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Evening of close finishes sees out Cheltenham season

Cheltenham’s Hunters’ Evening is a calendar date for plenty from the Pointing community, and a unique chance to pit one’s wits as a rider over Cheltenham’s stiff fences, which take a bit more jumping than your average Point-to-Point course. It was gratifying to see the 7 races so well supported, given that many of our hunter chases have endured poor fields. 

The marquee race of the evening is the four miler, a war of attrition that sees a large field whittled down as stamina is found wanting. This time around, it delivered a corker of a finish, with just a neck separating first and second. 

Give Me A Copper led the 12 runners until the 10th put him on the floor, when Smoke Man took over the lead, with favourite Shantou Flyer in close contention. Stratford winner Law of Gold, crept closer despite a less than foot-perfect round, but as they faced the downhill for the final time, Coup de Pinceau, fresh to the hunter chase game from Colin Tizzard’s, had the leader in his sights, and as they faced the final two fences, he asserted, with Law of Gold in hot pursuit. Neck and neck to the line, no horse deserved to lose, but Coup de Pinceau prevailed under George Hiscock for Sherborne-based Syd Hosie. 

The Ineos Grenadier Mixed Open Final attracted 11 runners for the other feature of the evening, in which Cotswold Vale Farmers Ladies Open winner Dandy Dan won by 6 1/2l. Given a clear view of his fences in an outside berth all the way round, he showed good speed from the last to put some distance between him and Caryto des Brosses, trained by David Kemp, trainer of Law of Gold. It was a day of seconds for the Suffolk handler, but augurs well if both remain in training for Stratford at the end of the month. Winning rider Lauren Keen-Hawkins, who works for nearby Kim Bailey.

Gina Andrews illustrated why she is the pick of trainers for her driving finish in the Intermediate Hunters Chase, getting Latenightfumble up to a neck victory over Go Geronimo. Latenightfumble was one of two runners on the night for Champion TYom Ellis, whose other horse Kalabaloo finished a remote second in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Mares Hunters Chase, to Kelly Morgan’s Feuille de Lune. Latenightfumble looks headed for the John Corbett Cup at Stratford at the end of the month. 

Clive Boultbee-Brooks has enjoyed 5 Hunter chase winners this season, and Trio for Rio produced back-to-back victories in the Kdta Open Hunters Chase to win this a second time under Tommie O’Brien. There was only a length in it at the line, whilst spectators were able to enjoy two of our finest riders urging on their mounts in the closing stages.

Second-placed rider Will Biddick had started the evening in style with a gritty pillar-to-post victory on Envoie Speciale for Chris Barber against another of our leading riders in James King, who threw down a challenge on Envious Editor. Biddick was able to conjure extra from Envoie Speciale to win by 1 3/4l. 

Ludlow winner Solomon Grey continued his hot streak of form in the concluding 2m 4f contest. 

 

 

Latenightpass wins thrilling Aintree Foxhunter

Tom & Gina Ellis secured their largest triumph when prevailing in a tight finish to the Randox Foxhunter Chase over Aintree’s imposing fences earlier this afternoon. 

The 18 fences of the Foxhunter, whose magnificent trophy of a near full size fox should prevent any politically correct removal of the title of the race, are the ultimate challenge for the amateur riders who are the core of the sport. Riding round Aintree is on every self-respecting rider’s bucket list.

Gina, who rides under her maiden name Andrews, is the foremost amateur in the sport, with over 300 Point-to-Point winners to her name, and nearly 80 winners under Rules, which include a Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir 5 years ago at the Festival. This will rank right up there with the best of those winners, not least as her mount, Latenightpass, was able to overturn a 2 1/2l deficit on last year’s winner, Cousin Pascal, to secure the winner’s berth. 

 

All the leading candidates were in the vanguard of the field as they headed out into the country, with Cousin Pascal leading from Cat Tiger, Jett, Clondaw Westie and Latenightpass handy. Clondaw Westie was a faller at the Canal Turn, by which time the leading candidates had defined the race for the final mile. 

