Category Archives: News

Mercian raiders plunder the borders in long distance strikes

According to the script of Braveheart, Edward “Longshanks” I had no trepidation about crossing the border into Scotland and subduing the Scots on their own turf. I’m less than convinced that he was so full of self-confidence in reality, as Scotland has always been a harsh milieu in which to win. To say the Scots are tribal is an understatement.

Is it still the same today I asked myself as I saw runners from deepest Worcestershire making the long trek to the lowlands of Ayr, barely inside the Scottish border. This is a racecourse where the likes of Lucinda Russell, Nicky Richards (himself a Sassenach from Penrith) and the outlier Donald McCain (at least he has the right name) rule the roost. Not much room for a soft southerner.

And yet the afternoon turned out well enough. Two favourites obliged for the counties known for apples and rivers, when Michael Scudamore opened the programme with a pillar to post victory for smart novice hurdler Lebowski under Richard Patrick. The six year old, who ran creditably for Adrian Wintle last season, never saw another horse in a head-in-chest victory in which he was never seriously challenged. The 3l winning distance is not a true reflection of his authority over the other 11 runners. Expect to see Lebowski in more exalted company soon.

Michael Scudamore, successful today at Ayr
Michael Scudamore, successful today at Ayr

Scudamore Jnr might have driven away from Ayr with a double were it not for Sam Drinkwater a few miles eastward. The 3m Join RacingTV Limited Novices Handicap Chase was run in a different manner, but Scudamore’s Cadeyrn was never going to reel in French-bred Buzz de Turcoing, whose ears were flapping back and forth as he jumped the last two, indicating the horse thought quite enough effort had been made to date. Drinkwater’s last two runners have been winners.

Doubles apiece for Russell and Richards maintained business as usual at the most westerly course in Scotland, although as Peter Scudamore is Lucinda Russell’s partner, it turned out a pretty good day for the Scudamore family all told.

Meantime, Caroline Robinson has been flying the flag for the Albrighton in the border country, after a long trip to Hexham for the Border Hunt Point-to-Point paid off when daughter Immy scooped the Conditions race on Sunday’s card by 7l with Ryan’s Fancy.

New bonus scheme rewards Point-to-Point youngsters under Rules

Emerging online auction house Thoroughbid has introduced an innovative Point-to-Point bonus, called Point2Rules. The scheme offers horses aged 4, 5 and 6 sold in a ThoroughBid auction the chance to land a £5,000 bonus for their new connections if going on to win their first start under rules. In addition, any graduate of a British Point-to-Point winning on their rules debut will qualify for an extra £10,000.

Leading Point-to-Point trainer Charlie Poste was delighted with the news and said: “I think it’s a fantastic incentive. To say to buyers that there’s a very realistic chance they can recoup a good chunk of their purchase price within 12 months is a big carrot, and even more so if you’re buying British.

“Fair play to ThoroughBid for throwing their weight behind the Point-to-Point scene and coming up with something innovative. It’s definitely something I’ll look to support.”

To qualify for the bonus, horses must not have run in any race other than an English or Irish sanctioned Point-to-Point Steeplechase or Point-to-Point Bumper and the subsequent win under rules, Hunter Chases excluded, must fall within 12 months of the date of the ThoroughBid sale in which the horse was sold. Bonuses to be split: 60% owner, 20% trainer and 20% stable staff.

ThoroughBid’s next auction, the first sale where the new Point2Rules Bonus will apply, is the Christmas Sale on Sunday 19th December and entries close on Friday 10th December, just two days before the International at Barbury. The Avon Vale stages a Bumper and a four & five year olds maiden from which winners can qualify.

Will Kinsey, co-founder of ThoroughBid, said “In recent years the Point-to-Point market has seen huge growth, not only in sales but also its importance within the industry. These bonuses are borne out of ThoroughBid’s desire to support vendors and provide another avenue for them to sell their stock.”

Belfast Banter, sold to race in the USA
Belfast Banter, sold to race in the USA

ThoroughBid’s presence in the bloodstock world continues to grow, most recently successful in selling Grade 1-winning hurdler Belfast Banter for £130,000. The winner of the County Hurdle and Aintree’s Top Novices is headed to the USA to continue his career in east coast steeplechasing.

NIMROD VETERINARY FORMS PARTNERSHIP WITH WEST MERCIAN AREA

 

 

Nimrod Veterinary Products is an innovator in medicines and other veterinary products for horses.  The company is to embark on a new partnership with National Hunt Point-to-Point fixtures across the West Mercian counties.

The partnership will provide veterinary care at each of the 21 fixtures of the West Mercian Point-to-Point Association, covering meetings across six counties: Gloucestershire, Hereford & Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, and Warwickshire.  The grand finale at Stratford racecourse in May 2022 is built largely on the support of the West Mercian counties.

The Nimrod organization was founded by David Renney, a veterinary surgeon and former Point-to-Point rider.  This experience provides Nimrod with a unique insight into the world in which horse vets are working.  Nimrod’s products for horses comprise pharmaceuticals, and fluid-therapy and diagnostic products.

The West Mercian Point-to-Point Association, chaired by Jim Squires, who is Clerk of Course across multiple West Mercian fixtures, and whose secretary is Nickie Sheppard, wife of Ledbury National Hunt trainer Matt, has been a market leader in innovation in the sport, from introducing digital ticketing to creative partnerships.

Jim remarked, ”Our fixtures have largely been largely side-lined during two seasons when first weather then Covid contrived to thwart us. Yet there remains an undercurrent of enthusiasm for grass roots racing of this kind that remains undimmed, whether you are an owner of horses, rider or trainer, or a fan. We look forward to Nimrod’s support helping us get these events back to full strength this winter.”

A SEASON FULL OF HOPE

The Pandemic has taught us the value of the old adage “Where there is a will, there is a way”.

This should be adopted as the motto for the Point-to-Point Authority who worked wonders to keep the show on the road for the past 2 seasons. That experience will prove beneficial, if a similar situation arises again at any time in the future.

We are constantly being told we are not out of the woods yet but recent signs are encouraging, although caution will be the byword over the coming months, but optimism should eventually prevail, and West Mercian stables will play their part in the sports revival.

Phil Rowley – Morville
Phil Rowley qualified horses qualified in the old North West and West Midlands Area so will be keen to land his first West Mercian Area Trainers Title. 24 Point-to-Pointers are listed on the website he shares with his wife Mel who is responsible for their runners under Rules.

The established performers include Ballykan whose performances did not match expectations last year so sights may have to be set a little lower, with Michaela Tallett putting his experience to good use in Novice Races. Tallett hit the bar with Killiney Court on a couple of occasions last year but their first win together is proving illusive.

Salvatore scored on his seasonal debut at Larkhill last year and beat the Nicholls hotpot Arcala in a Musselburgh Hunter Chase. He was always struggling in the Cheltenham Foxhunters and ran disappointingly when an odds-on favourite at Chepstow.

Vivaldi Collonges was fourth behind his stablemate at Larkhill but turned round the form with the runner up Conningsby when they met at Maisemore Park later in the season. An impressive win followed at Kingston Blount before he met Don Bersy on a going day when making a return visit to the course a few weeks later.

