Anyone down by the start of the 2 mile 5 furlong Restricted at Edgcote on Sunday afternoon, could see several jockeys were preoccupied with getting away quickly, while the more experienced Dave Mansell and Bryan Moorcroft offered their perspective on what was obviously going to be a strong early pace.
Their advice fell on deaf ears because as soon as the starter dropped his flag there was a rush to the front. Both Mansell and Moorcroft ignored the break neck pace over the first mile and were soon some away adrift, but common sense eventually prevailed and the pace settled, and they both began to make up ground coming into the home straight.
Joey Kangaroo was 6-lengths behind as they passed the 3-mile start. Mansell had kicked on at this point at the Grafton meeting but was unable to last home. He had obviously learnt from that experience, because he delayed his challenge until leading just before the final bend.
A study on concentration as Dave Mansell and Joey Kangaroo lead Well Said (red and white) and Just Skittles at the third from home
Joey Kangaroo held a 4-length advantage at the third from home and was clear until hitting the top of the penultimate obstacle. That sent him sideways but he was soon back on an even keel and had the race in safekeeping at the last and proved far too strong for Just Skittles on the run in.
The winner is trained by the rider’s wife Julie at Hasfield and carries the colours of the Farmers Arms Syndicate from Birtsmorton, who have had to be patient with the 8-year-old who has not won since Cocklebarrow back in 2016.
Dave Mansell is one of the more senior jockeys on the Point-to-Point circuit having recorded his 200th winner at Chaddesley Corbett recently but is riding as well as ever and his experience and tactical awareness bore fruit on this occasion.
Ramble On started favourite for the Mixed Open, but support for the Phil Rowley trained Aupcharlie saw him replace the Welsh runner at the head of the market.
Aupcharlie had been placed four times for Michaela Tallett, but Alex Edwards was trusted with the ride on this occasion, and punters decided that could be a crucial factor.
Pantxoa and Smadynium set a strong pace but the favourite looked in trouble passing the judge for the final time, as he was getting reminders which were not having the desired effect.
A circuit to go and Pantoxa (left) leads with Aupcharlie (red and white) still some way behind
Edwards’s mount was having trouble laying up and while he lost no more ground he was not making any impression on the leading group.
At the last and Ramble On (red and white hoops) and Aupcharlie (breastgirth) get ready to fight out the finish
Just when all seemed lost, Aupcharlie began to respond to his rider’s urgings and they slowly staged a revival to give their supporters hope. Ramble On’s 2-length lead at the penultimate had been whittled away and the two horses were inseparable at the last.
Ramble On (left) refuses to let his rival past
Having got himself into a race winning position, most people expected Aupcharlie to prevail but he could not deliver the coup de grace and Ramble On eventually won by half a length.
Still to close to call but Ramble On (left) got the verdict by half a length
This was the Rowley’s only runner at the meeting but with Edward’s major rival Will Biddick failing to score at Bratton Down and with Alan Hill running out of time to close the gap on his opponent in the trainer’s title it appears the West Midland pairing have one hand on their respective National Championships.
There was a local winner at Garthorpe the previous day when Zac Baker teamed up with Martin and Jane Wanless’s North Cotswold qualified Big Man Doe to take the Conditions. The 6-year-old son of Millenary took the lead from the start and made all to claim victory by two and a half lengths at 20-1.
Big Man Doe and Zac Baker lead the field at Garthorpe
Local jockey Alice Stevens took the Intermediate on the Fran Nimmo trained Heated Debate and helped her draw level with Isabel Williams in the race to become the Leading Female Novice Rider.
Max Young’s Green Winter was favourite for the Mixed Open and did well to get within 4-lengths of the winner Proximo to whom he was conceding 9lbs and on a course that would not have played to his strengths.