Andoversford Races attracted a good crowd on Sunday afternoon, where there were a host of activities and stalls to keep everyone occupied which meant the wet weather failed to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm.
Sam Jukes enjoyed a successful day with a double on Stone (Men’s Open) and The Well Road (Intermediate). As well as the trophies for those wins, he also took away a host of other prizes including the Dubarry Award for the Outstanding Performance of the day and the Brewin Dolphin sponsored Leading Trainer Award following these victories.
Stone won at this meeting 12 months ago and was made favourite to do so again but did it the hard way by leading from start to finish.
Squirrel Esquire moving into a threatening position as they left the back straight, but it is a long hard slog up the final hill at Andoversford and even more so in the prevailing conditions – having said that it was a challenge that Stone and Jukes seemed to relish.
Stone and Squirrel Esquire went nose to nose and hoof to hoof from the second last but Jukes managed to secure the inside berth around the final bend and this often proves crucial as challengers are forced to take a wider path.
Stone came to the last with a narrow advantage and with neither horse willing to go down without a fight the result was in doubt until the line where the judge ruled that Stone had prevailed by half a length.
Stone (pink) and Sam Jukes are just getting the better of Squirrel Esquire at the last
Clive Bennett and his wife Eileen rarely miss a local fixture. Their son Will explained the absence as his father was visiting his wife in hospital where she is receiving treatment for respiratory problems. He phoned them with the good news and it is hoped this success provides a fillip to aid in her recovery.
There was more good news for the Bennett’s because 35 minutes later connections were back in the winner’s enclosure following The Well Roads victory in the Intermediate.
The Well Road went into the lead at flag fall but was pursued throughout the first circuit by Midnight Monkey while Milo Herbert was content to anchor the well fancied Ballycahane in third place.
They moved into the leader’s slipstream at the third from home and looked poised to challenge but The Well Road was in his element when they hit the rising ground and pilled on the pressure and extended his advantage to win 25-lengths despite easing right down on the flat.
The Well Road leads Ballycahane at halfway – Will Bennett receives the trophy on behalf of his parents – Sam Jukes receives one of his numerous prizes on what was a red letter day for the Dymock based rider from Rebecca Grant Jones from Rendcomb College
The meeting started with the surprise defeat of the odds on favourite Premier Portrait in the 10-years-and-over Conditions race. The 11-year-old came into this race with a much better level of form than all of his rivals but the sport is a great leveller and when Harry Homer and Out Now poached a 12-length lead down the back straight the favourite looked in trouble.
The final hill at Andoversford has changed the result of many races over the years and it did so again as Billy Alprahim and High Kite came with a well-timed run to catch their tiring rival just before the final bend, Premier Portrait finished like a train but found it impossible to make up the 4-length deficit from the last.
Premier Portrait’s rider Gus Levinson found himself in a similar situation in the Restricted. Upton Venture was prominent for the first circuit along with the Andrew Campbell trained Light Flicker who took the lead at the 10th.
Light Flicker (green) is clinging onto a slender lead from Toby Maguire approaching the last
Levinson’s mount Toby Maguire looked dangerous in the final half mile and these two had a tremendous battle all the way up the final hill and into the home straight before the favourite got on top in the final 25 yards.
Gus is based with Paul Nicholls at Ditcheat and is having a year out before continuing his studies. Toby Macquire who was sourced with the help of Tessa Greatrex, was winning his second race following a victory at Charlton Horthorne earlier in the season.
Gus Levinson receives the Award presented in memory of Sarah Stafford from her mother Ann Arkell
The Ladies Open provided yet another close and exciting finish. Western Diva had won her last two races but was beaten with half a mile to run, where the front running tactics of Maybe Plenty had all her rivals at full stretch.
Katy Lyons mount started off up the hill with a useful lead but Brodie Hampson was getting a response from Hellorboston so there was very little between the two horses as they turned for home. Brodie Hampson’s mount had fitness on his side having won at Brafield a couple of weeks ago, whereas Maybe Plenty was returning after a long absence and that proved crucial in the closing stages.
Hellorboston (yellow – Brodie Hampson) battling it out with Maybe Plenty at the last in the Ladies
The Maiden went to the un-raced 4-year-old Eurobot who prevailed in the capable hands of Gina Andrews. The 5-strong field departed minus Howld Your Whist who refused to start and then got rid of his jockey as the runners made their way towards the first.
Milliondollarman’s effort petered out at halfway while Brookthorpe Taylor did his best to stay in touch with Eurobot until the considerable weight allowance took effect up the final hill which allowed the winner to stride clear and claim an uncontested victory.
1ST HIGH KITE W APRAHAMIAN 20-1
2ND PREMIER PORTRAIT
3RD OUT NOW
1ST TOBY MAGUIRE G LEVINSON 4-6 FAV
2ND LIGHT FLICKER
3RD THYNE FOR RUDA
1ST HELLORBOSTON MISS B HAMPSON 16-1
2ND MAYBE PLENTY
3RD VINNE RED
1ST STONE S JUKES 4-5 FAV
2ND SQUIRREL ESQUIRE
3RD MISTER DICK
1ST THE WELL ROAD S JUKES EVENS
(ONLY 2 FINISHED)
1ST EUROBOT MISS G ANDREWS 4-5 FAV
2ND BROOKTHORPE TAYLOR
Droitwich owner-trainer Max Young was all smiles after Rogue Diamond gave him his first winner when scoring on her debut in the 2-1/2 mile Mares Maiden.
Victory looked unlikely as Zac Baker sat out at the back on the five-year-old daughter of Wareed while Night At Tara, Hello Jazz and Thirdtimeben vied for supremacy.