Vivaldi Collonges carried the colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede under Rules as did Dragon D’Estruval who has moved Willie Mullins stable. Valtor comes from the same source and has won over £4000,000 in win and place money, but his form has dropped off recently.

Burndown has come from Gigginstown, while Complete Sizing joins from Jim Dreaper, so both horses are used to competing at the highest level.

Burndown won just once from fifteen outings under Rules and that was a Hurdle back in 2016. Complete Sizing won his first four Point-to-Points and was favourite to beat Some Man at Down Royal and that represents a high level of form.

Forest Chimes was second when unseating his rider at the last in a Chaddesley Maiden and was placed behind Williewonga at Sandon and also finished in the runners up spot at Tabley. Connections are known for their patience and should be rewarded in the long run.

Optimised was runner up to Saualito Sunrise at Sandon, but a more organised campaign will maximize his chances of success.

Newcomers include the Mickley Studs Achtung Baby who was purchased for £26,000 at Goffs Store Sales. This youngster was bred by Robert and Jackie Chugg at Little Lodge Farm in Worcestershire as was stablemate Galassian.

Bold Princess weakened quickly and was pulled up in two Irish Points and was subsequently offered for sale, while Epitafio was led out unsold at Goff’s Summer Sales in 2020.

Goldenbrave made a good start to his career when beating Organised Solution at Bangor in January 2020 but failed to build on that success at Horseheath a few weeks later.

Irish imports Mystic Man and Outlaw Dream will need to improve on their previous form although the former showed promise when 8-lengths third in a Tipperary Maiden, while Outlaw Dream fell on his debut before finishing third on a retrieval mission at Dawnstown.

Rowley has several newcomers including two that are due to carry the late Trevor Hemmings colours. Both are by Soldier of Fortune and because of their connections are sure to attract plenty of attention.

Ease and Grace was a useful performer in her time and has bred some useful progeny for Bob Barrett including one from this year’s intake by Blue Bresil. A three-year-old filly by Mount Nelson out of Hopeful Gleam completes the team.

Nickie Sheppard – Eastnor
16-year-old Fred Philipson Stow makes his race riding debut this year. The youngster is the grandson of Gay Kinnersley, who won the Amateur Jockeys Title in 1959-1960 before breaking his back at Stratford in 1955 and again at Hurst Park in 1962. He famously ignored doctors’ advice to stop riding and carried on until he eventually retired in 1969 and started training at East Garston.

Mr Caffrey an ex-inmate of Dr Richard Newlands stable is entrusted with the task of providing the Kings School Gloucester pupil with experience during the formative stages of his career.

The Herbert family have enjoyed a successful association with Nickie Sheppard with Organised Solution, who ended last season with an easy win at Tabley.

With Risk and Roll departing connections have purchase another horse for their son Milo to ride. Sky Marshall showed consistent form in Ireland winning or being placed in just under half of the 34 races and looks the type to improve in his new yard.

Milo’s brother Ivor starts riding this year on a horse called Welsh’s Castle. He has won Point-to-Points at Horseheath and Brocklesby Park, but struggled under Rules for Ben Case and may appreciate the switch back to this level.

Max Comley – Naunton
Max Comley’s move to Brockhill Quarry coincided with the pandemic but he has all the facilities available to make the move a success and being able to match out a clear strategy for each horse will be beneficial.

Knockaderry Flyer was suited by the stiff uphill finish at Mollington where he staged a fightback having been passed by Waterloo Warrior in the home straight, and may require similar conditions to score again.

Madame Verity started joint favourite for a Larkhill Flat race last year and should have learnt from that experience. The Allsops have a newcomer by Kayf Tara out of Aunt Harriet to race between the flags. They will be joined by another of that mares’ products but this one is by Multiplex.

Clondaw Bunny ran seven times last year, his best performance was being placed third in a Revesby Park Intermediate, while stablemate Prove Me Wrong will be hoping to do that as he showed nothing in his two most recent outings.

Rockingham South ran a promising race when a neck and half a length third in a 2-1/2 mile Maiden at Tabley and the winner Go on Chez has been since been successful under Rules so that form is probably better than the form book suggests.

Comley is Finnick Glory’s third trainer in that horse’s short career. Having been beaten by Jimmy the D in a bumper it is possible he could prove a bargain, with the trainer reporting that he has been schooling nicely and could progress throughout the season.

Call His Bluff’s three runs in 2021 yielded three seconds. The closest he came to success was when a neck second at Worcester in the summer and on that form a Maiden looks a formality.

Homing Star has made the short journey across from Graeme McPhersons yard at Stow on the Wold to Naunton. Now a 6-year-old he won on the flat back in 2018 and followed that by finishing second at Warwick and Stratford when at the bottom of the handicap.

Comley also has four youngsters, a Sageburg by Last Sunrise (well related – but won’t be out before the spring), Champs Elysee by Isityourself, Conduit by Hathamore (has been exciting trainer) and finally a Walk in the Park by Persian Heroine (great attitude and very touch).

Heidi Brookshaw – Market Drayton
Many of the stables old favourites remain including Bletchley Castle who finished behind Gardeville at Ludlow. The trainer must have been sick of the sight of that horse because Duke of Arcadio efforts to lead all the way were thwarted when he was caught in the final strides by the same horse at Tabley.

Ballyrath gave his best performance when beating Green Winter in the Radnor 4-miler back in 2019 but will struggle to regain that level of form, while Delegate has shown ability of shorter distances so connections may need to scour the planner to find suitable opportunities.

Giovanni Medice can only improve after pulling up in a three runner Maiden at Bangor in January 2020, while Karezak was pulled up at Charm Park and his best efforts under rules were over shorter distances.

Iftiraaq put in two good performances towards the end of last year when chasing home Hazel Hill in his Members and finishing runner up to For Rita at Tabley soon afterwards.

Spectacular Rival showed promise when fourth behind Willy Wonga at Sandon and looks a future winner based on that performance, while Salven won a Maiden on the now defunct Hereford Point-to-Point course back in April 2019.

Sam Cavalerro has been the flag bearer for this yard for several years but is swimming against the tide trying to win at 15 years of age, while a newcomer by Dylan Thomas out of Bathwick Lucy is at the opposite end of the scale as they are just starting their career.

Tor Collins – Broadway
Owner Sarah Dawson and trainer Tor Collins have enjoyed considerable success over the past decade, although Sarah has been involved in the sport for much longer than that.

Sarah is keen on the chances of a Maiden called Welsh Rarebit who she acquired from Lucinda Egerton. An 8-year-old by Dylan Thomas he finished three and a half lengths behind the winner in a novice hurdle at Ayr and might be worth following if he can reproduce that form in Points.

Dawson expects China Flower to have benefitted from a Covid enforced break, but it takes a leap of faith to see her making her mark between the flags, as there is no form to speak off following six runs for Toby Lawes.

Zamparelli was successful in a 2-1/2 mile Hunter Chase at Ludlow where he came with a storming late run under Lucy Turner before falling behind Marcle Ridge at Cheltenham.

Bandsman’s final run of the season was his best as he finished third in a short Tabley Mixed Open getting within 5-lengths of More Bucks – that indicates better things to come.

