The Hunters’ Chase season kicks off again at Taunton on Wednesday 7th January; this will be followed with four further races during that month. You will note that all five races are Opens, all are run at distances close to 3 miles, and geographically there is a wide spread of locality where they take place. These early races were originally put on during this month to give owners, and their horses, better opportunities and greater time to get qualified for the Cheltenham Foxhunter in March.
As with last season, it is intended to promote these races on the official Point-to-Point website once with this notice in January, and then in each of the following months, bi-monthly, when the season becomes busier. The schedule of races is as shown on the chart below:
Hunters’ Chase Details – January 2015
Date Course Distance Added Money Entries Close
7th Jan Taunton 2m7f Open £3,000 1st Jan
11th Jan Kelso 2m7f Open £3,000 5th Jan
22nd Jan Warwick 3m Open £1,500 16th Jan
29th Jan Wincanton 3m Open £1,500 23rd Jan
31st Jan Wetherby 3m1f Open £1,500 26th Jan
Race types are classified into four types; Open, Novice, Maiden, and Restricted – the last mentioned being those races restricted to “six-year-olds and upwards, which have not won more than three steeple chases” (not including Point-to-Point races).
One other change for 2015 that should be noted is that in non-Novice Hunter Chases where the Penalties are of an even number (4lb, 8lb etc.), they now have half penalties for wins achieved in Novices’ and Maiden Hunters’ Steeple Chases in Great Britain or Ireland.”
A bumper, restricted to horses that have won or been placed in British Point-to-Points, and open to their non-licensed trainers, will take place at Aintree in May. The £10,000 contest, sponsored by Doncaster Bloodstock Sales (DBS), is aimed at showcasing the potential of young British Point-to-Pointers.
The DBS Spring Sales Point-to-Point Bumper Final (A Maiden National Hunt Flat race), run over 2m1f on May 15, will be open to 4,5 & 6-year-olds only which have not run under any recognized Rules of Racing, and which, during the current Point-to-Point season and before May 9, have on at least one occasion finished first, second or third in a maiden Point-to-Point. From early in the New Year maiden races will carry a suffix highlighting the event is a DBS Spring Sales bumper qualifier. The final will be restricted to amateur riders, although they must hold Category A or B licenses.
Any horse that finishes first, second or third in the final will be offered a free wildcard entry to the DBS Spring Sales to be held on May 18-20. DBS Managing Director Henry Beeby commented: “DBS has long been a supporter of Point-to-Point racing and we are delighted that we are able to provide owners and trainers with a platform where connections can showcase young horses to a wider audience before they continue their career under NH Rules. This race, coming just three days before the start of the biggest NH sale of the year, the DBS Spring Sales, provides a perfect end-of-season target for many young horses whilst running for a £10,000 prize fund. We look forward to developing the race with Aintree and the PPA in 2015 and beyond.”
Clare Hazell, Chief Executive of the PPA, said: “This is another welcome indication that Point-to-Point racing is producing horses of a quality that is more than capable of competing under Rules. It will also give British Point-to-Point trainers a chance to show their skills to a wider audience and this initiative provides a worthwhile destination event for those with young horses to aim at.”
Oliver Greenall, who trains and rides Pointers, added: “This is a great opportunity. It’s fantastic to be able to buy, produce and run young horses in the point-to-point field rather than have to run from licensed yards. The £10,000 DBS Spring Sales Point-to-Point Bumper is a big pot of money to run for and allows us to showcase our stock to the wider racing community.”
The bookies were cosily entrenched in the barn which also housed a Christmas gift fair. Festive generosity seemed to be taken up by the books with punters cashing in on well fancied horses in the first five races. But this couldn’t last and outsiders redressed the balance for the layers sacks in the last two races.
Working Title was the paddock pick in the Novice Riders event. Obviously benefiting from a run at Black Forest, this course winner was backed from 7-4 to 6-4 favourite and won easily under Joe Drinkwater
Whenharrymetsally also started 6 -4 favourite when upgraded to Open status. This ever improving mare slipped up on the bottom bend. My initial impression was that she looked well held at the time, but jockey Matt Hampton held a more positive outlook, telling me that she had plenty left in the tank.
