Robbie Henderson, one of the most successful riders of the past few years, has decided to hang up his boots at the ripe old age of 25. “I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks,” he admitted, “and I wanted to go out on my terms, and while I felt I was the best that I could be. I didn’t want to be regressive. And Bratton Down is my favourite course, so it was the ideal place to finish.”
With a full-time job as an Insurance Broker, Robbie was finding it increasingly difficult to ride out during the week, and felt that he needed to be realistic and to focus on his career.
His success on Sahara Legend at Ashorne in 2005 was the first of his 98 winners between the flags, and he has won both the Wessex and the Devon & Cornwall area championships. Perhaps his proudest achievement in that sphere, though, was not just finishing runner-up to Will Biddick for the 2013/14 national title but the fact that nobody else, in the latter’s four years of supremacy, has managed to get any closer to him!
Robbie has also recorded 14 victories under Rules, with the highlight being his triumph on Ellerslie George, owned by his father Guy, in the 2009 Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton. “It was early in my career and I didn’t appreciate it as much as I would now,” he confessed, and he paid tribute to the winner’s trainer Nick Mitchell. “I started with him and he helped me so much,” he emphasised. “If you’d told me when I started that I’d ride 100 winners I wouldn’t have believed it,” he continued. “I was so bad to begin with, and fell off everything!”
He names as “very special” the winners which were trained at home by his father, while many of his successes were for Ed and Polly [Gundry] Walker, with whose syndicate of owners, the Otter Partnership, “I had some really good times,” and Richard and Kayley Woollacott.
Although Point-to-Pointing will undoubtedly leave a hole in his life, he stressed that he is retiring with no regrets and some wonderful memories.
And one imminent happening to which he is looking forward is the final meeting of the current campaign. “I’ll be able to enjoy the party at Umberleigh without worrying about riding!
OVERNIGHT rain gave way to a cool, blustery afternoon at Bratton Down where it was business as usual with a double for the unstoppable combination of trainer Jack Barber and jockey Will Biddick.
The progressive Whataknight was given a typically patient Biddick ride to win the Men’s Open. “He was rushed off his feet for the first two miles so I had to be patient. You can’t go quick and keep going quick here,” explained the rider on the verge of securing his fourth consecutive National championship. Six-year-old Whataknight remains unbeaten in his four races this season.
Trainer Jack Barber has enjoyed a remarkable season in winning his first trainers championship, increasing his winning tally from 14 last year to 50 this season. His half century came up when Brandevin, making his racecourse debut, overcame greenness to win a section of the Maiden which was divided on the day.
Once again Biddick nursed and educated his mount from the back until swooping to lead up the final climb. “He was really green and ticks every box. There is room for improvement in him,” reported Biddick, who was enjoying his 66th winner of the season and whose career successes in the saddle had topped the 300 mark at Stratford just a few days before. Four-year-old Brandevin was purchased at the Cheltenham breeze up sales last December by Tom Malone. He is now in the ownership of Colm Donlon and Richard Webb. “He has needed time but he works well and jumps well,” said Jack Barber.
The race was marred when Jo Buck was fired into the ground when her mount Strong Hurricane fell at the second fence. Jo was concussed and spent the night in Barnstaple hospital. She was reported to have facial injuries but thankfully a scan revealed no broken bones.
Biddick’s mount Master Max was runner up in the other Maiden division won by Matt Hampton on six-year-old mare Spendajennie. Bought at the Tattersalls Derby sales as a four-year-old, the Old Vic mare is owned by Andrew and Hannah Broggio and is trained by Kayley Woollacott who described her charge as, “ A lovely madam who works and jumps well at home,” Kayley was achieving her 25th pointing winner of the season, in addition to a hunter chase.
Claire Hitch trains just a few miles from the course and saddled Minella Fifty to win the Ladies’ Open after a battle with the consistent Presentandcorrect. The winning rider, 19-year-old Charlotte Prichard, is looking forward to three months working holiday in New Zealand during the summer.
Bernshaw has proved something of a Bratton Down course specialist for the Claire Hitch stable, but could only finish third on this occasion in the Hunt race behind The Mystro. Lee Drowne, who works in the Nigel Hawke yard, sent his mount to the front at the third last before drawing right away from Father Owen. Placed over hurdles in Ireland for Mouse Morris, the winner is now with Keith Cumings, and had been knocking at the door in his English points this season.