Solomon Grey is interesting as he had good form under Rules for Dan Skelton, including when starting favourite for a Uttoxeter Hurdle earlier in the year, and he will need to match that to make his mark between the flags.

Recently the owner explained “I have six maidens and as I bred the horses, I’ve wasted my money if I don’t run them. These include Flick the Switch who fell at the first in his first race in points. Galavantin is owned by Martin Haines and will need to step up on his last run at Kimble when he was pulled up half a mile from home.

Jake Slatter – Toddington
Slatter took a lion share of the trophies at the recent Area Awards, but is likely to struggle to repeat that feat again this year.

Waterloo Warrior had to concede weight to a majority of his rivals in all of his races last season, but performed with credit. His efforts included trying to concede 6 lb to Golden Tobourgan (beaten half a length and a short head at the Ledbury) and put in an even better performance when beaten a head trying to give 10 lbs to Getting Closer at Wadebridge.

Waterloo Warrior ran his only disappointing race when finishing 8th on a return visit to Maisemore Park with a 10 lb penalty. He held a 3-length advantage entering the home straight at Mollington before being beaten by Knockaderry Flyer, and then outclassed his rivals in a Knutsford Conditions off level weights.

Slatter will be responsible for Collett’s new acquisition Jim’s Last Fling, who came over from Ireland in the summer. Given connections eye for a horse, coupled with the trainer’s ability, it would take a brave person to bet against this one opening their account over the next six months.

Will Gaskins – Dymock
Gaskins have just one horse to carry their colours this year, with R Bren sold and enjoying their new career in the Hunting Field.

Tb Broke Her was destined for the paddocks but failed to get in foal, so Gaskins in planning to train the mares himself. Early indications are that she is progressing well and will be fit enough to run at one of the early season meetings, possibly in Novice events with Katie Sinclair in the saddle.

Caroline Robinson – Sheriffhales
The Dellercheckout did well to finish third behind Marcle Ridge at Barbury but was not seen out after pulling up when favourite for a Fakenham Hunter Chase.

Emerald Chieftan gave Guy Sankey some good rides last season and was prominent until pulling up 4 out at Larkhill and then finished last of three in a Sandon Conditions.

Mithmaar can only improve on his Knutsford run when he was pulled up at the 12th in a Maiden, while Ryans Fancy started last season with an impressive win at Bishops Court but subsequent runs set the pattern for the rest of the season.

He pulled up the last after a mistake at the 12th at Revesby, before collecting first prize at Hornby Castle and then reportedly made a noise when pulled up in a Cheltenham Intermediate and finished the season by pulling up at Tabley.

Myoldman returns after a spell on the side-lines. This ex-Irish 9-year-old confirmed the promised he had shown in Ireland by winning a 2-1/2 mile Chaddesley Restricted and finishing a close second at Friars Haugh.

Bestfriend Barnaby is a newcomer for owner Brian Orchard, while Bearhill and Ballymoy have already shown what they are capable of. The former was fourth on his debut for trainer Wilson Dennison, but failed to trouble the judge and was purchased relatively cheaply over the summer.

Ballymoy raced at the highest level for the Muniore and Suede partnership for whom he won 9 times including for for Nigel Twiston Davies at Perth in May before falling at the last when holding every chance at Stratford a few weeks later.

Nick Pearce – Alcester
Pearce who is one of the many cogs in the wheel of Dan Skeltons yard at Lodge Hill stables, Shelfield Green, near Alcester. Experience in race riding has proved beneficial for staff at the yard and Workbench has played a major part in that process in recent years.

Despite advancing years he returns for another season and on the evidence of his two runs at Maisemore Park last year, Murray Dodd, Heidi Palin, George Cowley and Aidan Weaving will all gain from his experience.

He will be joined by Azzuri who has run 52 times and has won or been placed in half of those outings, although most of those have been at distances short of 3-miles. The trio is completed by Mr Love who won three races in a golden period back in 2019. Softer conditions may be required for him to show his best.

Three staff associated with the yard are busy preparing their own horses with Jemma Justice due to make her debut on Knockoutloaded who finished fourth in a hot race at Garthorpe, while Clara Brewitt teams up with Doctor Wong who showed some promise for Tom George.

Finn Mulrine has acquired the ex-Dale Peters trained Bonamargy who ran well on his seasonal debut last year at Sheriff Hutton. He started favourite on that occasion and looked likely to justify his position at the head of the market until folding in the last couple of furlongs.

James Ridley – Ketford
Few horses in training match the consistency of Green Winter who is the apple of Sarah Oliver’s eye. He has made 36 appearances in Point-to-Point since 2014, winning 12, and has been placed on 17 occasions.

After finishing second to the rejuvenated Thumb Stone Blues at Mollington, the 13-year-old son of Well Made gave the best performance of his career by beating the odds-on favourite Dolphin Square in a Huntingdon Hunter Chase.

Crews Pitch was pulled up on unsuitable ground at Chaddesley before winning a Point-to-Point Flat Race at Revesby Park. He then finished runner up in a Goff’s sponsored Bumper at Exeter and fourth in a similar race at Aintree.

Enthusiasts with long memories will recall the exploits of Grimley Gale, winning the Horse and Hound Cup back in 1999. She won 26 races in total, 16 between the flags and 10 under Rules while her daughter Grimley Girl could not match her dams’ exploits. The line continues with a Black Sam Bellamy gelding out of Grimley Girl due to make her racecourse debut this year.

Ellipsism has already run 20 times in his short career winning two 3-mile hurdles back in 2019, while Flying Colum looks a late maturing type. The ex-Mouse Morris 6-year-old ran 5 times over hurdles but has never finished beyond mid-field but he is out of an unraced full sister to Gold Cup winner Synchronised. Darcey Sarto is another bred in the purple as he is out of a winning full sister to Gold Cup winner Kicking King.

Helen Woods Chase Me enjoyed mixed fortunes last year, which started well when he dead heated with Incholm at Chaddesley Corbett. Two unsuccessful forays into Hunter Chases at Leicester and Ludlow followed before he got rid of Will Gough in a Maisemore members. He ground out a win in an Exeter Hunter Chase but found 4 miles too far at Dingley and disappointing at Garthorpe.

The yard has several 4-year-olds for the new campaign such as an un-named youngster by Gentlewave and another by Blue Brasil plus one by Yourgunnabelucky out of 5 times Point-to-Point winner On Holiday. Those with names include Dasher Riley, a 4-year-old by Schiaparelli, Olly Norse who is by Norse Dancer and a 3-year-old filly by Black Sam Bellamy out of Trea Newells Maisemore winner Hopstrings.

Cashmoll had just one run last year when a fast finishing second to Happy Larry at Larkhill. That was an eye-catching performance as she was 4th approaching 2 out and 5-lengths second at the last but ran on tenaciously to be beaten just half a length.

Ben Pauling – Naunton
Pauling is in the process of moving to a new yard adjacent to Naunton Downs Golf Club is it is rumoured he is aiming Le Breuil at Hunter Chases with the Cheltenham Foxhunters as a potential target.

That race should play to his strengths as he won the N.H. Chase at the same venue back in 2019 so will have his supporters in the big event.

