Phil Rowley and his team spent much of Saturday on an abortive trip to Cambridgeshire where they faced a last-minute cancellation due to frost. 24 hours later the Bridgnorth trainer had cause for celebration with 3 winners during Sundays Albrighton & Woodland (North) fixture at Chaddesley Corbett.
The season still has a long way to run but Rowley and jockey Alex Edwards are setting a strong pace which their rivals are having difficulty matching and these successes allowed them to consolidate their positions at the head of the Trainers and Jockeys Championships.
The Worcestershire course was in excellent condition having avoided the heavy rain which had been predicted the previous day, but it still played to the strengths of certain horses, while racegoers had to contend with a bitterly cold wind which nullified the warming effects of the sun.
The meeting started well for Rowley’s Bridgnorth stable when Optimised justified favouritism in the 2-1/2 mile Maiden.
Mistercobar held the lead as the field started out onto their second circuit, but as with all good jockeys Edwards always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. The two leaders had drawn 5-lengths clear as they turned to face the judge, but Mistercobar was struggling to maintain contact approaching the second from home.
Optimised and Alex Edwards stride clear of Mistercobar (left) to open his account in the 2-1/2 mile Maiden
Optimised soon opened up a race winning lead, increased his advantage between the final two fences and was good value for his 15-lengths success.
Optimised puts in a perfect jump at the last
The 6-year-old was purchased at Goffs in September 2017, with just 2 placed efforts from 11 runs for previous trainer Gordan Elliott and the Gigginstown clan. Rowley said afterwards “He is such a lovely mover and is well over 17 hands and being by Stowaway we thought he needed time”, while the jockey reported “he will have no problem staying 3 miles and handled the ground well”.
Geoff Bowker with the winning trophy
Having open his account over this course at Christmas, Battle Dust was surprisingly beaten on his next outing at Thorpe Lodge, but conditions seemed to be more favourable here and he bounced back with a hard-fought win over Distime in the Mens Open.
His chief market rival Colorado Doc got loose in the preliminaries and was subsequently withdrawn but Battle Dust did not have things all his own way with a strong pace set by the returning Gunmoney who lead for a majority of the race before starting to back pedal up the final hill.
Battle Dust (red and white) draws level with Distime as they race towards the last
Chasforgold held every chance until his limitations were exposed as Distime and Battle Dust asserted in the home straight. There was little between the two leaders over the final two obstacles, but Rowley’s runner eased clear on the run to the line.
Nothing in it at the last, but Battle Dust drew clear of his rival on the flat
Mac’s Gift had also been beaten at Thorpe Lodge but was another to appreciate the testing conditions at Chaddeseley Corbett. Ballycahane was preferred in the betting but the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate was run at a sedate pace so all six runners held chances until the race for home began over the final half mile.
The two market rivals had the race to themselves in the home straight before the favourite made an error at the 17th, which left Mac’s Gift with a clear advantage, but approaching the last his stride began to shorten.
With the door left ajar, Milo Herbert and Ballycahane inched closer to their rival and but Alex Edwards experience enabled Macs Gift to claim a narrow victory over their fast finishing rival.
Macs Gift on his way back to the winners enclosure
This success provided a double for owner Geoff Bowker who had won with Optimised earlier in the afternoon and a treble for Rowley and Edwards which cemented their places at the head of both the West Midland Area and National Trainers and Jockeys Championship.
Vasco du Mee’s level of form seemed to give him a strong chance in the Ladies Open but after being prominent for most of the contest, Josephine Banks runner could not match their rival’s efforts over the final three fences. Meanwhile, her sister Abigail was getting a fine tune out of Well Mett who had his rivals at full stretch for the second half of the contest, but was unable to resist Ni Sin E Mo Ainm and Alexandra Bell’s challenge over the final two fences.
Ni Sin E Mo Ainm races towards the last ahead of Well Mett (pale blue ) cap and Vasco du Mee – The winner is clear at the last – Well Mett and Vasco du Mee return to unsaddle
Welsh trained runners took the Dodson & Horrell sponsored Novice Riders and 3-mile Maiden with William Money and Charlie Breekie.
Charlie Breekie (stripes) shows ahead of Draft Pick (checked sleeves) and Cona River
Connor Brace is one of the rising stars of the season and showed an immaculate sense of timing by producing William Money to take the lead on the final bend and easing clear of his rivals with George Daly and Sacre Toi running on to claim the runners up spot.
Cona River and Draft Pick looked set for a good battle in the closing stages of the 3-mile Maiden but Charlie Breekie and Bradley Gibbs swooped past them at the second from home and stormed clear for an impressive win.
Photo’s – Graham Fisher and Pete Mansell
2-1/2 MILE MAIDEN
1ST OPTIMISED A EDWARDS 8-11 FAV
1ST SEAMUSJAY T MCCLOREY 10-1
3RD LILY’S GOT WINGS
1ST BATTLE DUST A EDWARDS 4-5 FAV
1ST NI SIN E MO AINM MISS A BELL 9-4
2ND WELL METT
3RD VASCO DU MEE
1ST WILLIAM MONEY C BRACE 6-4
2ND SACRE TOI
3RD SENOR ALCO
1ST CHARLIE BREEKIE B GIBBS 7-2
2ND DRAFT PICK
3RD CONA RIVER
1ST MACS GIFT A EDWARDS 7-4
3RD OUR MILLY ACRES