Porlock Bay’s rider-trainer Will Biddick had swerved Cheltenham to have last year’s Cheltenham Foxhunter winner in the best of form for Aintree, and that decision looked very wise as they turned in, although his chance was not helped by dropping his stick. Cousin Pascal called time at the second last, where Latenightpass went on, pressed by that most game of Corinthians, David Maxwell, on Cat Tiger. The winning distance was a just 1 1/4l, with a further 1 1/4l back to Porlock Bay, running on gamely into third. 

The race was a triumph insofar as 18 of the 23 runners finished, and the win and placed horses were a true reflection of the form of the best hunter chasers in Britain. Stand UP And Fight was the nearest Irish contender, a full 39 1/2l behind the winner.

To say that trainer Tom Ellis was fizzing would be an understatement. The leading Point-to-Point trainer heads up a truly family affair in Warwickshire, with a horse owned by his mother, and ridden by his wife. This is the stuff that makes our sport so unique. 

A fair-run race, a just winner, and no real hard luck stories. What better reflection of Aintree.

Gina Andrews celebrates winning the Foxhunter. Photo: Aintree Racecourse

FOUR WINNERS FOR HENRY CROW AT TABLEY

 

The Cheshire Forest meeting took place on a bright spring day, in front of a large crowd on Sunday.  Although only 25 runners went to post, there were some notable performances with Henry Crow stealing the limelight with four winners from as many rides.  Three of them were trained by Tim Garton and owned by his family.  There were also doubles for trainer Heidi Brookshaw, her rider Billy Chatterton and owners Chris and Carly Sage.

The feature race was the £1,000 Ineos Grenadier Mixed Open over the shorter trip of two-and-a-half miles.  Sam Inskip set the pace on In Arrears for the first two miles, but Tommie O’Brien took it up on Hazzaar at the third last and won by an easy seven lengths from Toby Wynne on Staple Head, with In Arrears a further five lengths back in third.

The eight-year-old gelding, owned and trained by Clive Boultbee-Brooks, had lost his love for racing when trained under rules by his neighbour Tom Lacey.  The better ground and shorter trip suited him here and he will be kept to points and hunter chases for the rest of the season.

Henry Crow is currently on the crest of the wave.  Having ridden Wonderoftheworld to win on his only Tranwell ride on Saturday, he made it five out of five for the weekend here.  In the opening Members, he made all on the Tim Garton trained Roevin Star and won by an easy twenty lengths from Hawkestone Spirit.

It was the winner’s first success since winning at Eyton in 2019. With the connections of the only other entry for the Owner/Trainer race Queen Kalamba having advised they would not be running, Roevin Star was declared for that race and walked over to complete a double. 

The second race was the Restricted where Crow rode the favourite Willewonga.  Billy Chatterton on Salven set a modest pace, so Crow took it up with a circuit to go and eventually won easily from Tommie O’Brien on Grove Cottage.  The winner, owned by Derek Malam and trained by Joe O’Shea, had finished runner-up in three hot races this season, and earned a well-deserved reward here.

The final leg of Crow’s four-timer was in the older-horse Maiden on the eight-year-old gelding Poncherello which completed a treble for Tim Garton.  The race had its mishaps where Altumanina unseated at the first and when the runners came into the straight with a circuit to go, the riderless horse was running in the opposite direction. 

He then swerved in behind the two leaders Giovanni Medici and Poncherello before the ninth fence and collided with the favourite Presenting Miranda and Mount Ros, who were both knocked over.  Poncherello took it up four out and won by a couple of lengths from No Promises who stayed on well. The eight-year-old was purchased at Doncaster Sales in 2019 for £10,000.

In the Level 2 Conditions Race, Billy Chatterton made most of the running on Duke Arcadio and held off the late challenge of William Maggs on Stop the World to win by half a length.  The thirteen-year-old was having his first success since winning twice at this track three years ago.  The winner is owned by the commentator Chris Sage and his wife Carly and trained by Heidi Brookshaw.