Christine Banks – Worcester
For the first time in many years, Christine Banks is unlikely to have any runners following the decision to retire Arthurs Secret and Abi Banks deciding to follow the same path. Her sister Phine is now the proud mother of a baby boy and has to balance those responsibilities with work and getting fit enough to race ride – the latter is likely to be the casualty.

Christine’s mother Pat Tollit is hoping Hidden Charmer can add to her already long list of successes and extended her involvement in the sport.

Katherine Smith-Maxwell – Himbleton
The Smith-Maxwells have provided support for the sport for many years, with their Horse Ambulance Service seen at many Point-to-Points and N.H. Meetings, and the family are closely involved with the Worcestershire Point-to-Point.

Their son John is currently working in Newton Abbott, so it makes sense for their daughter Alex to have Sausalito Sunrise and Blackwater Bramble with her at West Buckland, near Wellington.

Blackwater Bramble enjoyed a purple patch when winning 3 races a couple of seasons ago and was staying on well from two out in an Edgcote Conditions last year. Sausalito Sunrise won the marathon Lord Ashton of Hyde Cup when it was last run at Cocklebarrow back in 2020 and showed his wellbeing with an easy win over Optimised at Sandon last season. Watch out for him when conditions are testing or when the emphasis is on stamina.

Julie Mansell – Hasfield
Shamilan was headed on the post when beaten a short head by Racing Snake at Chaddesley last December, but was unable to build on that and failed to complete the course on three subsequent outings.  That has to be a cause for concern and his seasonal debut prove informative.

The Farmers Arm Syndicate have purchased another horse over the summer with Night Combat part of the Gigginstown clear out. The ex-Noel Meade trained 6-year-olds best effort was when he finished 20-lengths fourth to Cheltenham Champion Bumper winner Sir Gerhard at Down Royal.  The trainer is hoping that Finley’s Find will provide Patsy Page with a few rides early in the season.

Charlie Dando – Little Sodbury
Charlie and his partner Brooke Gardener-Wollen have four horses for the new season, but will struggle to find a race with Carrig Dubh who had two runs last year. Accordingtoharry weakened from three out behind Robin des People and Ballykan at Maisemore in March but would have a good chance in his Members.

The partnership Iftheycanseemenow from Nick Phillips in the adjoining VWH country. The 7-year-old son of Stowaway came with a storming late run to land a 17 runner Larkhill Maiden, but his form after that left something to be desired.

9-year-old Calett Mad has not shown much for the last two season for Nigel Twiston Davies but his form in 2018 had shown what he is capable of, and he seems best when racing over distances in excess of 3 miles.

Martin Weston – Worcester
There are numerous unraced 3-year-olds based with the Westons, but they are all un-named, so there is not much point identifying each one. Needless to say, there are probably one or two gems amongst them.  

James King – Ettington
James will be riding on the opening weekend of the season, but realises he faces major challenges in the months ahead as he attempts to follow up last years success in the Riders Championship, named Jack Andrews, Will Biddick and Bradley Gibbs as his most likely successors.

Now based in the overflow yard of Fran Nimmo and Charlie Poste at Ettington, King rides under a West Mercian certificate and this area is a hotbed of talent with Tommie O’Brien and Zac Baker plying their trade in this area.

As well as being stable jockey at Nimmo academy, which should ensure a steady stream of winners, King will be hoping to build on last years training success which provided him with 5 wins from just 8 runners.

Thumb Stone Blues proved a revelation last year winning all 4 races he contested, but will be aimed at Opens and Veterans races. He goes on any track and any going but seems to be better going left handed with a run in The Lady Dudley Cup pencilled in.

He will be joined by Durl Rock who has made the short journey over from Dan Skeltons yard near Alcester and is being targeted at one of the early season meetings on good ground and a left handed course. He is reported to have had wind surgery prior to his three runs for that yard and that may hamper his chances in the future.

 

 

WEST MERCIAN NEWS ROUNDUP

Welcome to the New Area
The 14 Point-to-Point regions as they were originally created stood the test of time until Covid struck which prompted the need for change.

After informal discussions, it became obvious major benefits could be derived from a merger between the old North West and West Midland Areas, with both parties having similar aims.

A formal proposal for the creation of the new area, its officers and structures were approved at a meeting at Hagley Golf Club in May, so the area is now home to 21 meetings, 13 from the West Midlands, 2 from the Welsh Borders (Ludlow and United Pack) and the remainder from the North West.

Ineos Grenadier
We welcome the new sponsors of the Mixed Open Series, who will run a series of 16 qualifying races across the country culminating in a Final at Cheltenham Racecourse on Friday 6th May 2022. The first four horses in these qualifying races plus any horse that has been placed first or second in any Men’s, Ladies or Mixed Open prior to entries closing, will qualify.
Qualifying races at Duke of Beaufort @ Didmarton (5th March)  & Cheshire Forest @ Tabley (3rd April).

Tattersalls Cheltenham 4 & 5 year old Maiden Series
One of the most prominent Bloodstock Sales Companies in Great Britain has been a long-term supporter of the sport. They will sponsor 5 Maiden Races – including a 4-year-old Maiden at Larkhill
No races in West Mercian Area

Highflyer Bloodstock
Disputed finishes are in nobody’s interest and due to the generosity of Highflyer Bloodstock it is now possible for Judge’s to utilise video playback with slow motion technology and that will help support any decisions they made immediately after the race.

Thoroughbred Breeders Association Early NH Racing Initiative 4-year-old Maiden Series
The T.B.A. have stepped in to sponsor the first every 4-year-old Maiden Series
Qualifying race at Wheatland at Chaddesley Corbett on 7th May.

The Jockey Club and Retraining of Racehorses (ROR) Veteran Horse Series
Now in its 3rd season, there will be a total of 14 qualifying races with the first four finishers eligible for the Final at the Melton Hunt Club fixture on Sunday 22nd May.
Qualifying race at the Wheatland at Chaddesley Corbett on 7th May

Oriental Club Owner/Trainer Series
This series was well received in its first season but has not been able to build on that success due to

Covid, but the 13-race series is deliberately intended to provide competitive racing. All horses competing in any race in the series will qualify for the final at the Mid-Surrey Farmers meeting at Godstone on 1st May.
Qualifying races at Duke of Beaufort at Didmarton on 5th March and Gloucester Races at Maisemore Park on 27th March.

 Jockey Club Mares Maiden Series
There will be a series final with the first four finishers in the 16 qualifying races eligible for the Final at the Berkeley meeting at Woodford on Saturday 23rd April.
No qualifying races in the West Mercian Area although the Albrighton & Woodland fixture at Chaddesley Corbett on 2nd June, does receive support

Lorna Brooke remembered in West Mercian Ladies Races
The tragic death earlier this year of Lorna Brooke left a big void in the amateur ranks and had a major impact in the closely knit weighing rooms of Point-to-Point and National Hunt courses along the Welsh Borders where she had accumulated so many friends and colleagues over the last 20 years.

A chance meeting between Judith Healey, Nickie Sheppard and Lorna’s father Alistair during the celebration of her life at Ludlow Racecourse in late May led to the creation of a series of Ladies Races which will culminate in a Final at the Albrighton & Woodland (South) fixture at Chaddesley Corbett on Thursday 2nd June.

