An £800 bargain horse bought “by a complete stroke of luck” with a single bid has helped a jockey score his 100th pointing win with an unbeaten record on British soil.
The pint-sized Fumet D’Oudairies, who would be “no more than 15.2hh”, scored his fourth win from as many starts in British point-to-points at Horseheath on Saturday (29 February).
All four victories came under leading amateur Jack Andrews, who spotted the now five-year-old with his sister, six-time ladies’ pointing champion Gina.
The French-bred gelding (Della Francesca x Califet), trained by Gina’s husband Tom Ellis (G&T Racing), opened his account with a storming 15-length win in his debut over fences in the short maiden at Cottenham on the first day of the 2019/20 pointing season (17 November). The pair followed this up with a victory in the restricted at the same course at the end of December, then back-to-back wins at Horseheath last month.
“He has definitely exceeded our expectations,” Jack told H&H today (Wednesday, 4 March). “When a horse costs what he did, you don’t really expect an awful lot. We thought if he could nick a maiden at the end of the year, we would have been happy with that. He’s done nothing but get better and better.
“He is very sharp at home — you wouldn’t want him next to your name on a Monday morning. Because he is so small, when he does something there’s not a lot to hold on to, but he doesn’t ride that small and considering my height, I don’t feel big on him.
The horse’s standout performances this season mean he is now jointly heading the national champion horse leaderboard with the experienced Just Cause, who is also unbeaten this season.
Jack added the horse, who is owned by G&T Racing’s Ice and a Slice Racing Club, thrives on his routine at home.
“Gina calls him ‘Nic’ at home, because we nicked him from the sales, but others have started calling him ‘The Champion’, I’m not sure where that came from,” he laughed.
The partnership’s four wins have also helped put Jack in the mix for the men’s championship, which he now leads with 2017/18 title holder Alex Edwards on 14 wins, and have strengthened Tom’s lead in the trainers’ contest.
For a full report on the action from Horseheath, don’t miss this week’s issue of Horse & Hound — out tomorrow (Thursday, 5 March).
What’s the story?
“It all started at Doncaster [May] sales,” Tom told H&H at Cottenham in November, after the horse’s first win.
“Jack and I had been up there all week and Gina came up for the horses in training sale.
“I went to load two horses we had already bought and was watching the next go through the ring on the screen when I saw him knock down to Gina and Jack for £800. I thought ‘oh my god, what have they done?!’.
“I got to the stable and said ‘have you looked at him’, and they replied ‘no, we just liked the look of him walking round the ring, so we bought him’.
“He was a tiny little weak horse, but his runs Ireland were ok. We gave him a good summer break and he’s strengthened up loads. He’s been doing his work really well at home, he schools well and he gallops well so I’m absolutely over the moon.”
Jack added the purchase was “completely by chance”.
“We were standing there when this horse walked in the ring and he’d had a little bit of form in Ireland and had only run three times as a four-year-old.
“There were no bids for him and we thought ‘what’s wrong with him?’,” he said. “So we looked over the bar and his legs looked alright — he was sold subject to examination — so we had one bid and bought him. He looks cheap now as I couldn’t pull him up! He won that with bags in hand.”
Would you like to read Horse & Hound’s independent journalism without any adverts? Join Horse & Hound Plus today and you can read all articles on HorseandHound.co.uk completely ad-free