Ex- French four-year-old Beuvron was having his first run in English points. The booking of Jo Buck looked interesting in the Ladies’. He was sent off at 100-30 but never looked like troubling front running Byerley Bear (4-6 to 4-7). There will be another day for Beuvron who seemed in need of the race.
Raffa (evens to 4-5) was made to work hard to repel Supreme Danehill (5-2 to 9-4) in the Intermediate. The runner up had been noted in this column at Black Forest and remains of interest
All 13 entries went to post for the first Maiden where Follow The Paint was all the rage (5-2 to 5-4). Unfortunately for his supporters his saddle slipped on the downhill run after the seventh fence. 40-1 outsider Wilde At Heart ran a terrific race under her novice rider Chelsea Jennings only to be denied by a resurgent Desert Queen (12’s to 10’s).
Sisterbrooke caught my eye both in the paddock and in the race in the other Maiden division – although visibility was limited in the wind and rain, even from my vantage point on Jeff’s camera tower. Five-year-old Sisterbrooke, nibbled at from 16’s to 12’s, is in a good yard and showed plenty of promise on her pointing debut. She looks a certain Maiden winner at least.
COURSE specialist Byerley Bear dominated the Ladies’ Open under Leanda Tickle. The nine-year-old had mopped up all three Ladies’ races run on the Royal Cornwall Showground last season and again showed his liking for the track with another emphatic victory.
Chloe Roddick’s mount Rebel Du Maquis threatened briefly on the bottom bend, but 4-7 favourite Byerley Bear strode clear of the ex-Paul Nicholls chaser up the final hill. The winner’s trainer Robert Chanin said, “He is stronger than ever this year and has enjoyed his hunting. There are no firm plans but he may go for a hunter chase at Taunton in January.” Leanda Tickle was equally enthusiastic. “He was at his best and switched on when challenged,” reported Leanda who rides out for Victor Dartnall as well as Robert Chanin and Leslie Jefford.
Double Bank is one of the most genuine pointers in the west country and kept up a relentless gallop to defy a penalty in the Men’s Open at the expense of Kirkleigh and Champagne Rosie. “He jumped his way into the lead and I let him bowl on,” explained regular rider Merv Woodward. The winner is trained for owner Jonathan Cole by Emma Oliver at Teign Valley. “Double Bank has won over trips from two miles 5 furlongs to three and a quarter miles and all types of ground,” explained Emma, who also has an eye on the Taunton hunter chase next month.
“The finishing hill here is like Cheltenham,” quipped John Mathias who came from Wales for one ride. This was the game Raffa who duly followed up his recent Black Forest win with a hard fought success over Supreme Danehill in the Intermediate. Joint owner Lucy Fielding-Johnson said of her home bred seven-year-old, “He loves going up hills but is a bit small and may struggle in Opens”.
It was a good training performance from Spaxton based Teresa Clarke to send out Takamaru to win the Restricted. The eight-year-old had been off the course for 18 months but stripped fit and well to defy the favourite Theatre Goer and Ratline Rosie. Takamaru was bought for the Four 4 Fun Partnership last summer from Ashley Farrant, and spokesman Phil Browne commented, “The partnership was formed over a few drinks at the Blue Ball pub in Triscombe near Taunton and I think there is more to come from this horse.” Successful jockey, 19-year-old David Noonan hails from Kilbrin, County Cork, and works for David Pipe. “This is my fifth winner and I still qualify as a novice rider,” said the jockey.
The novice rider race on this card went to Working Title, who was a fourth winner for 18-year-old Joe Drinkwater. who works for Tom Lacey. The same horse had provided Joe with his first winner in the corresponding race last season. “He will come back here for an Open in January,” said the jockey’s brother Sam who trains the family owned 12-year-old.
Persistent drizzle descended into gloom for the closing Maiden events which attracted fields of 13 and 12 respectively. Rookie trainer Ben Clarke saddled his first winner with only his second runner when Desert Queen won the first Maiden division. A grand daughter of Dubacilla, Desert Queen pulled hard under Michael Legg but had enough in hand to repel the game effort of Wilde At Heart.