All of the events will be held at meetings in the newly established West Mercian Area, where every Ladies Open will carry the title The Lorna Brooke Memorial Qualifying Race, with Lorna’s family putting up the prize money for the Final and Mementoes.

Entrance to the final is open to ANY horse that started in these qualifying events, and it is hoped these events will keep Lorna’s memory at the fore front of our minds.
Harkaway Club Ladies Open on Tuesday 28th December 2021
Albrighton & Woodland (North) Ladies Open on Sunday 20th February 2022
Sir W W Wynn’s & Flint & Denbigh Ladies Conditions on Sunday 13th March 2022
Croome & West Warwickshire Ladies Open on Saturday 19th March 2022
Cotswold Ladies Open and Ladies Conditions on Sunday 3rd April 2022
Cotswold Vale Farmers Ladies Open on Sunday 10th April 2022
Worcestershire Ladies Open on Saturday 16th April
North Shropshire Ladies Open on Monday 18th April
Berkeley Ladies Conditions (Level 1) on Saturday 23rd April
Final – Albrighton & Woodland (South) on Thursday 2nd June.

Major milestones for 3 courses in 2022
Didmarton, Maisemore Park and Paxford all celebrate major anniversaries over the next 6 months. Despite what it says in this year’s Planner the former opened in 1947, Maisemore Park held its first meeting in 1982, while Paxford is the youngest of the trio opening in 1997, meaning the South Gloucestershire course celebrates 75 years of racing in March, followed a few weeks later by Maisemore (40 years) and Paxford (25 years).

The sport is indebted to current and previous course owners, for allowing racing to take place over their land and for the countless Clerks of Courses and volunteers who have toiled year after year to transform a farmer’s field into a racecourse.

However, they all have some way to go to catch up the Areas oldest courses i.e., Eyton-on-Severn which opened in 1921, and Brampton Bryan which held its first fixture in 1929.

Dairy Partners West Mercian Open Race Championship
Gloucestershire based Dairy Partnerships is a long-established British run dairy company supplying major UK and overseas markets and is rightly described as “A local company with global reach”, have sponsored this championship for the last two years but it has now been renamed the Dairy Partners West Mercian Open Race Championship.

The winner of this Championship picks up the first prize of £1,000 and is seen as a major incentive for owners to run their horses in the Area.

This year’s Championship comprises of 28 races, 12 Mixed Opens, 8 Men’s Opens and 8 Ladies Opens and that should cater across the whole spectrum of horses competing at this level, with races ranging from 2-1/2 upwards which should guarantee competitive racing in each category.

The qualifying races are as follows: –
14 November 2021 – Clifton (Knightwick races) – Mixed Open
28 December 2021 – Harkaway Club – Men’s and Ladies Open
20 February 2022 – Albrighton and Woodland North – Men’s and Ladies Open
5 March 2022 – Beaufort – Mixed Open
13 March 2022 – Sir W W Wynns/Flint & Denbigh – Mixed Open
19 March 2022 – Croome – Mens and Ladies Open
20 March 2022 – United – Mixed Open
27 March 2022 – Ledbury – Mixed Open
2 April 2022- Ludlow – Mixed Open
3 April 2022 – Cotswold – Mens and Ladies Open
3 April 2022 – Cheshire Forest – Mixed Open
10 April 2022 – Cotswold Vale – Mens and Ladies Open
16 April 2022 – Worcestershire – Mens and Ladies Open
16 April 2022 – North Staffs – Mixed Open
18 April 2022 – North Shropshire – Mens and Ladies Open
18 April 2022 – North Cotswold – Mixed Open
23 April 2022 – Berkeley – Mens
2 May 2022 – South Shropshire – Mixed Open
7 May 2022 – Wheatland – Mixed Open
15 May 2022 – Knutsford – Mixed Open
2 June 2022 – Albrighton and Woodland South – Ladies Open

Frequent runners Scheme at Area Point-to-Points
In addition to the opportunities provided by National Sponsors (see above), there is an added incentive for owners and trainers to run their horses in the area, with the start of the West Mercian Area Frequent Runner Scheme (jointly sponsored by Shires Equestrian, Buyabreak and Southwick Wines).

Covering 21 fixtures from November to June, each race will carry a star rating depending on its propensity to attract entries and runners. For example, Point-to-Point Bumpers until the end of March will attract 1pt, whilst Open races will attract 5pts. For the remaining two months of the season, scores will alter in order to encourage runners trained both within and outside the Area to run in our races.

Prizes provided by the scheme’s sponsors will be available as follows:
LEADING TRAINER FROM OUTSIDE THE AREA – will receive a £200 voucher from Shires Equestrian whilst one the first three one horse trainers within the Area will each receive £100 vouchers.
LEADING SIX TRAINERS WITH MOST POINTS – will receive a weekend break worth £149 from sponsors Buyabreak, dedicated to making your next UK break as relaxing and enjoyable as it can be. The company has partnered with selected hotels & resorts to bring you the most cost-effective solutions available.
LEADING SIX TRAINERS – will each receive a case of Notorious Pink, exclusively imported into the UK by sponsor Southwick Wines.
LEADING TRAINER FROM OUTSIDE THE AREA – will win a £200 voucher to spend with Shires Equestrian, whilst the 3 leading trainers with two horses or less will each win a £100 voucher. 

Details for the star ratings for each race will be published in due course.

New Date for Knightwick Races
The season will be barely three weeks old when Knightwick Races stage their meeting on Sunday 14th November. With the Dunsmore fixture in Devon providing the only opposition that weekend the organisers must be hopeful of attracting plenty of runner from Wales and adjacent areas.

Shelfield Park opens to the paying public
Last year’s inaugural event (which took place behind closed doors) was well received but the Croome and West Warwick’s course at Shelfield Park faces its first real test when it opens to the public in mid-March. This meeting helped provide a viable racing programme during last year’s Covid affected season but the earlier date should help this meeting reach its full potential.

Entry Fees refunded at Andoversford Races on 3rd April
Eagle eyed trainers will have spotted what is effectively a free entry for both the Mens and Ladies Open races at the Cotswold fixture at Andoversford on Sunday 3rd April. Both of these races have a first prize of £500, while the 4th horse wins £50 but with the entry fee refunded on declaration in both Open races for horses outside the first four, that means all the horses get a free run – don’t forget to enter.

Cotswold Vale Farmers move back to Andoversford
The Cotswold Vale Farmers moves back to Andoversford this year. This meeting has alternated between this year’s venue and Maisemore Park since 1967. A majority of the races are for Veteran and Novice Riders.

The Lady Dudley Cup
As befits its status the centrepiece of the Worcestershire meeting on Saturday 16th April offers some of the best prize money available during the 2021/2022 campaign, with monetary awards down to 8th place. The first horse gets £1250, 2nd = £500, 3rd = £250, and 4th down to 8th place = £80. The Ladies Open has a first prize of £450, while in all other races the winner receives £300. Total prize money is over £6,000

Berkeley welcomes the Jockey Club Series Final
The Jockey Club Mares’ Maiden Series now has a new home for its £700 Final at the Berkeley Hunt’s fixture at Woodford in Gloucestershire on Saturday 23rd April. Handily placed just a few minutes from junction 14 on the M5 this course is convenient for all points on the compass.