The same connection later saddled the five-year-old Soldiers Hour for a walk-over in the four- and five-year-old Maiden.  Two other horses had declared but were both withdrawn due to the drying ground.

CAN COURSE SPECIALIST DUKE ARCADIO WIN AGAIN AT TABLEY

 

The Cheshire Forest meeting takes place at Tabley on Sunday, with the feature race being the £1,000 Ineos Grenadier Mixed Open.  The seven-race card with 53 entries, starts at 1.00.  There are also two pony races that will run before the main fixture.

The Ineos Grenadier Mixed Open which is a qualifier for the final at Cheltenham on 29th April, has attracted eight entries.  It will be run over a shorter trip of two-and-a-half miles, and it looks very competitive on paper.  The main contenders are Duke Arcadio, Hazzaar, In Arrears, Rewritetherules and Staple Head. Duke Arcadio at the age of thirteen is beginning to run into the form he showed a few years ago, winning twice at this track.  Hazzaar was a useful handicap chaser for Tom Lacey and has moved to Clive Boultbee-Brooks’ stable.  The gelding has run twice in heavy ground showing promise, and he should be ideally suited by the distance and the expected better ground here than he has encountered already this season. In Arrears, a multiple winner in Devon, was recently acquired by Jake Coulson.  The mare was a first ride for Sam Inskip when she came second to Ellipsism at Bangor, and she may be more competitive here.  Rewritetherules was a prolific point and hunter chase winner in Ireland, before being acquired by owner-trainer David O’Brien.  He ran with credit for a long way in the Cheltenham Foxhunters, before pulling up three out and he should be more competitive here.  Staple Head contested a closely fought Bangor Mixed Open when he was touched off by Complete Sizing, with Duke Arcadio just behind in third. He had previously been a successful pointer and chaser for the Bowen family and will also be suited by the trip.  In a very open race, Hazzaar is taken as a sporting choice.

The opening Members has only attracted three entries.  Hawkestone Spirit has not run for three seasons, when he won a two-runner Restricted.  Petite Ganache was a successful hurdler and chaser for Nicky Richards and last won a three-mile chase in January 2021. He ran respectably when fourth in an Open at Shelfield Park a fortnight ago and should be competitive here.  Roevin Star ran well when third in a Conditions race at Dalton Park recently but has not won for three years.  Petite Ganache should have the edge if all three declare.

The Restricted is a competitive race with seven entered.  Rocambolas and Grove Cottage won Maidens at Bangor and Shelfield Park respectively, but each of them may need to improve to win here.  Barrack Hill has been the model of consistency in four similar races this season and will be competitive. Joe O’Shea has two in the race Envious Editor and Willewonga.  Envious Editor ran well when a close-up third at Braefield-on-the-Green two weeks ago.  Willewonga has had three seconds in similar races this season and made an error at the final fence last Sunday when a head second to Teescomponents Boy.  If he runs here, he should prevail.

Unfortunately, only two have entered the Owner-Trainer Conditions race.  Roevin Star is also in the Members but if he turns up here, he should have the beating of the seven-year-old Maiden Queen Kalamba.

The PPORA Conditions Race is an open affair with eleven entries.  The main ones to consider are Bingo Star, Duke Arcadio, Felicie Du Maquis, Pallaskenry and Staple Head.  Duke Arcadio and Staple Head are also entered in the Ineos Grenadier Mixed Open and have been mentioned earlier.  Bingo Star has been a consistent pointer over the years and showed his wellbeing when third in a Mixed Open at Guilsborough recently.  Felicie Du Maquis was impressive when beating Willewonga in a Restricted at Bangor.  Pallaskenry was a successful winning pointer and hurdler for Henry De Bromhead and has placed form in Irish Open points recently.  It’s a hard race to predict but if he turns up here, Staple Head is the selection.

