The West Midland season ended on a high note with four impressive front running performances sealing victory for their connections at Chaddesley Corbett on Monday afternoon.
The last race of our season provided the most popular winner of the day and probably the season when Round Robin finally broke his duck in the Maiden. The 8-year-old made his racecourse debut back in 2016 and has been placed 18 times in the intervening period. The horse has tested the patience of owner/trainer Christine Banks who has persisted while others may have given up hope.
Abi Banks took her mother’s gelding to the front from the drop of the flag but they were shadowed by Jack Savage on Dover the Moon until the latter began to beat a retreat on the final turn.
The final two fences have seen Round Robin succumb to rivals numerous times in the past but this was his day and instead of capitulating he began to distance himself from his rivals in the home straight.
Round Robin and Abi Banks clear the last to finally open their account after many years of trying
James King and Felton Bellevue did reduce the deficit on the run in but Round Robin clung on gallantly to secure his first success in the colours of his Worcestershire based owner.
Ballyboker Breeze started at very short odds for the Ladies Open, but Jo Priest’s runner eventually had to settle for second place behind his market rival Tb Broke Her.
Hannah Lewis was keen to make the running but she must have been surprised to approach the first with a 10-length advantage and it could be argued this made the difference between victory and defeat.
Tb Broke Her set a searching gallop before easing down along the back straight which allowed her rivals to get back into contention. Although the lead was reduced, they still had a 5-length advantage as they went out onto their final circuit.
Ballyboker Breeze made a mistake at the 12th and this coincided with the moment that Hannah decided to quicken the pace so the gap had increased when they reached the 14th.
The first two were well clear of their rivals on the climb into the home straight and with Tb Broke piling on the pressure the 14 lb weight concession took its toll and the mare was able to extended her advantage over the final two fences.
Hannah Lewis and Tb Broke Her made every fence a winning one in the Ladies Open
“She’s a super star and seemed to enjoy being out in front” said trainer Sam Jukes afterwards, while owner Will Gaskins commented “That is the highlight of the season for me, she is so genuine and has only been in work for 2 weeks after being side-lined following her run at Cheltenham. Hannah gave her a super ride”.
Will and Diana Gaskins with Hannah Lewis after his mares success in the Ladies
Miss Lewis combines her Point-to-Point rides with training several horses at Holdfast Stables near Upton on Severn. The runner up Ballyboker Breeze is based at the same facility, so no doubt this race will be discussed at length over the coming days.
Having scored 10 points with two second places on Jeans Lady and Ballyboker Breeze Alice Stevens looked to have snatched the Ladies Title from Josephine Banks grasp but Well Mett short headed Hawkstone Spirit to claim third place and claim 3 points and share the Title for the first time in its long history.
Four horses lined up for the Men’s Conditions, but as has been proved so many times in the past you don’t need a lot of runners to provide exciting finishes. With Alex Edwards suspended Noel George took the ride on Phil Rowley’s Knight Batchelor and this pairing were vying for favouritism with Sam Jukes’ mount Stone.
These two horses set a moderate pace which allowed Gallox Bridge and Get Rhythm to stay in touch until the pace quickened at the 12th and these two quickly dropped out of contention.
Knight Batchelor and Stone battled for the lead until the former made a mistake at the 13th which allowed Jukes’ mount to establish gain a small advantage which the favourite struggled to claw back over the final four fences.
Stone (pink) holds a narrow lead at the 17th but has gone further clear at the last
The pace quickened as they turned for home with both jockeys asking their mounts for maximum effort, they responded courageously with Stone more efficient fencing proving crucial over the final two fences.
This win provided the second leg of a double for Dymock trainer Sam Jukes, while owner Clive Bennett is now within shouting distance of recording a century of winners between the flags.
Seven runners were due to line up for the Restricted but Gogetthat proved difficult at the start and was subsequently withdrawn while Black Frost departed at the first, and Charlie Dando had to pull up Brass in Pocket after encountering saddlery problems at the 5th.
