INEOS Grenadier Mixed Open winner, Highway Jewel

REPORT – TIVERTON FOXHOUNDS AT CHIPLEY PARK WRITTEN BY GRANVILLE TAYLOR

“And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.”

From the poem Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas, (1914 – 1953), whose equine namesake sired convincing second race winner Southfield Megan.

The Tiverton Foxhounds featured a riding and training double for Bradley Gibbs, hot on the heels of Will Biddick for this season’s National jockeys’ title, and a head to head duel between Biddick and leading lady rider Gina Andrews in the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate qualifier.
A very large crowd at Chipley Park brought the overflow car park into use. This popular venue normally offers competitive racing and Sunday’s seven race card proved a treat for spectators.

Gibbs made all the running on the classy Highway Jewel to beat her two opponents Singapore Saga and Al Shahir in the £1,000 INEOS Grenadier Mixed Open Qualifier. A winner of a Cheltenham hunter chase last season, this high class mare will be heading to the Cheltenham festival in March for the prestigious prize formerly known as the Cheltenham Foxhunter Chase, and could also take in the final of the INEOS series at Cheltenham in May. The trainer/ rider said, “I hope that Highway Jewel will be our number one for the Foxhunters, fingers crossed, and Premier Magic will be our back up. She (Highway Jewel) missed a month’s work with a sarcoid earlier in the season. We went a sensible pace today and she was popping away. I was delighted,”

INEOS Grenadier Mixed Open winner, Highway Jewel
INEOS Grenadier Mixed Open winner, Highway Jewel, at Chipley Park on Sunday 23rd January 2022

Gibbs moved his training operation from South Wales to Hatfield, Hertfordshire, in 2020 working with his fiancée Claire Sheriff. The combination secured their Chipley double as the promising six-year-old mare Honey I’m Good lived up to her name with an easy victory in the Agrii and Mole Valley Farmers sponsored Restricted. “She came from Ireland sourced from Jimmy Kelly after showing promise in point to points. She now runs for a syndicate of ten and the long term aim is a Mares hunter chase at Cheltenham later this season,” reported Claire.
Will Biddick is riding as well as ever this season after breaking an ankle last May. He retained his lead for this year’s title by landing his 15th winner of the season with a typical waiting ride on Southfield Megan in the Jockey Club and Clarke Willmott Solicitors Mares and Fillies event. Biddick has had this Dylan Thomas six-year-old in his own yard since December after her spell under rules. She runs in the familiar colours of Angela Yeoman and thwarted a substantial gamble on the runner up Highland Glory.

The seven times champion jockey had to give best however to Gina Andrews as the promising Tom Ellis trained Warwickshire mare Indirocco held the efforts of odds-on favourite The Big Sting in the Exeter Racecourse Intermediate. Eight time National champion, Gina. who recently broke Polly Gundry’s all time record of 303 career winners for lady pointing riders, is already in pole position for another title. “Indirocco is a strong stayer and I was eager to set up a soft lead. We got into a lovely rhythm and he jumped super,” said Gina who was having her first ride at Chipley.

First time blinkers helped Feu Des Malberaux land the Mountpleasant Inn and friends of the late Geoff White Open Maiden in the hands of Darren Edwards. The seven-year-old, who jumped soundly out in front all the way, was a first training success for Paul Nicholas, one of two pointers he has at Combe Martin, North Devon. Paul shares ownership with his wife Lesley and blacksmith Keith Parkin and remarked, “I bought him as a three-year-old in Ireland as I particularly like his sire Linda’s Lad”

There was a customary Welsh success at Chipley in the shape of Cage of Fear, who gave his trainer Ellie Jefferson her third winner in the saddle in the Tozers Solicitors and McVeigh Parker PPORA Novice Riders’ event. Cage of Fear pounced on the leaders three out and stayed on strongly on the long pull to the finish.

16-1 outsider Steel Express shocked punters by beating his five higher rated opponents in the Stoneman Engineering, John Pearce& Brian Summers Hunt race. Mike Vanstone trains the winner at Rackenford for owners Nigel MacKenzie, Richard Dening and Sue Quick. Martin McIntyre rode a canny race on the winner who was scoring for the first time since his Exeter bumper success just over six years ago. Some lively activity in the ring included a four figure bet on Where’s Wilma, but the cash stayed in the bookies satchel as the prolific mare could only finish fourth.

Granville Taylor
Granville Taylor

Devon & Cornwall Point-To-Point Press Officer and PtPRC Race Reader

Photo Credit: Cat Down Photography
(Official photographer for the fixture)