Each of the two Maiden races will be run over the shorter distance of two-and-a-half miles.  The first is for six-year-old and upwards and has attracted an entry of fourteen.  Blackjacktennessee ran well when finishing second in a Hunter Chase at Chepstow last season.  He unseated at Hutton Rudby recently but should go well here.  Fine Investment has finished third in his two most recent runs and has a good chance. Poncherello showed up well last season but lacks a recent run. Presenting Miranda won a bumper at Larkhill but pulled up in her first Maiden. The Phil Rowley trained Forest Chimes has experience and with this drop in trip, he may be good enough here.

The second Maiden is for four and five-year-olds and has eight entries.  There is very little form to go on and with three of them unraced it’s impossible to predict the outcome.  Fastbroke was runner-up in a Larkhill Maiden in November on his sole start, and Champagne Glory’s best run from seven attempts was a second in an Irish point last December. 

Dark clouds ahead for hunter chases

Dolphin Square is the latest Hunter chase winner for leading amateur David Maxwell, following a short head victory over Nick Wright’s Desire de Joie at Doncaster this afternoon. He adds to an enviable book of Festival rides that includes Cat Tiger and Bob and Co, runner up to Cousin Pascal at Haydock on Saturday. There’s plenty for the likeable and self-deprecating Maxwell to enjoy over four days in March. 

However, there are storm clouds ahead. A string of 14 hunter chases has taken place on racecourses since the hunters campaign began on January 17. In just one instance has the field reached double figures. The table below tells a sorry tale, even if several races have thrown up nail-biting finishes:

 

DateRacecourseRunnersGoing
January 20Ludlow12Soft
January 23Warwick5Good to Soft
January 31Hereford8Good
February 3Wincanton2Good
February 5Musselburgh4Good
Wetherby5Good
February 9Ludlow9Good to Soft
February 10Ffos Las7Soft
February 11Bangor7Soft
February 15Lingfield Park4Heavy
February 17Leicester4Soft
February 18Kelso4Heavy
February 19Haydock Park4Heavy
February 23Doncaster5Soft

By contrast entries and field sizes have held up pretty well at Point-to-Point fixtures so far, which leads to the inescapable conclusion that there are too many races chasing too few runners, especially at open level. It’s reassuring for the sport that its supporters are oscillating, in the main, toward running at Pointing fixtures and not migrating for higher value prizes under Rules.

However, if the trend is continued, then a logical conclusion has to be a gradual reduction – maybe even to just the three Foxhunter chases – of the hunter chase programme. This need not necessarily be a bad thing; it will encourage a higher level of competition around our Point-to-Point fixtures, whilst in any case, the three Foxhunter chases are often won by horses trained in professional yards. 

There are some who say we should support these races or lose them. But neither should we lose sight of the fact that every runner in a hunter chase is a runner lost to one of our fixtures. Bringing those horses back to run between the flags can produce superb races, like the Open at the Harkaway fixture, which delivered many of the top British contenders for the Cheltenham Foxhunter.

To sustain the volume of Hunter chases, the sport needs another 50 of David Maxwell. Sadly though, the era of the true Corinthian is largely behind us. The reality is that the only times that Pointing fans really get behind Hunter chases is when they are clustered together, as at the United Hunts fixture at Fontwell, the hunters’ evening at Cheltenham or the Stratford Foxhunter evening which boasts 7 races worth £80,000 in total. 

Racecourses are under financial pressure to over-deliver in 2022, following the last two lean years. And judged from reports of ticket sales for the two Spring Festivals, they are marketing themselves well. But they too appear to be suffering from a lack of horses. Entry levels for Cheltenham should be a concern for the Jockey Club; even the handicap entries this year are around 60% of the number in 2013, and the3 evidence of the past few years is that the horses of graded status can all too easily evade each other in small field races for the Supreme, Triumph or Arkle Chase. It wasn’t long ago the safety figures were reduced to 20 (from 24) as a safety issue. Nowadays, the racecourse would be thrilled to reach half that number.

So, Pointing needs to look after Number 1. It’s time to decide whose sport you are part of.

