A lovable ‘hooligan’ trounces his rivals, while perseverance pays off for a tricky but talented horse

  • Point-to-point highlights from both meetings that took place this weekend (14 November).

    A 13-year-old trumps his younger rivals to head the mixed open, while a novice rider breaks his duck

    Dunsmore Racing Club, Dunsmore, Devon

    Lovable “hooligan” Southfield Theatre proved not to be underestimated in favour of younger rivals to triumph in style on his seasonal debut.

    Angela Yeoman’s evergreen 13-year-old led from flag-fall to dictate the pace of the three-runner mixed open – the first in the new INEOS Grenadier-sponsored series, featuring bumper prize money.

    The King’s Theatre son out-jumped evens favourite Chameron, five years his junior, to bowl home one-and-a-quarter lengths in front.

    “I was quite hopeful that with a good round of jumping, he would put [Chameron] under the sword,” said winning jockey Lily Bradstock (pictured), riding for trainer mother Sara. “He is still a hooligan at home, but as soon as you get to the races, he just loves it.”

    The day started well for the bookies, with favourites beaten in the first four races.

    Shannon Lodge Racing Club’s “nice gent” four-year-old Park This One marked himself as one to watch with a smart staying performance under Josh Newman in the opening race.

    The Neil McLean-trained gelding (Walk In The Park x Shirocco) maintained pressure on the Tom Malone favourite Captain Westie, pinching him within a whisper of the finish in the four- and five-year-old maiden.

    “He does his best work at the end, so if you use it too soon, he won’t finish off well,” said Josh. “He’s still green, but he’s honest and he does gallop all the way to the line.”

    In Arrears juxtaposed her name to grasp victory in the conditions race for owner/trainer Gordon Edwards, battling up the final hill under a strong ride by his son, leading jockey Darren.

    “My mare is not short of ability. I finished third on her in a hunter chase around Ascot a couple years ago to Virak and she has lost her way, big time,” said Darren, explaining that she is a difficult character, but the family love her.

    “The way the race played out, I tracked James [King, Thumb Stone Blues] and Pippa [Glanville, Inch Rock] around the bottom at the third last and they just gave me a target up the straight. She liked having a horse to chase down.”

    The restricted delighted crowds with another close-fought finish. The leading trio of Accordini, Eole D’Un Regard and Thomas Crown rose in unison at the final flight, landing together, pushing towards the finish line in a single motion. But it was the Gareth Moore-trained Accordini who found that extra surge of power, urged on by reigning men’s champion James King.

    “It’s great to win for these connections, they’ve been very good to me over the years,” said James, who is also eyeing this year’s title race. “If you can chip in a winner here, there and everywhere each week before Christmas, before the New Year, it can all help.”

    Seven-time champion title winner Will Biddick took the final race of the afternoon with a comfortable win on Tom Malone’s Truckers Pass.

    The seven-year-old “proper classy” Kalanisi son cruised across the undulating left-handed track in fifth position for the bulk of the race. As the field approached the bottom of the final pull up the long hill to home, Will flicked the switch and the gelding responded – moving up a gear in both pace and stride length to devour the rising ground.

    First win: “I’d never sat on a horse before”

    Monatorium and Nathan Green

    Four years ago, Nathan Green had never ridden a horse. Fast forward to 2021 and the now 23-year-old scored his first win on only his second point-to-point start aboard the Myles Osborne-trained Moratorium in the novice riders’ race.

    “I went to racing school when I was 19 and I’d never sat on a horse before,” said Nathan, who initially joined Ben Pauling’s yard on placement while at the Northern Racing College and has been there since.

    Nathan works with Myles at the Pauling yard and the pair use their lunch break to train the pointers in a “real team effort”, also involving Myles’ girlfriend, Celine De La Haye, and father.

    “I never thought I would have this opportunity, but I’m so lucky to get it,” he said. “What a spin he gave me. He was unbelievable. So clever. He didn’t miss a beat.”

    Garrettstown finds his way

    Knightwick Races, Knightwick, Worcestershire

    Garrettstown and Paige Topley

    Perseverance was rewarded for Paige Topley and the tricky yet talented Garrettstown, with both horse and rider overcoming their own challenges to win their first start of the season.

    The pair topped the 10-strong novice riders’ race with a solid jumping performance, crossing the line six lengths ahead of Welsh’s Castle.

    “He was a very good horse in his younger days. He got brought down early in his chasing career and lost his way a bit,” said Paige, who bought the eight-year-old gelding from Olly Murphy.

    Garrettstown’s clever brain, coupled with the fact he bled first time out, means that Paige and her father, David (“he loves the horse to bits”), have worked hard to find the right training balance.

    “He’s not been an easy horse, but we think we’ve got him right now and he won well,” she said. “He was having a think at the start about planting and throwing himself around, but as soon as the flag drops, he knows what his job is.

    “He just never makes things simple! We’ve got a little pony, Harvey, from the RSPCA that we adopted for him – he keeps him in his field and stops him from running around his box.”

    Paige, who recently joined Fran and Charlie Poste’s yard, explained how the couple has helped with her own journey.

    “Charlie’s been teaching me the ropes because I lost my way as a rider a bit last season and I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to do it any more,” she said. “I’ve been with them a few weeks, done loads of schooling and they prepped me for today.”

    Tommie O’Brien enjoyed a red-letter day with a brace of wins and two second places from four rides. His first trophy of the afternoon came aboard restricted winner Winter Holiday, for trainer Charlotte Fuller.

    “She’s a real tough, gutsy mare that gets the trip well,” said Tommie, adding that he thought Blossoming Forth (second by 18 lengths) would be his main challenge. “I was keen to make it a good test. We ended up getting on top at the end of the back straight – she kept galloping well and just out-battled the other.”

    Trio For Rio and Tommie O’Brien

    Tommie later paired-up with the Clive Boultbee-Brooks owned and trained Trio For Rio, with whom he claimed Cheltenham hunter chase night success in April, to take mixed open honours.

    “He’s a real character and everyone at Clive’s yard loves him – he’s a bit of a stable star,” he said. “I think today there was a little bit more juice in the ground and it brought out the best in him.”

    A cosy victory

    Immy Robinson and The Dellercheckout added another win to their record with a confident success in the opening conditions race. Connections are taking a “step-by-step” approach to the winning hunter chaser’s seasonal campaign and the quality eight-year-old will remain in points for “at least” his next start.

    “At times he can be a little bit slow off the mark on his first run of a season, but he wasn’t today. He actually did it quite cosily, even though it was only by half a length,” said Immy.

    Two maiden races rounded off the six-race card. Midnight Jitterbug, trained by Sarah Bosley and owned by Liz Prowting, scored his first-ever win in the five-year-old and over 2m 4f maiden after switching to pointing from his hurdling career.

    “Darren Andrews gave him a superb ride,” said Sarah, adding that they are still learning things about the “sensitive but honest” nine-year-old gelding.

    On-song rider-trainer Bradley Gibbs took the final race on the five-year-old El Diablo.

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