Under the new-look format, any mare who finishes in the first four in one of The Jockey Club’s 16 qualifying races will be eligible for the final, as will, fillies and mares who win any other maiden race.

In addition, The Jockey Club is again offering a double-prize money bonus linked to its 15 licensed racecourses which stage Flat and Jump racing, and it is also extending the offer. In the past only the winner of the points-based series was eligible for the bonus on her first run at a Jockey Club racecourse. Now the first three finishers in the final are eligible on their first, second or third run at any such racecourse.

The winning filly or mare will double any prize money she earns (including place money) at a Jockey Club racecourse on her first, second or third run, up to a maximum of £10,000. The second and third filly or mare in the final can double their prize money up to a maximum of £5,000 on their first, second or third runs.

West Mercian and Wales Area Conditions Race
With Bangor-on-Dee racecourse situated in Wales, the Sir W W Wynn’s and Flint & Denbigh Hunts decided to open up the final race on their card on Sunday 6th March to horses from Wales as well as the West Mercian Area in the hope of attracting runners from the Principality.

Knutsford Races
The Lord Daresbury Old North West Affiliated Class Final Conditions Race remains as part of the Knutsford Races Club fixture at Tabley on Sunday 15th May. The race has long been one of the highlights of racing in the North West and no doubt this year’s event will be a keenly fought event.

Other News
All Chaddesley Corbett meetings now have the same secretary with the appointment of Jane Allfrey for the five fixtures held at the Worcestershire venue i.e., Harkaway Club, Albrighton & Woodland (North & South), Worcestershire and Wheatland. Jane is well known in local Point-to-Point circles as both an owner and trainer and had previously been secretary of the North Ledbury meeting.

Ros Emmet takes over from Carol Clift who is the long servicing Secretary in the history of the Duke of Beaufort meetings so has some big shoes to fill.

We also welcome two fixtures and their secretaries which have elected to join us from the old Welsh Border Area, namely Katie Ayres and the Ludlow and Pauline Duggan from the United Pack.

Ladies Champion
Who is going to be crowned the first Leading Lady Rider in the newly created Area. With last year’s West Midlands Champion Hannah Lewis having retired and with other established riders making similar decisions the door is open for someone to take this prestigious title in six months’ time.

West Mercian Area Season Tickets
The West Mercian Area have launched a new racegoers Season ticket, offering best value racing across seven counties of the UK over eight months. With courses stretching from Shropshire to eastern Gloucestershire and the heartland of Point-to-Point racing in Worcestershire, there’s plenty to enjoy from fixtures that showcase the best young horses and riders that provide the stars of tomorrow alongside old favourites ridden by family for family.

With daily admission from £15, membership at £130 offers a saving of over 50%. The non-transferable membership offers access to each of 21 fixtures from November – June, including the Area’s Classic race, the Lady Dudley Cup.

Buy now at www.pointingwm.co.uk

 

 

 

JAMES KING PROFILE

This article on reigning West Midland Area Champion James King recently appeared in the Go Pointing magazine, and is kindly reproduced here by permission from Jake Exelby

James King and his uncle Jason Warner

James King – 25 – enjoyed an annus mirabilis last season when winning his first jockeys championship, his 33 victories (all gained since racing resumed after lockdown) being more than double the total of his nearest pursuer. Not only that, he won his second Aintree Foxhunters on Cousin Pascal and produced five winners from just eight starts from his two-horse string as he embarked upon his training career. Son of former racing post journalist Andrew and nephew of leading owner-trainer Jason Warner, James rode his first winner aged 17 and hit the headlines four years later when champion amateur under rules. Jake Exelby paid him a visit at his Ettington base, to find out why it’s all been going right for him since April and how he hopes to emulate that success in the 2021/2022 campaign.

Brought up in Rodborough, near Stroud in Gloucestershire, James admits to “Always being horsey. I played a lot of sport – I’m still a keen cricketer and play, as a fast bowler, for Tusmore CC every few weeks – but I’d cycle home from school as fast as I could to help out at the riding school at nearby Barton End, where I went for ten years until I was 17. I did pony club, and hunted with the Beaufort – I used to take Monday morning off school and hack my ponies to the meet.”

“I rode out for local trainers Tim Cox and Tim Sage,” continues James, “And it was for the latter that I had my first ride – and win – on Presentandcorrect at Lockinge on Easter Monday 2013. It didn’t really sink in, because I didn’t have another ride until the next season. I ended up winning the same race for my second success!”

At the time, James was working for multiple champion trainer Paul Nicholls, where he spent three years. “It was when the likes of Darryl Jacob, Sam Twiston-Davies and Will Biddick were there. I became good friends with Will and ended up working for him,” he tells me. Between Messrs Nicholls and Biddick, he spent two years with Neil Mulholland, where he was based in 2016-2017, when Neil trained over 100 winners and James rode 19 – five for his boss – as he won the amateurs title. “I was also leading Hunter Chase rider the previous year,” James reminds me, “With five wins, including three on Grandioso for Steve Flook. I’ve also ridden for a lot of Welsh trainers, who I’ve got to know through the Bowens (Mickey Bowen trained Dineur, his first Aintree Foxhunters winner in 2017) as well as the Slatter family, who have been good to me.”

James – who rides out at least four times a week for rules trainer Olly Murphy – is now in his third season as stable jockey for Station Yard racing, run by Fran (nee Nimmo) and Charlie Poste. He tells me how their association developed. “My first mount for them was a winner – One Touch at Badbury Rings in 2018. Due to other commitments, I didn’t ride another for the yard for a year and Whateva Next won at Guilsborough. Charlie approached me for the full-time role after that.”

James counts the aforementioned One Touch – “I gave it one of my worst rides ever and we still won going away! He’s rated 130 under rules and still hasn’t shown his full potential,” – and Chaddesley Corbett winner Dondiam as the best youngsters he’s ridden for Fran and Charlie and gave me three to follow from the stable for next season in the shape of, “A Presenting out of Jay Lo, a Soldier Of Fortune gelding out of Saltbarrow and Boy De La Vis, who’s by Diamond Boy.”

An obvious question – given his enviable record both between the flags and under rules – is whether James has considered turning professional. “I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond,” he replies candidly, “Than have to start from scratch and struggle for rides. It’s going well at the moment and I’ve ridden two Aintree Foxhunters winners. I’d love to have a winner at Cheltenham though,” he admits. “Especially the Foxhunters. It’s my local track and I’ve been placed there, but never better than that.”

He has a firm view on young amateur jockeys turning professional. ““It’s alright for the likes of the Bowen brothers and Conor Brace, who have the backing, but some of them need their heads banging together,” he opines – without naming names. “They turn conditional at 16 or 17, struggle and wonder why. They’d be better off spending more time in points, learning their trade – and learning from their mistakes. Take the likes of Sean Houlihan, Ben Jones, David Noonan and Lorcan Williams. They rode in points for a few seasons before going pro – and it’s helped them.”