Cheltenham clues abound in countdown to Foxhunter

Premier Magic outpoints Porlock Bay at the Harkaway in December

The Cheltenham Foxhunter,  again run under the St James’s Place title this year is the last of the 28 races to accept entries, the closing date being March 1st, just 12 days hence. To the general public, the Foxhunter is not a leading candidate for ante-post betting, although by dint of its terrestrial TV coverage, it beats several other races into the top 20 most wagered races at Cheltenham’s extravaganza. 

Over the past decade, the race has been increasingly dominated by professional yards with chasers of yesteryear who find mainstream steeplechases just a little too hot. However, since the Hunter chase campaign began on January 20, a flurry of hunter chases at our country tracks has mapped the path of many candidates toward March 18th. 

February is a peak month for Hunters to achieve a successful prep race and the last week has seen a flurry of largely bloodless races with small fields where horses have achieved the necessary qualification criteria and shaped their challenge for the big stage next month. I’m not so sure it’s really told us a great deal about the strength of the British challenge to retain the Foxhunter at home, given the plague of small and uncompetitive fields. 

The West Country is always well represented in the Cheltenham Foxhunter, and don’t expect 2022 to be any different. There’s Porlock Bay to return for a second tilt, whose sparing runs since last March have been a second to Premier Magic at Chaddesley’s Harkaway fixture in late December, and a 2 1/4l second to Salvatore at Bangor on Friday last under Will Biddick.

Biddick was also successful for Anthony Honeyball at Ffos Las last Thursday on Pure Vision, whose owner J P McManus always enjoys a Festival runner. And as a trainer in his own right, Biddick may well put forward others, like Monsieur Gibraltar, who gave Olive Nicholls a winner at Larkhill in December. It might be a tall ask for the youngest Nicholls to take a hand in the leading race of its genre, but if anyone can equip her, it’ll be Paul Nicholls, who has eschewed notable weekend professional fixtures to mentor his daughter. More likely Caid du Berlais might have a tilt but he’s found winning ways elusive this season.

Warwickshire’s Tom Ellis can be expected to put forward at least one candidate, and Gina Andrews is a plus for any combination. Sadly we learnt little from Dubai Quest’s canter round Wetherby on Saturday a fortnight ago, beating Le Breuil 5 1/2l, with the remainder of the 5 runner field pulling up. However, his reputation is pretty much unblemished, this being his seventh consecutive winning performance.

Ellis also has Latenightpass, second in the Aintree Foxhunter in 2021, and winner of an Alnwick Open in December. He has subsequently fallen in a comparable race at the same venue a fortnight ago. In addition, don’t rule out a run for Fumet d’Oudairies, second in the John Corbet Cup to Vaucelet at Stratford last May, and winner of two Opens at Horseheath this term.

Mark and Sara Bradstock have plenty of experience of Cheltenham after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Coneygree in 2015. Nine year old Mythbuster won an open Hunters Chase at Musselburgh on Saturday last for their daughter Lilly, and likely merits an entry too. It’s not every day a small stable gets to field a Festival runner, so they may be tempted to tilt at windmills, but it’s not inconceivable this cast-off from de Bromhead could figure in the finish.

Meanwhile, James Owen’s Pont Aven put in the most eye-catching performance at Ludlow last week, dismissing his opponents with ease.

Hot favourite remains Billaway, second to Porlock Bay in ’21, and subsequently fifth to Cousin Pascal at Aintree. He prepped up with a second at Thurles last month, and will be one of a strong team from Closutton after winning easily at Naas on Saturday. Cousin Pascal has been carefully prepared this season, and will come on for his opening run behind Wagner at Hereford last month.

The other Irish challenger comes from north of the border, where David Christie trains in Fermanagh. Vaucelet was a convincing winner of the Stratford Foxhunter last May, and has subsequently burnished his credentials in a Portrush Point-to-Point and a Hunters Chase at Fairyhouse.

And not to forget the Hertfordshire representative, Premier Magic, winner of that splendid open race at Chaddesley over Christmas, and now fully launched into the major league. Will he be the choice of mount for Bradley Gibbs?