The unlucky departure of Westbrooke at the third last left five-year-old The Sweetener ( Jamie Thomas) clear in the closing Maiden where runner up Sisterbrooke caught the eye. Kayley Woollacott saddled the winner, who is from the family of Grand National winner Comply or Die, for owners Paul Govier and Geoffrey Brown. “Jamie has done a fantastic job with him. He had disappointed for Richard (Woollacott) under rules but has had a wind operation,” stated the Rose Ash trainer.
Members Race Novice Riders (Sponsor Home Furnishings (Wadebridge) Ltd)
1 Working Title (Joe Drinkwater) 6-4 fav led from 2nd, drew clear flat
2 Ladyvie (Hannah Welch) 6-1 good late progress, took 2nd flat
3 Weston Lodge (Sean Houlihan) 14-1 hdwy 12th, chased wnr from 14th, wknd flat
9 ran; 15l; 1l; 6mins 17secs
Owner: Mr P Drinkwater; Trainer: Sam Drinkwater
Men’s Open (Moores St. Wenn Ltd)
1 Double Bank (Merv Woodward) 7-2 led from 6th, drew clear 3 out
2 Kirkleigh (Tom Chanin) 2-1 chased wnr from 4 out, no extra from 2 out
3 Champagne Rosie (Michael Legg) 7-2 tracked ldrs, went 3rd apprg last
6 ran; 12l; 1 1/2l; 6m 21s
Owner: Mr JD Cole; Trainer: Emma Oliver
Ladies’ Open (RJ Trevarthen)
1 Byerley Bear (Leanda Tickle) 4-7 fav made all, drew away 2 out, easily
2 Rebel Du Maquis (Chloe Roddick) 7-2 cl 2nd 14th, ev ch til outpaced from 3 out
3 Romney Marsh (Hannah Welch) 25-1 prom til no extra from 4 out
5 ran; 10l; 8l; 6m 12s
Owner; Mr R Knowles; Trainer : Robert Chanin
Restricted (The Nare Hotel)
1 Takamaru (David Noonan) 11-4 took lead 3 out, rdn clr last
2 Theatre Goer (Ian Chanin) 7-4 fav with ldrs, 3rd 3 out, took 2nd flat
3 Ratline Rosie (Jamie Thomas) 2-1 led 8th til after 4 out, no extra 2 out
5 ran; 4l; 2l; 6m 26s
Owner: The Fun 4 Four Partnership; Trainer: Teresa Clark
Intermediate (Hutchinsons- Crop Production Specialists)
1 Raffa (John Mathias) 4-5 fav made virtually all, ran on strongly when pressed flat
2 Supreme Danehill (Darren Edwards) 9-4 went 2nd 4 out, pressed wnr til no extra close home
3 Pasternak Jack (Heidi Lewis) 33-1 with wnr 12th til wknd 4 out
5 ran; 2l; 20l; 6m 18s
Owner: Mr R Mitford-Slade & Mrs L Fielding –Johnson
Open Maiden Div 1 (Miller & Son)
1 Desert Queen (Michael Legg) 10-1 led 4 out, rdn clr flat
2 Wilde At Heart (Chelsea Jennings) 40-1 led 7th til 4 out, kept on well
3 According To Harry (Darren Edwards) 33-1 rear, stayed on clsg stages
13 ran; 2l; 1l; 6m 22s
Owner: Mrs R Clarke; Trainer: Ben Clarke
Open Maiden Div 2 (Harris Begley)
1 The Sweetener (Jamie Thomas) 11-1 left clear 3 out, rdn out
2 Sisterbrooke (Robbie Henderson) 12-1 tracked ldrs, went 2nd 2 out
3 Miss Weld (Pippa Glanville) 14-1 led 6th til 4 out
12 ran; 1 1/2l; 2l; 6m 30s
Owner: P Govier & G Brown; Trainer: Kayley Woollacott
Point to Point horse racing enthusiasts will be heading to the Royal Cornwall Showground in Wadebridge this weekend, where the Cornwall Club will be hosting their fixture on Sunday December 14.