But the complexion of the race changed rapidly as the leaders faded in the home straight and Rogue Diamond, who was acquired from Dave Shorey in Ireland, took up the running at the last to record an eight-lengths verdict.
Young, 27, had his first runner three years ago and was getting off the mark at the 20th attempt.
“I am absolutely delighted,” he said. “It was a bit squeaky going down the back, and I was not sure whether she would get there, but to be fair she couldn’t have won any easier.
“She is a big mare and has muscled up well and done a lot of conditioning and I knew if she bobbed round she would be thereabouts.”
Young, who also rides out for Henry Oliver as well as training his own string of 12, added that he may send the half-sister of Quwetwo to the Aintree Sales this week.
Baker added: “She has run a blinder and I hope she makes a lot of money because she’s a nice horse.”
The Teme Valley and United meeting defied the elements and other challenges after the go-ahead was given following a 10-30 a.m. inspection. Stamina was at a premium with the exception of the Ladies all the other 3-mile races took over 7 minutes.
Many people had cause to admire the perseverance of the organisers who refused to succumb to a myriad of problems with the stables of Phil Rowley and Diana Ralph, plus jockey James Kings both recording doubles.
Both yards are based in the Bridgnorth Area, the former at Morville and the latter at Billingsley and it was Rowley who set his ball rolling when Stoleaway took the Confined under Alex Edwards.
The winner had beaten Owen Glendower at Bangor and the runner up subsequently went on to win a Ladies Open at Tabley, so the form has some substance. The race proved a war of attrition between Stoleaway and Jungle Legend, with the former having the race in safe keeping before his rival unseated his rider just before the line. The Ralph runner Drumhart running in the colours of Pat Tollit made an encouraging debut to finish third.
Stoleaway and Alex Edwards clear the last at Brampton Bryan and add another winner to this seasons total
The Rowley stable had two representatives in the Restricted, but they were out of luck in this contest when Gadrose finished fourth “apparently hating the ground”, while stablemate Pique Rock fell at the last, with the race going to the Diana Ralph trained Encounter A Giant.
He eased past the front running Double You Be in the home straight to take the Restricted by 24-lengths and add to his already impressive C.V. “He was bought privately in Ireland,” said Alastair Ralph of Bill Hawkins’ 6-year-old. “Very green when he arrived but getting the hang of it!”
Encounter A Giant puts his rivals to the sword in the Restricted
The Ralph yard were back in the winner’s enclosure 30 minutes later after Old Pride had scored an all the way success under James King in the 2-1/2 mile Men’s Open. The winner will now be aimed at Cheltenham’s Hunter Chase evening.
The second leg of a James King double – Old Pride in the Mens Open
There were some useful types on show in the Mares Maiden but it did not produce the result most people expected with the Sophie Lacey trained Hattie Hopkinson expected to improve on her second place at Brocklesby Park earlier in the year.
Tortuga Bay is off to the Aintree Sales after winning at Brampton Bryan
She had to settle for fourth behind the Rowley trained and Edwards ridden Tortuga Bay who proved too good for Clive Bennetts Miss Seagreen, but it was the latter who came out of the race with more kudos as she was attempting to give the winner 17lbs.
Miss Seagreen looks an exiciting prospect for Clive and Eileen Bennett
Winning connections said afterwards of their beautifully bred 4-year-old. “She is a lovely mare, and I’ll be really sorry to see her sold,” said trainer Phillip Rowley, of the daughter of Sulamani. Phillip is intending to pull out all the stops to see Alex Edwards as national leading rider. “We’re all a great team at home, I’m really lucky –we really are a team, we discuss everything, and Michaela, my head-girl is key to the operation.”
38-year-old Royal Navy officer Vicki Sollitt rode her first winner when Spanish Arch romped home at the Old Berkshire Hunt meeting at Lockinge on Easter Monday.
Sollitt who hails from Tewkesbury, owns, trains and rides the 11-year-old gelding which she brought out of Martin Keighley’s yard to ride in the Royal Artillery and Grand Military Gold Cups and has now provided her with a first success in the PPORA Conditions Race on only her fourth ride between the flags.
Sollitt set sail for home approaching the third-last fence, and Spanish Arch galloped on powerfully through the tacky ground to pass the post 25 lengths clear of Pithivier. “I am absolutely delighted,” said Sollitt, who is based at Abbey Wood, near Bristol.
Victoria Sollitt and Spanish Arch on their way to victory at Lockinge and were followed by Mistercobar later in the afternoon
“He gave me two amazing spins round Sandown and also round Chaddesley Corbett. He jumped straight as a dye. He is a lovely horse to own, train and ride because he loves this job. When I pressed the button and asked him to go he found another gear and kept travelling and I thought ‘oh my gosh this is fantastic’.”
Wellesbourne trainer Fred Hutsby was impressed by the manner of Mistercobar’s pillar-to-post victory in the 2m 5f Restricted.
The six-year-old, owned by the Droitwich-based Wayward Pilgrims Partnership headed by Bob Sealey, forged clear when the Worcestershire qualified gelding was given the office by Sam Lee and followed up his recent Kingston Blount maiden win with a three-lengths success over Order in Court.
Hutsby said: “What I liked was when Sam went for him from two out he quickened and got the race won.
I would like to see him on better ground. He won his maiden and we didn’t know what he beat, but now he has won like that he might be alright.”
Lee added: “I am convinced he wants good ground, but he will probably make a mockery of me when it comes good. He is a honest horse and gives you everything and I love him for it. He showed he could go up in grade.”
Reports from other meetings were provided by Russell Smith and Stella Havard
Photo’s – Graham Fisher and Pete Mansell