell 10-1
2nd Summer Sounds
1st Cheltenam de Vaige Miss H Lewis 1-3 fav
2nd Major Detail
(Only two ran)
1st Well Mett Miss J Banks 12-1
2nd Tb Broke Her
3rd Chu Chu Percy
1st How About It J Smith Maxwell 5-2
2nd Premier Portrait
3rd Sarazan Bridge
1st Jungle Legend M Barber 4-5 fav
3rd Midnight Monkey
1st You’re the Man S Canning 5-2
2nd Bespoke Cave
3rd Which Sky
There were five local winners at Andoversford, but West Midland qualified runners also made their presence felt at other meetings with Drumhart prevailing in the Novice Riders at Tabley.
Pat Tollit’s runner had a protracted battle with Vivaldi Collonges throughout the second circuit but just proved the stronger on the flat.
It was a day of mixed fortunes for Phil Rowley and Alex Edwards at the North Ledbury. Undisputed had to settle for the runners up spot behind Princely Player in the Conditions, but the show was back on the road in the Timico sponsored Mixed Open.
Now Ben faced two serious rivals in the shape of Green Winter and Don Bersey but came out on top with an emphatic win.
Rowley’s runners in the two divisions of the JRL sponsored Flat Races were both beaten. In Division I Padstow Harbour got to within 4-lengths of Durouyn, with the second half of the race saw the Rowley trained favourite Trooper Jones finish down the field.
Jason Warner’s Mister Dix finished fourth in the Ladies Open at Andoversford but his stablemate Diplomatico fared much better in his chosen objective at the Tedworth’s Barbury Racecourse fixture.
“Stratford-upon-Avon-based Richard Evans got a ‘big kick’ out of seeing his home-bred Hott Lips finish with a flourish to take the Jockey Club and the Butterworth Family Open Maiden for Mares and Fillies over 2m 4f.
The seven-year-old had three rivals in front of her turning into the straight, but Lucy Turner produced the daughter of Midnight Legend to storm through on the run-in and beat Nos da Cariad and Katie Sinclair by two lengths, with Ballydorn third.
Evans, rider of Grand National regular The Pilgarlic in the 1970s, said: “I have spent a lot of time with her at home, so when you get a winner of a point-to-point it is lovely.”
He bred Hott Lips out of his mare, Major Hoolihan, with the pair named after the character in the American TV series MASH, and he added: “She is bred from quite a good family and hopefully we will put her to stud one day.”
It was a first pointing win of the season for Turner, who had ridden for her boss, Venetia Williams, in the conditional jockeys’ and amateur riders’ race at Aintree the previous day.
On an afternoon when all six favourites obliged, Diplomatico opened his account for Moorcroft and Jason Warner with a runaway victory in the Ramsbury Brewing & Distilling Four, Five And Six-Year-Olds Open Maiden over 2m 4f.
Moorcroft took over the running at the sixth-last and his mount soon went clear to score by a distance from Courtly Love and York.
Warner said: “We bought him in the summer off David Bridgwater. He has improved a bit and got a bit of confidence. It wasn’t a very good race, but he could only win it.”
Moorcroft added: “He goes on better ground and when he ran at Bangor it was way too soft for him.”
(Tedworth information supplied by Russell Smith)
With the counter attraction of the Grand National on Saturday afternoon, and numerous winning opportunities the following day, there was limited local representation at the North Warwickshire fixture at Mollington.
On breeding Midnight Frensi has under achieved in recent years, but the reason for that became apparent after the 10-year-old had prevailed in the concluding Maiden.
Dave Mansell had got a good tune out of the gelding when they were narrowly beaten trying to concede 18 lb to Bird on the Wire at Brampton Bryan in what was Dymock trained geldings first completion in a 4-year career.
That was obviously considered a flash in the pan by bookmarkers as Martin and Doreen Wilesmith gelding was sent off at the rewarding odds of 11-2. Having led to the 8th, Mansell was content to bide his time being delivering his mount to lead at the lead before being driven clear up the final hill.
Connections explained afterwards “This is down to Doreen. We brought him as a foal at Doncaster but it has taken us a while to sort him out. We discovered he was flipping his soft palate, but we had no indication because he was not making a noise and none of his previous jockeys have suggested any problems”.