You can never rule out two amateurs who ride most under Rules in Sam Waley-Cohen and David Maxwell. Sam has a couple of potential mounts, the most likely of which is Igor, winner of an open at Larkhill in January, but Maxwell has a choice. Dolphin Square won comfortably over the big fences at Lingfield two days ago after a campaign largely over hurdles this winter that included a thriller at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, whilst Bob and Co could also represent him. Bob and Co hasn’t been seen out since running Law of Gold a close second at Stratford last May, a month after winning the Champion Hunters Chase by a nose from Billaway at the Punchestown festival.

If there’s one race where British horses have the form to send the Irish packing, this might be it, and the story’s not finished yet by any means.

Gina Andrews wins season’s first hunter chase at Ludlow

Alongside the 900+ Point-to-Point races that make up the British season, already nearly 3 months old, racecourses stage a further 100 or so Hunter chases. The big three amongst these – the Cheltenham, Aintree and to a lesser extent, the Stratford Foxhunters attract runners from licensed yards, but the charm of the remainder equals that of the Pointing field, where the best of our amateur riders test their mettle in front of knowledgeable crowds.
 
So it was for the first of the racecourse hunter chases at Ludlow this afternoon, where the sport’s leading lady rider showed why she has won championship after championship with an accomplished ride on former Grand Sefton Chase winner Hogan’s Height for Jamie Snowden.This from a woman who is well used to breaking records.
 
However, 90 minutes earlier had seen a thoroughly Albrighton moment when the long established partnership of Diana Williams, Mel Rowley and Alex Edwards was reunited to introduce a new debutant to the racecourse. This being the same partnership that enjoyed success in Point-to-Points and on the racecourse with Hazel Hill, hopes will be high that six year old gelding Latitude will develop into something as impressive as his forbear.
 
Bumper wins at Maisemore in autumn 2020 and Aintree last Spring foretold of some latent talent. the jumping looked a bit suspect on occasion today, but there was nothing not to like in the speed Latitude showed to win his race. Winners are harder to come by as a claimer than as a well established rider between the flags, as Alex has discovered, so age-old partnerships count to keep the winner tally-board moving.
 
 
The well-oiled Rowley winner machine has already notched up 13 winners under Rules to date this season, and a further 3 Pointing wins. Whilst he may no longer be vying for championship contention, you can be sure to see promising youngsters develop through our bumpers and young horse maidens over the coming months as Rowley is a key exponent of the Irish model of young horse development through grass roots fixtures.
Latitude wins on his debit at Maisemore in October 2020

PHOTOGRAPHY/VIDEOGRAPHY AT POINT-TO-POINTS

It is apparent that some commercial photographers may not be aware of the guidance regarding photography at Point-to-Points.

As stated in para two of the guide set out below, the Area is not interested in stopping customers taking photographs for their own use, but it should be a matter of courtesy for all commercial photographers to make themselves known to the meeting secretary to ensure they meet the requirements laid out below as this is in the best interests of all concerned.

PHOTOGRAPHERS & VIDEOGRAPHERS

As is standard practice across commercial sport and leisure venues, racecourses seek to protect their image rights in their terms and conditions of entry. These regulations are in place to ensure that any commercial income streams generated are protected and available to be reinvested in racing.

Whilst racecourses do not wish to dissuade customers from taking pictures of their day out, and sharing them on social media, this must remain at a personal and private level. Photographs published for a commercial purpose or on a large scale where they are available to download, even at no cost, cannot be considered as being for personal and private use.

Consequently, such photography is not permitted without accreditation and must comply with the following

The Host Hunt/Club reserves the right to charge a fee for each race day which is attended by the photographer

Photographers must provide evidence that they hold public liability insurance to a minimum of £1 million and will be required to show such insurance as without it they may not operate

Any permission given to either press or commercial photographers (irrespective of those provided with Area or National passes) is at the discretion of the Host Hunt/club (unless other accreditation arrangements are in place

With such permission/approval no photographer (or videographer) may display or publish photographs (video) for sale and if found doing so will be asked to remove them and will be reported to the Point-to-Point Authority

Identification can be issued by the meeting, and if issued, must be worn at all times

All photographers who enter the Point-to-Point Venue will be subject to the racecourse’s and/or meeting’s Terms and Conditions of Entry

Media rights for each meeting belong to that meeting. While copyright always remains with the Photographer/Videographer, the Meeting/Area Secretary reserves the right to request non publication (or withdrawal) of images deemed detrimental to the sport

All directions given by the Clerk of the Course or other meeting official(s) must be complied with

Photographs cannot be taken in the Weighing Room, Parade Ring or Winners’ Enclosure without prior approval, usually only granted to the Meeting’s Official Photographer.

