Fresh from retaining the Scottish National in its home country, owners and trainers converge on Perth this week for what is usually one of the most popular of the Spring Festival meetings.
The late lamented Sam Morshead re-energized Perth and made these three days a tick-box exercise for all the south’s top yards, where they could relax after the stresses of the higher profile events at Cheltenham and Aintree, and that work has been ably continued in the most demanding circumstances by current CEO Hazel Peplinski.
Firmly tongue in cheek, Sam referred to Ascot as the Perth of the South, but now that owners are permitted to attend once more, a little of the fizz that comes to west Berkshire can rub off on the beautiful surroundings of Perth, and for those of a betting disposition, bettingroyalascot.co.uk will like as not give you a best odds option on whatever you fancy.
Sadly, the rigours of compliance with Covid protocols have done for the northern Point-to-Point circuit this Spring, with not a fixture to be had since Alnwick. There’s no great evidence those horses are rushing into hunter chases, given the two runner field at Sedgefield yesterday, where Tom Ellis wasn’t troubled to add to his score for the season with 1/3 favourite Dundrum Wood.
Three Counties trainers dominated the first day of Perth today, when Olly Murphy enjoyed a double, Fergal O’Brien moved his seasonal tally to 101, and Henry Daly continued his good run of form. However, sadly the established hunter chase has been moved away from the festival.
Meanwhile, closer to home, Albi Tufnell couldn’t follow up on his Stratford success in Ludlow’s Hunter chase, which was won in the final half furlong by Immy Robinson on Garde Ville, for Wrexham trainer Patricia Rigby. This was Immy’s third victory of the season across Pointing and Rules racing and brings her total tally to one short of a half century.
Garde Ville’s previous run was a winning one at Sandon over Easter under the guidance of Lorna Brooke. And although the result was a winning one, it was also acutely poignant for trainer Trish Rigby. Lorna is the first fatality in the sport since James McNeile’s fatal fall at Larkhill in April 2017.
The relatively small number of Point-to-Point fixtures is resulting in good fields throughout, and it’s evident that the amateur followers of the sport are much happier in the more relaxed environment of the Point-to-Point field than in hunter chases, given the drop off in hunter chase runners since the restart.