Jeans Lady and R Bren were vying for the lead from halfway but could never shake off the attentions of Master Hide. The race changed dramatically on the home turn where Jeans Lady and R Bren looked set to fight out the finish.
Master Hide and James Jeavons storm clear of Jeans Lady and R Bren in the Restricted
Master Hide got a good run through on the inside and that proved a race winning manoeuvre as James Jeavon’s mount hit the front at the 17th and held their renewed challenges on the flat.
Ballina Lady’s past record indicates she has trouble staying 3-miles so the opposition were not unduly worried when Lilly Pinchin had established a 20-length lead by the 3rd and were a fence clear with a circuit to go.
The mare showed no signs of stopping down the back straight and her rivals realised too late that the situation was irredeemable.
Ballina Lady was slowing when she made a mistake at the last, but this made little difference as she scooted home a distance clear of the opposition.
Stow on the Wold based Seanin McPherson trains the winner for her husband Graeme with the latter praising Lilly Pinchin for her judgement of pace.
Asked if it was the plan to make the running McPherson commented “Yes – but I did not expect her to be so far in front at halfway. I don’t think she stays 3 miles so I said to Lilly you should be OK if you can hang on until the top of the hill”.
The horse is normally ridden by Callum McBride but he has recently had an operation on his jaw so Lilly has been the beneficiary”.
The meeting started well for favourite backers when Summer Sounds and Luke Scott lead throughout the Conditions. Carrig Dubh ran his usual honest race in an effort to provide Brooke Gardener-Wollen with her first success but they had to give best to Fran Nimmo’s runner in the home straight.
Summer Sounds and Luke Scott claim the Conditions
One of the Area’s unsung heroes – Our Banner Man Neville Hackett receives a small token of appreciation for Area Secs Nickie Sheppard and Sam Lutton Hughes
Brooke Gardener-Wollen receives the Hanley Mill sponsored Novice Riders Award from sponsor Belinda Palfrey
Photo’s – Graham Fisher, Tim Sage and Pete Mansell
1ST SUMMER SOUNDS L SCOTT 6-4
2ND CARRIG DUBH
1ST MASTER HIDE J JEAVONS 12-1
2ND JEANS LADY
3RD R BREN
1ST Tb BROKE HER MISS H LEWIS 11-4
2ND BALLYBOKER BREEZE
3RD WELL METT
1ST STONE S JUKES EVENS
2ND KNIGHT BACHELOR
3RD GET RHYTHM
1ST BALLINA LADY MISS L PINCHIN 3-1
2ND CUP OF GOLD
3RD THE KITCHENMECANIC
1ST ROUND ROBIN MISS A BANKS 9-2
2ND FELTON BELLEVUE
3RD DOVER THE MOON
Thanks to fellow PRO’s for their reports from
BERKS AND BUCKS DRAGHOUDS AT KINGSTON BLOUNT
It was a red-letter day, too, for Justin Brotherton, who rode his first-ever winner, on Accord in the Novice Riders’ Race, sponsored by Mark Goggin, over the shorter distance of two miles and five furlongs.
Accord had finished runner-up to Gabrial The Great in a Men’s Open over the same distance here last time after the winner had opened up a long lead, and the pattern looked as if it was going to be repeated when the smooth-jumping favourite went clear with a circuit to race.
However, Justin never let Gabrial The Great out of his sights, closed on the leader three out, and after he hit the front at the penultimate fence, the result was never in doubt. He went on to score by 20 lengths, with Breezy Kin running on from the rear to be a further ten lengths back in third.
The winner is owned and trained by professional trainer David Bridgwater, who admitted, “He’s my only horse for pointing and only my second-ever runner. In fact, I think that when I came here two weeks ago, it was the first time I’d ever been to a Point-to-Point! He lost his way under Rules,” said David when asked about the switch. “We thought we’d try something different, but we’ll probably go back to Rules racing now. Justin’s always wanted to ride a winner – that’ll make his life!” smiled David, who trains a string of about 30 at Icomb, Gloucestershire, and is best-known for Gold Cup-placed The Giant Bolster. “I just let him get on with it and he rode Accord slightly differently to last time. The horse jumps well and I thought he’d win.”