The Flying Doc treated her nine Restricted rivals with disdain. The mare was cruising coming to the last and Robbie Henderson only had to let out an inch of rein coming up the hill to overcome A Real Cliché and Winter Garden. “She is a pocket rocket and jumped brilliantly,” confirmed the jockey. Ed Walker bought the Dr Massini seven-year-old for only 4,000 euros at Tattersalls, Ireland last August. She had scored at Didmarton on her English debut in March where she was ridden by Ed Barrett, who subsequently suffered serious injuries in a fall at the Eggesford a few weeks later.
Favourite backers soon knew their fate when long distance traveller Credit Crunched blundered and unseated Johny Bailey at the fifth fence in the Intermediate which was run in memory of Donna Kingdon. What About Will took command entering the final circuit and strode clear after the last. Neil Harris saddled the winner who was partnered by Vicky Wade for her father Keith. “He has sharpened up his jumping after his two recent Hunter chases,” said the trainer.
To order tickets:
– Facebook message Katie Squire
– Phone 01805 603129
– or email email@example.com
Please ask for Bobbie at the New Continental, Plymouth when you call to book a room. Her direct number is 01752 276797.
Anyone with any trophies from last year’s awards or from previous years please let Katie Squire know, and bring them to Upcott Cross, Bratton Down or Chapleton Barton, Umberleigh She will be VERY happy !!!!!!! thanks !!!
1. CHURCHILL – Tamby Welch
2. THE JOBS NOT STRAIGHT – Tyler Heard
3. MOLLY – Connor Brace
4. GINGER WIZARD – Chad Bament
5. MAYDAY BLACK MINK – Charlie Sprake
6. MAGIC – Honor Weatherlake
7. CLONAMULLY DANNY BOY – Archie Woollacott
8. CHINKWELL FELIX – Taylor Fisher
NR BECCA WALK O’ THE WILD SIDE – Molly Landau
148cm & under
1. PEATEAOH – Connor Brace
2. VADLAWALKOVER – Tamby Welch
3. IGO ZUMINOV – James Armstrong
4. GOODNIGHT – Bruce Young
5. SPRINGS – Thomasina Eyston
6. SHOTGUN MINNIE – Tyler Heard
7. NUALA – Michael Treneer
The opening Maiden race produced a lively betting market. The most surprising move was for the Mike Weir owned and trained A Real Cliché who was seen at 14-1 before dropping in spectacular fashion to his SP of 4-1. A half brother to a winning hurdler, his Irish point to point form was quite moderate and he was bought very cheaply at Ascot in July 2013. Maybe the booking of Will Biddick inspired the gamble. This was his English pointing debut and he was well there until fading from the second last. He can be given another chance. Poor Follow The Paint is the perpetual bridesmaid. She looked sure to break her duck when jumping clear over the last, but was mugged near the post by the fast finishing Bollin Spark (6-1) who came with a storming run under novice rider Hedley Webb.
The majority of the nine runners in the featured four miles Ladies’ Open drifted in the market. Despite a losing run of eight, Bellflower Boy started favourite (7-4 touched 2’s) presumably on the strength of his good effort behind Hameldown Tor over course and distance two weeks ago Bryony Frost sent the favourite to the front after the third last and had the race won by the last jump. Best Bide Quiet had been beaten eleven times since his Maiden win but kept on best of the rest here under young Pippa Glanville to chase the winner home at 50-1
The 5-2 joint favourites rose at the last fence in unison in the two and a half miles Maiden. Whatastormnorm was in the process of throwing down a strong challenge but crashed out, leaving the six-year-old Frost trained mare Milan of Crystal well clear.
After Level Spirit (4-11fav) enjoyed a walk in the park literally in winning the Men’s Open under Robbie Henderson, the last race of the day turned into a thriller. Tamatown has proved difficult to win with for the past couple of years but attracted support from 10’s into 13-2 to win the Confined. He was found wanting again as course specialist Ambitious Pursuit (7-4) held on grimly as Mic’s Delight (4-6 to 4-5 fav) threw down a determined challenge on the run in. The pair were inseparable at the post and a dead heat seemed absolutely the correct result.
WILL BIDDICK is marching on towards his half century for the season in his quest for a fourth consecutive National jockeys’ title, and put three more winners in the bag at the Axe Vale meeting. Considering the recent dry spell, the organisers produced remarkably good ground thanks to extensive watering.