It promises to be an exciting day out for all the family, with some super racing, together with a real festive feel to the occasion. The huge covered barn will contain a host of trade stands making it an ideal way to include some Christmas shopping. Seven races are on offer attracting 78 quality entries. The first race, the Home Furnishings (Wadebridge) Ltd Cornwall Club Members race for novice riders,heads up the action at 12 Noon. Entered is the Samuel Drinkwater- trained Working Title who won this race last season, but was well held in seventh place two weeks ago at Black Forest Lodge. Cock Of The Rock from the David Brace team looked to have needed the run, when fifth in the same race. Valentine Vic from the Chloe Roddick team finished second here at the January meeting behind another entry Googoobarabajagal, who is now trained by Lucy Gardner for owner and jockey Rob Stoneman.
Next up is the Mens Open race sponsored by Moores of St Wenn Ltd, being a qualifier for the £7,500 Bonhams Mens Open Point-to-Point Championship Final Hunter Chase at Cheltenham in April, this race will attract many of the top male jockeys from around the country. The Anglea Davies-trained Champagne Rosie won her Intermediate race here last season, and could well see current National Champion male jockey Will Biddick aboard. Whenharrymetsally is also entered for the Keith Cumings team, she is unbeaten in her last four outings including first time out this season, when winning two weeks ago at Black Forest Lodge. Kirkleigh from the Robert Chanin team has been reported to be schooling well after a summer break, and connections will be hoping he improves on his previous course second here.
The Ladies Open race is an AGA ITotal Control Championiship race, with the first three ladies past the post gaining points towards the championship. This race is sponsored by R J Trevarthen. The Robert Chanin-trained entry Byerley Bear is a course specialist here, having won five times in Ladies Opens, and will be looking to serve it up to his challengers and is the likely ride for Leanda Tickle. Rebel Du Marquis from the Chloe Roddick yard looks an interesting challenger, and could play a major part if fit. Having previously won five Chases and two Hurdle races, his wins include a Ladies Hunter Chase race at Cheltenham under National Leading Lady rider Bridget Andrews.
Hutchinsons Ltd sponsor the Restricted race, in which the Welsh raider Railway Benefit from the Gareth Moore team could take home the spoils. Having won under jockey Nick Williams at Black Forest Lodge two weeks ago, connections could be looking for a quick fire double if the horse stays fit and progresses .
The Intermediate race is a qualifier for the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate Championship to be held at Cheltenham, this race is sponsored by The Nare Hotel.Entries include the Becky Kennen-trained My Rebel who under Leanda Tickle got the better of Raffa at Upcott Cross in April. Raffa now has the benefit of a recent outing at Black Forest Lodge, where he ran impressively under jockey John Mathias coming home to win, four lengths ahead of Bob The Butcher. Another to catch the eye is the Lee Glanville-trained Milled, who has some good form behind him.
Two divisions of the Open Maiden follow, the first is sponsored by Miller & Son, entries include the John Heard-trained Follow The Paint who ran second under jockey Bridget Andrews at Chaddesley Corbett, and Russian Poet from the Dennis Branton yard, when under jockey Ciarian Gethings ran a promising fourth at the recent Black Forest Lodge meeting.
The second division is sponsored by Harris Begley, in which Sutton Storm previously scored a second at the course for trainer Angela Davis, and The Sweetener for the Kayley Woollacott team, ran well well in a hurdle race in the summer before falling at the last.
On course facilities include bookies, bar, hot food and drinks, trade stands all under large covered barn. Excellent track side viewing and easy parking. Course is located off A39 West of Wadebridge postcode PL27 7JE Entrance is £10 car and driver £5 per passenger, children under 16 free.
Met Office 5 day forecast: Wadebridge, 1.3 miles from PL27 7JE
A dramatic shoot out between French rider Guenet Barbara and Alice Mills of Great Britain has added extra spice to the climax of the Fegentri Lady Riders competition at the Sun Resorts International Jockeys’ Weekend. Champ De Mars now traditionally stages the final of the worldwide competition with the top eight amateurs battling it out on the 202 year old course. This time only eight points separate the experienced Ms Barbara and the 27 year old British girl who led the competition at one stage this season after a triumph at the Curragh in Ireland.
