Brooke Gardener-Wollen took over training duties at Old Sodbury in late 2017 whilst her boyfriend Charlie Dando was recovering from a horrific pheasant shooting accident. Although it took a bit of time to get up to speed, it wasn’t long before the rookie handler recorded her first training victory at Didmarton, with Carrig Dubh securing back-to-back wins at the Duke of Beaufort Hunt Point-to-Point meeting. Although she still insists that she predominantly does it for fun, this doesn’t detract from her desire for success, recently admitting that ‘it’s no fun if you always come last’.
The yard’s horses always tend to look the part, and having secured 18 best turned-out awards in 2019, she clearly takes great pride in her pointers. Although they are currently responsible for just a small string of competitors at their Gloucestershire base, they have also recently acquired a couple of former Rules runners with Haydock winner Ravensdale and Ludlow regular According to Harry both joining the yard at the beginning of 2020.
The latter became an instant hit and got off to the perfect start with a convincing victory in the Duke of Beaufort Members race at the beginning of March. The aggressive tactics deployed by Dando saw the 11-year old hit the front with six fences left to jump, and the former hurdler stuck to task on the flat to hold off a late challenge from the fast-finishing Fly West. This triumph enabled the family to finally celebrate their first-ever victory in the contest, with the winning jockey ensuring that his partner Gardener-Wollen was given the lion’s share of the plaudits.
According to Harry is no stranger to Point-to-Point racing having featured at both Trebudannon and Stafford Cross at the beginning of 2019. The gelding also began his career on the Devon PTP scene, securing victories at numerous venues including Wadebridge and Black Forest Lodge.
The hardy chaser still has plenty to offer, and Gardener-Wollen’s yard will be expecting the former Phillip Hobbs runner to build upon his Didmarton success when the Point-to-Point season gets back underway later this year. He accumulated over £20,000 of prize money under rules, and was regularly partnered by champion jockey Richard Johnson. Two of his three victories came under the jurisdiction of the imperious 42-year old, and as one of the most prolific riders in the history of National Hunt Racing, the Hereford-born pilot’s name can often be found on Paddy Power’s horse racing results page throughout the winter months.
At the beginning of 2017, According to Harry was narrowly beaten by Opening Batsman in Ludlow’s Racing UK Handicap Chase before finally scoring at the Shropshire track in the Grade 3 H R Smith Group Ltd Handicap Chase. His final outing under rules came at Fontwell in June 2018, pulling up at the tenth after struggling to keep pace with eventual winner I See You Well.
Having been sired by Old Vic, the experienced competitor isn’t averse to a stamina test, and although the majority of his recent assignments have been over the three-mile trip, he’s also proved equally adept at tackling slightly longer distances. The 11-year-old is also versatile when it comes to underfoot conditions, although the majority of his victories have been on good ground.
Gardener-Wollen and Dando look set to enjoy plenty more success with their recent arrival. It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see him return to Didmarton in March 2021 in a bid to land successive victories at the Gloucestershire track. Although he may not be getting any younger, this experienced thoroughbred undoubtedly has an exciting future back in this sphere and PTP fans are looking forward to seeing him back in action in late 2020.