“I just want to stay injury free and ride as many winners as possible and to keep riding while I’m still enjoying it – although I don’t think I’ll go on as long as Phil York!” adds James of his ambitions. “I’d like to be champion again next year but it will be a hard task against the likes of Jack Andrews, Will Biddick and Bradley Gibbs. I think Bradley will win it next year,” James confesses. “He’s growing as a trainer, his horses run consistently, and Welsh pointing is back – that’s the key thing.”

Looking back rather than forward, James is at a loss to explain why 2020/2021 went so well for him, particularly after lockdown. “I suppose I was lucky to ride fit, healthy horses,” he suggests. “Fran and Charlie’s were in great form – they kept the horses going during the break so they came back fit and healthy – and (uncle) Jason Warner supported me, as did his other trainers Kieran and Luke Price.” “It’s like being a striker in football,” James muses. “When you have success, you grow in confidence. I was riding the horses as I found them, rather than being tied down to instructions, which I used to take too literally. I’d also watch my mount’s previous runs – the live streaming was great for that – and see what suited the horse best.”

During lockdown, James got together with girlfriend Sophie Ardern, who’s worked for Fran and Charlie for five years and who laughs ironically when I described her as the secret of his success last season. “I’ve never known anyone sleep as much as him,” she smiles when I ask what he’s like. “I can understand it during the height of the season, but he’s normally asleep by half past eight.” James sheepishly agrees. “I get so wrapped up in the horses that all I like to do afterwards is relax and see friends – I hate late nights!”

“Cothelstone in May was the turning point,” James says – changing the subject – of his championship ambitions last season. “I had four rides. The first two fell – at the same fence on the second circuit – and I knew my ankle was playing up, but the next two won, and Thumb Stone Blue beating Jack Andrews on Chameron gave me the upper hand.”

Talk of ‘Thumb’ leads me to ask about James’ own string. “I knew they’d need a run before lockdown,” he admits. “So I left some room for improvement, gave them January off and let them down, then had five winners from six when racing resumed – and Always Lion was going well when he broke down at Garthorpe.” An obvious question, given James’ impressive start to his training career, is whether he plans to expand. “I’m just playing around with two horses at the moment,” he says modestly. “I’m too busy to take it more seriously. Fran and Charlie are good to me, letting me keep my horses here, but it’s still early days and I’m enjoying the riding too much.”

James has his horses at Fran and Charlie’s overflow yard and this year, Thumb Stone Blues has been joined by the former Dan Skelton inmate Durl Rock, who had three runs for Dan Skelton. “He was turned out last year and has done well for a break,” confirms James. “He’ll be out early and I’ll look for an older horse Maiden on nice ground and preferably left-handed. ‘Thumb’ will turn 12 in January and won’t run more than once a month. He’ll go for Opens and Veterans races, although I think he gets a penalty in those. While he’s better left-handed, he’s versatile and goes on any track and going. We may target the Lady Dudley Cup with him.”

His routine is that of a true workaholic! “I finish at Fran and Charlie’s,” James tells me, “Then drive up to the other yard and get the horses out of the field. Then I saddle one up, ride it down to the yard leading the other, who I put on the horse-walker. I canter or gallop the first, then do the same routine in reverse.” And that’s when he’s not riding out for Olly Murphy, or hunting his pair with the Croome & West Warwickshire! “I’ve taken bits and bobs from everyone I’ve worked for,” James replies when I ask about the influences on his training regime. “I don’t style myself on anyone in particular, although I learnt a lot from Paul Nicholls and I do a few things similarly to Richard Newland, who I used to ride for.”

James’ success was notable for him being based in the South Midlands – arguably the most competitive area in the country, with the top three trainers, male and female champion jockeys and both leading novice riders being based in the region. “Along with the West Midlands, I think we have the best racing,” agreed James. “But things move on – a few years ago it was the West Country, with the likes of Jack Barber and Ed Walker. Times are changing, and the sport is getting more commercial and professional with the four-year-olds, although smaller trainers like Julie Wadland and the Slatters are holding their own and the Oriental Club series is a good innovation.”

So how does he see next season going after two years of curtailed racing due to COVID-19? “While lots of horses went under rules, pointing was still well-supported, with competitive racing and double-figure fields. However, that may not be sustainable again with more races and a longer season – I think owners and trainers will run their horses every four or five weeks, rather than every two to three.”

While James has only been involved in pointing since 2013, he has strong opinions on the sport, including the state of pointing this side of the water compared to the Irish scene. “The results at the Cheltenham Festival showed how far ahead they are. British pointing needs to keep up with them and get similar results at the sales. For us, the sport can be more like fun. Although…” he goes on, “Our pointers won both Foxhunters – and an English horse won the Irish Champion Hunter Chase.”

Asked for a final word, James is quick to thank Fran, Charlie and the whole team at Station Yard before singing the praises of his uncle Jason Warner. “I’d never ridden a winner for Jason before last season,” he admits. “Infact, I’ve hardly ever ridden for him in the past. But I rode 12 of his winners in 2021 and our link-up has gone swimmingly. Jason’s a traditionalist, a great supporter of the game, who lives and breathes pointing – he’s probably on the phone as we speak trying to buy another horse!”

CHANGE OF DIRECTION FOR BARBURY BUMPERS

BARBURY Racecourse, near Marlborough, is to run its bumper races in the opposite direction to their point-to-point races this season.

Racing has always taken place left-handed at the picturesque Wiltshire track, which is set to host three meetings this term, but mindful that the ground can get cut up especially near the three-mile start bend, officials are keen to explore the potential for running races right-handed.

Approval for the switch has been given by BHA course inspector Peter Hobbs and the local point-to-point inspector Nick Bush.

A short presentation and course walk was held with owners, trainers and riders on Sunday – and now it’s been decided to keep the races over obstacles left-handed, but run the bumpers on the flat right-handed.

Clerk of the course John White said: “We are going to run the point-to-point races as normal and the bumpers and pony races the other way round. “Basically it is to see if there is any benefit for the course and the horses going the other way. We will start with the bumpers and see how it goes. I think it will be interesting. It is quite a novel idea.”

The change will come into effect at the Barbury International on Sunday, December 12, followed by the Vine & Craven Hunt meeting on Sunday, February 13 and the Tedworth Hunt fixture on Sunday, April 10.

Changing the running direction at racecourses is unusual. However, Wexford in Ireland, which races under rules, trialed switching from right-handed to left-handed six years ago. The move proved popular with trainers and riders – and the course has raced that way ever since.

Wouldn’t you wish for a horse like this?

All of us who love our Pointing love it as much for seeing old favourites year after year as for the thrill of a young upwardly mobile horse or rider appearing. It’s what gives the sport an appeal beyond that of a mere nursery to the professional game.

In the west Mercian area, one old favourite has been giving us immense pleasure since the Spring of 2019, when Wishing And Hoping exchanged the wintery blast of Alan King’s Barbury downland for the Rowley stable in Shropshire. His owners remained the same throughout; Peter and Tricia Andrews have followed the sport for many years. Indeed, I remember as a young Clerk and Manager at Warwick that Peter needed little persuasion to underwrite the cost of an annual box and the newly inaugurated Kingmaker Chase in the name of his pumps business Godiva some 30 years ago.

Wishing And Hoping was able to take advantage of the newly designed early start to the season this time last year, when he formed one leg of a memorable four-timer for the Rowley yard at Maisemore in late October 2020, the first of many fixtures behind closed doors last winter.