While the French rider is back in a bid to add the Fegentri title to her list of achievements it is Alice Mills one and only chance as the British prefer to give a different rider a once in a lifetime opportunity to ride the tracks around the world and finish up at the ancient and atmospheric track in the middle of Port Louis. She said: «We have a selection process in England and although everyone would like to do it not many can afford the entire year riding in a competition. With all the travel and all the races and if you are in full time employment it makes life very difficult. This year there have been 28 races all over the world and more countries entering riders than ever before. Because I am self employed and work freelance I had the opportunity to organize myself and say yes.»
She makes it sound simple but this lady who devotes her life to horses has to fund herself and pay an agent, Russ James, who sources her rides on both flat and jump courses. The money is brought in by riding out for stables around the country and to make ends meet she sold her flat and “sofa surfs”, as she calls it, around the homes of friends and relatives, working on a tight schedule. You only have to look at the amateurs jockeys’ web site to see just how dodgy this is as it lists help for riders in bereavement, debt, Gamblers anonymous, Injured jockeys, National Drinkline, National Drugs line and, of course, the Samaritans!
She admits: « Once you are in that’s what you do , when you are in racing you eat, sleep and drink racing and when it finishes some struggle with life afterwards. It is a difficult industry with everything often out of your own hands and when you finish when you are still young, sometimes through injury or lack of opportunity and even if you see it through there is still a lifetime ahead. «It is addictive and an adrenalin thrilled buzz. I have just started building up my own business Forever Living making Aloe Vera based products which eventually I can turn into a full time career, but I am not thinking about it yet!» She freely admits she has been lucky and has had only two layoffs through injury in her career, once with a broken collar bone and the other, more lengthy spell out when the hoof of a horse with a broken leg caught her in the face and fractured eight bones at Cheltenham.»
She added: «In ten years I have been very fortunate, very lucky. I am not superstitious and never worry about it. They say statistically you will have a fall one in every ten rides and minor injuries one in every 25 and a serious injury one in every 250! I have had around six hundred rides – that is why I consider myself very lucky, but it is one of the things that go with the job. There is a lot of titanium in there now my face now and it was a frustrating few weeks when I was recovering as there was no money coming in at all. There is no fund for amateurs.» But the trip around the globe has more than compensated and she says: It has been fabulous going to so many countries and so many different courses.»
«It has given me the chance to see the world and meet a lot of fabulous people with the same interest and here we are at the fabulous Long Beach Hotel in the sun. I can’t complain. I love it. I am fortunate in England as there is a fund to pay for my flights for the year, whereas in some countries there is no funding so they have to find their own sponsor or fund it themselves. The horses are all drawn and obviously luck comes into it and I lost my lead in the competition when I drew a complete dud in Germany which tailed off and the French girl won the race to take over at the top of the table. There are 20 points for a win and 12 for second place so that is how tight it is. I have looked at the horse I have been drawn and while it is very young it comes from a good yard and would have been one of my choices. It is fairly consistent and although this is a little longer race than normal it has a record of finishing strongly.»
She feels confident on VDS
If you are thinking of putting your rupees on Alice Mills and her South African born horse Van Der Scaler feel confident as she has ridden winners against professionals and men and has still managed several big wins including a staggering 100-1 victory on Tayarat in February in the Henley Hall Gold Cup – her very first race against professionals! Her French rival has drawn another good horse, Imperial Palace, and it will be a genuine shoot out for the glory and the trophy, even if there is no prize money. She will have a lot of support back home where she is a popular figure with jockeys of both genders, amateur and professional and is accepted by them all. As an amateur she is allowed to compete against the pros in jump races but, strangely, not on the flat where competition is restricted to amateurs only.
She also has mother, former jockey Janine Mills and father Robin, also a racing man, flying in for the race. It is special for Robin as he suffered a near death experience earlier in the year and as a consequence Alice now works hard for Air Ambulances who came to the rescue.