Each Hunt/Club reserves the right to restrict the number of photographers in the unsaddling enclosure or any other area as deemed appropriate.

Social Media – photographers may share small numbers of images on social media only.

Photographers must not solicit names/addresses of owners, trainers, jockeys or other
connections unless permission is given by the Host Hunt/Club.

The use of flash photography is strictly forbidden except during presentations in
low light conditions.

Photographers are asked to refrain from photographing injured, distressed or dead
horses. Photography of ongoing medical or veterinary treatment is not permitted at any time.

Photographers must have regard at all times to the safety of all people in the area where the photograph is being taken, particularly in the unsaddling enclosure – DO NOT request that stable staff turn a horse around when there are other people in the area.

The racecourse reserves the right to request copies of any pictures which might be used by the stewards for the purpose of any inquiry being held without the Managing Executive being liable to make any payment.

Every photographer operates entirely at their own risk and the Managing Executive will not be liable for any injury, loss or damage to the photographer or any equipment howsoever the same may arise.

A Photographer’s Permit does not confer any exclusive rights on the holder.

 

WEEKEND ROUND-UP

 

The I-Pad as a Judge’s aid proved its worth during the Ladies Open at Sundays Larkhill Racing Club fixture where officials were unable to split the first two home despite the use of this technology and awarded a dead heat. That seemed a fair result in the circumstances, with a blanket finish, the leader tiring and his main rival a fast finisher.

As normal Southfield Theatre adopted his customary position at the front of the field but jumped left at several fences and that may have distracted Samtegal who unseated Olive Nicholls at the 7th.

When they reappeared, Lily Bradstock’s mount held a narrow lead over Tom Barton with Ida Thore and James Chamberlain’s Cotswold qualified Somekindofking continuing to improve, but the complexion of the race changed at the second from home where Tom Barton weakened while Somekindofking and Master Dancer began to close on the leader.

Southfield Theatre was still in front approaching the last but halfway up the run in five horses were still in with a chance. Somekindofking managed to get on level terms before Lauren Reed and Master Dancer burst through to share the spoils, while others weakened in the shadows of the post.

Top – Name the winner halfway up the run in, where Southfield Theatre (white and red is clinging onto his lead, with Somekindofking (green and red – left) and the grey Master Dancer ready to pounce
Southfield Theatre (white and red) is being joined by the grey Master Dancer as they approach the line

Although we did not see a lot of it at the time, Nuova Vita had been going well on the heels of the leaders when unseating Chloe Emsley at the last meeting but made amends in the 2-1/2 mile Maiden Conditions with the Berkeley qualified gelding storming home 9 lengths clear of the favourite Satellite Receiver. The 6-year-old runs in the colours of Elaine Berrington who has had the winner since he was a yearling.

Satellite Receiver leads at the last but Nuova Vita drew well clear on the run in

Local hopes rested with Salvatore in the Men’s Open, but the 9-year-old has failed to match previous exploits so far this season and Phil Rowley’s runner eventually had to settle for third place some 8-lengths behind the winner.

Tel’Art and Wagner set the early pace while Salvatore was being bumped along before they disappeared into the dip at the far end of the course. On reappearing Tal’Art was still in front but faced a succession of challenges over the final mile.

The long-time leader was joined by Myles Osborne on Moratorium between the final two fences and the latter got the better of a protracted battle from the last before Osborne was unseated when his mount saw the shute back into the winner’s enclosure.