Subsequently, he found one too good in Premier Magic at Chaddesley at the Wheatland’s November meeting, before switching to hunter chasing in the absence of our sport between the flags. A runner-up berth at Haydock in February proved no sort of a trial for the Cheltenham Foxhunter, but honour was salved in the Area Hunters Chase at Worcester in May with a hard-fought 3/4l win over David Maxwell’s French-bred Jatuwileh. 

Last Sunday, Wishing And Hoping returned to the track in a Veterans Chase at Aintree, under old partner Alex Edwards, and clearly enjoyed his outing, drawing clear to win by 8 1/2l.

Wishing And Hoping returns with Alex Edwards and Phil Rowley to a popular reception at Aintree
Wishing And Hoping returns with Alex Edwards and Phil Rowley to a popular reception at Aintree

That makes 11 wins from 23 outings. Not bad for an old stager.

LORNA BROOKE MEMORIAL QUALIFYING RACES

The tragic death earlier this year of Lorna Brooke left a big void in the amateur ranks and had a major impact in the closely knit weighing rooms at Point-to-Point and National Hunt courses along the Welsh Borders where she had accumulated so many friends and colleagues over the last 20 years.

A chance meeting between Judith Healey, Nickie Sheppard and Lorna’s father Alistair during the celebration of her life at Ludlow Racecourse in late May led to the creation of a series of Ladies Races culminating in a Final at the Albrighton & Woodland (South) fixture at Chaddesley Corbett on Thursday 2nd June.

All the events will be held in the newly established West Mercian Area, where every Ladies Open will carry the title The Lorna Brooke Memorial Qualifying Race, with Lorna’s family putting up the prize money for the Final and Mementoes. Entrance to the final is open to ANY horse that started in these qualifying events, and it is hoped they will keep Lorna’s memory at the fore front of our minds.

Harkaway Club Ladies Open on Tuesday 28th December 2021
Albrighton & Woodland (North) Ladies Open on Sunday 20th February 2022
Sir W W Wynn’s & Flint & Denbigh Ladies Conditions on Sunday 13th March 2022
Croome & West Warwickshire Ladies Open on Saturday 19th March 2022
Cotswold Ladies Open and Ladies Conditions on Sunday 3rd April 2022
Cotswold Vale Farmers Ladies Open on Sunday 10th April 2022
Worcestershire Ladies Open on Saturday 16th April
North Shropshire Ladies Open on Monday 18th April
Berkeley Ladies Conditions (Level 1) on Saturday 23rd April
Final – Albrighton & Woodland (South) on Thursday 2nd June.

Brooke had her first Point-to-Point ride on Highway Five who finished fourth in the North Herefordshire Ladies Open at Whitwick Manor in February 2000.  Iain McKenzie who is not known for throwing compliments around like confetti later wrote “Ridden with great pluck and no little skill by Lorna Brooke who looked very tidy in her first season”.

She rode her first winner on Hag’s Way in a Novice Riders race at the P.P.O.R.A. meeting at Barbury Racecourse in January 2002 and also won three races later in the season, two wins on Joshua’s Vision and another win on the aforementioned Hag’s Way at Garnons.  This resulted in her winning that years prestigious Princess Royal Trophy and she also won the Welsh Borders Ladies Title on at least 7 occasions.

Although based in Powys and riding horses prepared at home by her mother Sue, Brooke provided Phil Rowley with his first success under Rules when The General Lee won a Ludlow Hunter Chase in March 2011. Brooke won seven races on Judith Healey’s and Jim Squires horse, which explains Judith’s involvement with this new Championship.

Lorna also rode in many races abroad and represented her country on numerous occasions. This started in 2010 when she represented at GB team who rode in the Anglo/Irish lady jockeys’ challenge at Limerick.

Lorna finished second but when the return match was held at Newton Abbot a year later Lorna rode her first winner over hurdles with Grand National winning jockey Rachael Blackmore finishing 3rd.Lorna also rode on the flat and in Arab Races as Sarah Oliver, Chief Executive of the Amateur Jockeys Association explained “She represented GB in Arabian racing, riding both in Bahrain and Poland and Abu Dhabi. She also represented GB riding in Mauritius in 2018 and 2019 and as part of a GB Ladies Team on the Flat in Germany.”

INEOS GRENADIER TO SPONSOR MIXED OPEN SERIES

 

•    INEOS Automotive will be title sponsor of INEOS Grenadier Mixed Open Series
•    Sponsorship will provide nationwide backing of 16 Mixed Open races and the Hunters’ Chase final at Cheltenham   The rugged and uncompromising INEOS Grenadier 4X4 is set to launch in 2022 with reservations now open 

The Point-to-Point Authority is delighted to announce INEOS Automotive as the new title sponsor of its Mixed Open Series, which will get underway in November 2021.

The three-year national partnership coincides with the launch of the widely anticipated INEOS Grenadier 4X4 in July 2022. The British-designed, rugged and uncompromising off-roader is being built to meet the extreme demands of its customers. Perfect for towing a horsebox and tackling challenging terrain, the highly capable vehicle is an ideal fit for a countryside-based sport with strong ties to Britain’s farming and rural communities. 

Gary Pearson, Head of UK and MENA at INEOS Automotive, said: “The desire to build a vehicle with the versatility to meet the needs of those who live, work and play in the countryside has been at the forefront of our ambitions since the early development stages of the Grenadier. Engineered to be a capable and reliable workhorse, it’s fitting that the Grenadier will be forming such strong ties with the Point-to-Point Authority, not only to provide financial support for the sport, but to also build stronger relationships with a community this vehicle has been designed for.”

Peter Wright, Chief Executive of the Point-to-Point Authority, added: “This is a very welcome new national partnership, focusing on a series of mixed open races leading to a valuable final and involving some of our leading horses. The Grenadier 4X4 is a perfect fit for point-to-pointing and the wider countryside community.”

INEOS Automotive will be sponsoring 16 mixed open point-to-point races at venues from Scotland to Cornwall, and West Wales to East Anglia, with each race worth £1,000 in prize money. The first four horses from each INEOS Grenadier Mixed Open race, plus the first two from any other mixed open contest, will qualify for the £10,000 INEOS Grenadier Mixed Open Hunters’ Chase final, to be run at Cheltenham on Friday, May 6.

Somerset-based Will Biddick, who trains Britain’s top-rated hunter chaser Porlock Bay, said: “Our first aim is to get Porlock to the Cheltenham Festival, but he had a light campaign last season, and a race like the INEOS Grenadier Mixed Open Hunters’ Chase in May could well become the next target. It’s good to have a decent pot to aim at, and it’s marvellous that such a big company is supporting the grass roots of horse racing.”

Shropshire trainer Philip Rowley, who has won Cheltenham’s Mixed Open Hunters’ Chase three times, said: “Most sports need a bit of a lift after disruptions caused by Covid, and for a company like INEOS to come in is great news. I’m hoping we have a horse good enough to run in the final and Salvatore might be the one. His owners are point-to-point people through and through, and he’s a horse who wants a bit of decent ground, which we should get at Cheltenham in May.”

For more information about the INEOS Grenadier, visit ineosgrenadier.com