Justin, who works for David and is the son of Worcestershire trainer Roy, breathed a sigh of relief as he said, “It’s been a long time coming and it’s a great feeling. My ambition was to run well on my first ride back and win on my second! I learnt from last time not to let Gabrial The Great get away.”
Justin, 33, who had been placed four times from 14 starts between 2015 on 2017 on his only previous mount, Gold Duster, who he owned himself, explained the reasons for his absence from the saddle. “I moved house and changed jobs, but I always wanted to have another one to ride. Bridgy’s only had him in for seven weeks, he’s put a lot of work in, and I’ve learnt loads from him.”
The Pangbourne Asphalt Restricted was taken in fine style by James King and Waterloo Warrior, following up a Bredwardine Maiden success last Saturday.
Left in front sooner than the jockey would have liked, after Bluebell Sally fell at the final open ditch, he maintained his advantage and – despite a couple of slow jumps – was unchallenged to beat Sandygate by 20 lengths, with Mister Buddy a further two-and-a-quarter lengths back in third.
“His class got him home,” said winning trainer Jake Slatter of the seven-year-old, who was placed on multiple occasions for Colin Tizzard under Rules. “I was worried when he was left in front, but having the loose horse for company helped, and he travelled well, although he does like to have a look at his fences.”
Asked how he came by Waterloo Warrior, owned by his mother Angie, Jake – who trains at Toddington, near Cheltenham – explained, “A friend of Mum’s recommended him. I don’t think I’ve done a lot with him but he’ll have a good summer, with some fun rides and hunting to sharpen him up.” Jake admitted that it has been an up-and-down season, with two wins each for Waterloo Warrior and You’re The Man offset by the loss of stable star Bally River Boy.
Winning rider James King was moving on to 15 (including Hunter Chases) for the season and admitted to having a frustrating weekend. “I’ve had four seconds from six rides this weekend before this, so it was good to get off the mark. Waterloo Warrior still thought he was racing under Rules last time and today I didn’t know what to do when the leader fell, and tried to take a pull but wasn’t able to – however, his class got him home.” James currently works for Will Biddick in Somerset but is moving to Olly Murphy’s Stratford yard in the summer and hopes that a central base will give him more opportunities.
WEST SOMERSET VALE AT COTHELSTONE
Josh Newman secured his other winner on outsider Second Chapter for trainer Max Young in the first of the Maidens.
Max, who hails from Worcestershire, only acquired the four-year-old Arcadio gelding a month ago from Ireland and had done little with him bar feed him up, a point which was not missed by Spillers Feed Rep, Kay Scriven, who was there to congratulate her client.
The trainer is certainly developing a knack for acquiring Irish cast-offs via Tommy Dowling and turning them around quickly, having done similar with Aero Majestic at Kingston St Mary on Easter Monday.
A half-brother to Palmers Hill, who won in eye-catching fashion for JP McManus and Jonjo O’Neill at Cheltenham in November, he could now head to the Point-to-Point Sales at Ascot next week and could prove interesting.
Uppertown Hawk is a horse who has shown a liking for this course, and his sub-six-minute time showed he was in no mood for indicating otherwise. He had tried the same tactics under regular pilot Sam Jukes here last time but had bumped into an in-form Jack Snipe and had to settle for second-best.
Market rival Moscow Prices was another with course form and tried to throw down a challenge under Lucy Mager, but the telling early pace had probably been his undoing, and Uppertown Hawk held on by a little over two lengths. Sam, who also trains the horse for Clive Bennett, felt the fresh ground on the inside of the course was quicker, and kept his fast-ground-loving horse as tight to the rails as possible.