Moratorium hangs on as the grey Tel’Art renews his challenge on the line

20-year-old Osborne is based with Ben Pauling at Naunton and was riding his first winner, while the 9- year-old gelding was recording his third success since being brought out of Gordon Elliott’s yard at Goff’s last September.

Olly Norse and Footloose both had course successes to their names, the former in a two-runner race on 28th November, while Footloose had beaten another Ridley runner Flying Colum in a Maiden on 19th December.

Tommie O’Brien took a wide berth throughout in the Restricted which resulted in Olly Norse getting a good look at his fences. They had been joined by Finnick Glory when James King’s mount took a crashing fall at the third from home, with the eventual winner Footloose doing well to avoid the resulting carnage.

 

Olly Norse (blue colours) is passed by Footloose on the final bend, but clings on to claim second place

After holding a 2-length advantage at the second from home, Olly Norse had little left in the tank when Aaron Butterfield produced his mount to take the lead on the final bend.

The previous afternoon, saw James King chalk up another winner on the Francesca Poste trained Kaproyale in the Conditions, while Mr Love and Murray Dodd came home 25-lengths clear of their rivals in the Novice Riders providing another winner for Nick Pearce who co-owns the horse with his wife Ella.

Vivaldi Collonges and Ben Bromley needed to be at their best and were as they fought back when headed by Early Retirement at the last and got up in the shadows of the post to provide yet another winner for trainer Phil Rowley and owner Anthony Bromley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A good advertisement for the amateurs in our ranks

Earlier this week, snooker player Shaun Murphy ranted that amateurs should not be permitted to play after being knocked out of the UK Snooker Championship by a Chinese nineteen year old playing for fun. The story painted a stark contrast to our own sport, which is for amateur riders and trainers only, but even under Rules, the amateur ethos remains very strong, and is embraced by all.

A good illustration of this occurred today where four of the 13 races taking place between Doncaster and Newbury were won by amateurs. At least two of the other winning riders made their way into the professional ranks through the nursery that is Point-to-Point racing.

At one end of the amateur spectrum you have Zac Baker, who added a 43rd Rules win to his 89 Pointing victories in the 4 runner Eden Farm Hulleys Novices Handicap Chase at Doncaster when The Newest One scored an 8 1/2l victory over only other finisher Huntsmans Jog for Nigel Twiston-Davies. Baker is right at the cusp of the allowed amount of rides under Rules before the tap on the shoulder to turn pro. and later in the afternoon, David Maxwell, who rides his own horses only, scored his second of the season and 52nd in total when Dolphin Square got up by a neck to win the concluding handicap hurdle at Newbury.

Zac Baker, successful at Doncaster today

But Pointing is just as much about the development of young riders and in Ben Bromley and Tristan Durrell, we have two just starting out on their career journey. Ben Bromley is certainly well connected, being the son of leading Highflyer Bloodstock agent Anthony. Since his first winner at Didmarton in March 2019, he has clocked up 11 winners between the flags and today saw his ninth under Rules – and the second within a fortnight after a scintillating victory at Cheltenham’s last 3 day fixture – when he teamed up with Ginger du Val and Mel Rowley in a handicap hurdle at Doncaster.

Tristan Durrell isn’t far behind either, having hooked up with the powerful Skelton team at Alcester. His 2 1/4l win on Starsky at Doncaster in a longer handicap hurdle 30 minutes after Bromley brings his Rules tally to 6.

In the mostly close-knit fraternity of the Weighing Room, no complaint is heard from professionals about amateurs taking their bread and butter, because they’ve all been there. Almost every rider in the sport began as an amateur, and the Corinthian spirit still burns brightly.

Talking of burning brightly, the lights will be on long into the Worcestershire night tonight after Matt Sheppard’s Not Available downed some better fancied names in the Fulke Walwyn Trophy (another able amateur as I recall) at Newbury. Winning televised races at big meetings is not an everyday occurrence for smaller trainers like the Sheppards, but they too can see a good horse when it comes along. Rarely, this cast-off from the de Bromhead team was one that escaped the Irish maestro.

All power to the Wizard of Ledbury.