Subtle Sovereign was untroubled under the champion’s guidance in beating his two opponents to in win his first Open, easing clear in the home straight. “This was his eighth win in his last nine runs. We will probably wait another year before going hunter chasing,” said Jeremy Barber, whose son Jack was saddling his 38th winner of the season.
The progressive Whataknight soon made it 39 for the Dorset trainer, drawing right away from his rivals at the second last to win the Intermediate, “He is an out and out galloper and just keeps going,” commented Jack, who trains the six-year-old for owners Terry Hamlin, Martin Dare and John Snook.
The Barber/Biddick treble was completed when five-year-old Royalzaro beat 12 opponents to win the Restricted. “He was a cheap buy in France and is going the right way,” reported the young trainer.
Kostaquarta almost made if four winners for the yard but came off second best after a protracted battle with Fiulin in the Confined. Now with Ed Walker, the winner is owned by the Carstairs Clan which consists of Guy and Alex Carstairs and their young children Zak, Oliver and Euan. “He was losing ground over his fences in a hunter chase at Newton Abbot the other day and we will stick to pointing for a while now,” said the trainer. Fiulin has a remarkable CV. By Galileo, he fetched 280,000 guineas as a four-year-old. AP McCoy couldn’t win on him, but apart from his pointing wins for previous owner Ross Oliver, the sturdy 10-year-old has won on the flat and over hurdles, and competed at the Cheltenham festival and Royal Ascot. Phew !
Fiulin’s successful jockey Robbie Henderson was out of luck in the Hunt race when 1-4 favourite Hameldown Tor tumbled out of the race when caught by the flailing legs of Miss Cupcake at the 13th fence. This event went to former hurdles winner Moyne Nineoseven who was partnered by Vicky Wade for the Nineoseven Partnership. “I bought him at Ascot last October, He has a few quirks and we have waited for better ground,” said trainer Sarah Pidsley who has four pointers in her yard at Payhembury near Honiton.
Silver Token was a warm favourite for the Novice Riders’ race but gave Harry Cobden a nasty fall when crashing through the wing of the 14th fence. Loose Preformer (Hedley Webb) was left clear but failed to withstand the well timed challenge of Maxi Chop (James King) after jumping the last. Despite an expensive price tag, the seven-year-old did not reach the winner’s enclosure for Paul Nicholls, but is proving a good novice ride and was following up his Hackwood Park win on Easter Monday. “James King and Stan Sheppard are sharing the rides and it was the turn of James today. This horse has bled before and could finish distressed, but has got his confidence back now,” reported trainer Rose Loxton.
It is not always plain sailing, even for champions, and after receiving his trainer’s trophy on a euphoric day at Sandown, it was down to earth, literally, the next day in a field at Stafford Cross. Four-year-old San Satiro carried the champion trainer’s colours in the concluding Maiden. The raw youngster, trained by Jack Barber, only got as far as the fourth fence before virtually stopping and depositing Will Biddick on the Devon turf..
Boymann went on to win the event under Leanda Tickle. The seven-year-old was home bred by owner Paul Mann. “He was unlucky not to win last year when he threw away a race at Trebudannon. He needs good ground and is now my third winner with my last three runners,” exclaimed delighted trainer Joe Tickle.
148cms & under
1. GOLDWELLS’S GUCCI – Harriet Godfrey
2. SHOTGUN MINNIE – Tyler Heard
3. VADLAWALKOVER – Tamby Welch
4. IGO ZUMINOV – James Armstrong
5. BARBOZA – Isabel Hunt
6. GOODNIGHT – Bruce Young
7. SPRINGS – Thomasina Eyston
8. SONGBIRD – Finley Marsh
9. TWO THE MANOR BARN – William Cox
138cms & under
1. THE JOBS NOT STRAIGHT – Tyler Heard
2. GINGER WIZARD – Chad Bament
3. BECCA WALK O’ THE WILD SIDE – Molly Landau
4. MINKY – Zoe Stanbury
5. PARK HILL PLAYBOY – Joshua Brown
6. BROOMSDOWN HEAVENLY GIFT – Kelsie Beilby
7. CLONAMULLY DANNY BOY – Archie Woollacott
SU CHURCHILL – Tamby Welch
BD HELSINGTON VANETTA – Lewis McDonald