Cheering people’s successes never felt more important than at this chilly end of this dark and baffling year. A string of strong successes from British point-to-point graduates in recent weeks is a perfect reason to celebrate some of these wonderful horses who have had recents wins, and to direct the spotlight on where they started to where they are now.
British pointing itself is powering through, with huge fields at its pre- and post-lockdown 2.0 fixtures, and showing strength across all corners of the sport — not just the commercial side. With live-streaming up-and-running for points, the first racegoers allowed back to watch racing under Rules, and with more point-to-point sales on the horizon, now is a perfect chance to cheer some recent achievements.
We take a look at a handful of those who won between the flags on British courses who have claimed victory under Rules in recent weeks…
Does He Know (Alkaased x Slip Anchor)
Talking of success stories, this one is especially nice. The lovely five-year-old has made a flying start to his 2020/21 season with three back-to-back victories. The most recent of these came in the Grade Two Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham’s November meeting (13 November). The horse, now with H&H columnist Kim Bailey, started his career with the Jacqueline Coward and was bred by her grandfather, Mick Easterby. He won his pointing maiden as a four-year-old at Charm Park in 2019 and Kim told reporters at Cheltenham that he is “progressing every day”.
“Aiden Murphy and I bought him here when we fell in love with him at the sales,” said Kim, who has the Challow Hurdle as a possible target in mind for him. “Jacqueline Coward obviously had him, begged me to buy him, and he was the first horse she’d sold and she was very keen to have a good one come through — she’s got a reputation to look after and it was a good way for her to start, so well done to her.”
Mr Washington (Vinnie Roe x Be My Native)
The seven-year-old, bred by Frank Doyle and owned by Mrs J Hitchings, has had a blistering start to his 2020/21 season, with another to claim three wins from three starts, two of which came under conditional Lilly Pinchin — another talented recent graduate of the point-to-point ranks who is on the up in her first season as a professional (remember the name). He won his sole point-to-point start, back in 2017 at Cherrybrook for Jill Dennis, and has had several placings under Rules in recent seasons, but this autumn has found his form with a quick treble for trainer Tom Symonds.
Switch Hitter (Scorpion x Curtain Time)
This impressive young horse recorded the fastest time of the day when he won his pointing maiden at Maisemore in April under Tommie O’Brien for Francesca Nimmo and Charlie Poste’s operation, which is going from strength to strength. His next public appearance was at the 2019 Tattersalls Cheltenham April sale, where he sold for a cool £120,000 — the highest priced British pointer at the sale — to Tom Malone and the horse’s now trainer, Paul Nicholls. Richard Pugh, director of horse in training sales, even mentioned him as highlighting “the increased quality of young pointers in the UK”. He claimed his first Rules victory at the third time of asking, “gamely” winning a novices’ hurdle at Kempton on 9 November under Briony Frost, another rider to start her career between the flags.
Glory And Honour (Elusive Pimpernel x Sakhee)
The four-year-old was first past the post at his sole pointing start at Chaddesley Corbett in February this year, dominating the field with a relentless gallop to come home 20 lengths in front for trainer Anya Ingman and jockey Tommie O’Brien. But confusion over withdrawal times for GastroGuard led to him later being disqualified. The gelding, bred by Michael Hickey and now owned by Jerry Hinds and Ashley Head, has joined Tom Lacey’s yard and finished second on his first two starts under Rules before getting off the mark in a two-mile maiden hurdle at Huntington in November.
Blackbow (Stowaray x Accordian)
On the subject of the Laceys… two of their smart graduates brought home their first chase wins within days of each other for their new yard, under the guidance of Irish Champion trainer Willie Mullins. The seven-year-old won his point three years ago in the short maiden at Maisemore for Sophie Lacey and jockey Tommie O’Brien, before selling for £150,000 to join the Mullins stable in 2017. He won a beginners chase at Navan on 22 November with David Mullins in the saddle. Meanwhile Energumene (Denham Red x April Night), bred by Christophe Dubourg, made his mark over Irish fences at Gowran on 20 November under Paul Townend. He won his pointing maiden at Larkhill in January 2018, also with Tommie in the saddle, and was sold privately into Mullins’ yard, where he has won his last three starts — a bumper, over hurdles and now over fences.
Eurobot (Malinas x Cyborg)
This flash six-year-old, bred in Britain by Chris Harriman, scored his pointing maiden at Andoversford for the point-to-point 2019/20 champion trainer/rider husband and wife team of Tom and Gina Ellis (neé Andrews) by a cool 20 lengths. He sold for £105,000 at Goffs Aintree sale in April 2018 to trainer Noel Meade and bloodstock agent Mags O’Toole to join Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud operation. The chestnut gelding made his seasonal debut a winning one, leaving the field 18 lengths in his wake to score on his second start over fences (under Rules) in a beginners chase at Thurles on 19 November.
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One True King (Getaway x Glacial Storm)
Strictly speaking, this classy five-year-old, bred by Joe Fogarty, is a graduate of the Irish system. But given his first career win came between the flags at Barbury International — whose 2021 date happens to be this weekend (13 December, behind closed doors, but livestream available) — here he is. More importantly, the eye-catching chestnut (bought for €40,000 as a three-year-old) was an impressive winner under top amateur James King, recommended for the ride by Charlie Poste and Hamish Macauley, and his then trainer Cormac Doyle. He is now in the hands of Nigel Twiston-Davies and ran in the Champion Bumper in March, scoring his first win over obstacles in October. He has since followed up with two second places at Cheltenham, most recently, beaten by a head in the novices’ handicap hurdle at the November meeting (13 November).
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