ENVOYE SPECIAL (pictured above) won the second division of the conditions (level two) going away under defending men’s champion point-to-point jockey James King and for trainer Christopher Barber.
“It was a case of switching him off and settling him as early as possible as his best form has come over two and 2½ miles,” explained James of the seven-year-old owned by Mrs P Bunter and who formerly clocked up some nice form under Rules for Paul Nicholls. “He jumped himself into the race two from home and ended up winning going away at the line under a 5lb penalty.”
James, who said that Envoye Special will now be aimed at Hunter Chase races, with Aintree and Cheltenham as possible ultimate targets, explained that running him in a point-to-point first was to “help blow away the cobwebs and take some freshness out of him”.
“He is free-going, buzzy at home and a bit of a handful so it’s nice to have accomplished our mission here.”
Going off a 4/7 favourite, Luke Scott got the job done aboard Yeomen Warder in the four- and five-year-old maiden for owner/trainer Thomas Weston. The four-year-old, by Shirocco, put his last performance at Hexham at the end of November, where he was pulled up, behind him, to score victory by three lengths.
The eight-year-old Igor, who came out of training with Nicky Henderson earlier this year after a campaign under Rules for the Waley-Cohen family, scored his first win since November 2019, when he won a maiden hurdle at Ascot. Victory this time came in the 12-runner mixed open under Sam Waley-Cohen, clocking the fastest time of the day in the process.
The Big Sting, a six year-old trained by Christopher Barber and owned by Phil Fry, carried on his unbeaten record between the flags, when cruising home five lengths clear in the restricted under Will Biddick. This makes it two wins from two runs for the son of Scorpion’s connections, with the first coming at the same track in late November.
Dragon d’Estruval, who won over £113,000 under Rules for Willie Mullins, Nicky Henderson and former owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, got his pointing career off to a winning start under Ben Bromley. This young jockey, who was riding for his father, Anthony, and Mrs R T Watson, partnered the eight-year-old, by Enrique, to a 12-length victory in division one of the conditions (level two) race.
There were two two-mile flat races for four- and five-year-olds to kick off the card, with the Kelly Morgan-trained Presenting Miranda winning division one under Alice Stevens for The Isjamala Group, while The Tablet won division two under Zac Baker for owner/trainer Maurice Linehan.
First win: Arron Butterfield breaks his duck on 35th attempt
EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLD Arron Butterfield broke his duck on his 35th attempt, after he first took up pointing in November 2019. His win came in the maiden six-year-old and up aboard the seven-year-old Footloose, who he owns and trains (pictured).
“I bought this horse from Harriet and Charlotte Brown earlier this year and he was quirky when he arrived as he was a big raw baby, napping and not wanting to go out of the yard on his own, so I took him back to basics,” explained Arron, who works as an amateur jockey for Colin Tizzard. “The work we’ve done with him has paid off and he won nicely today – I was riding in the colours of my granddad, who passed away around 12 years ago, but those colours had never finished first past the post, so there will be a celebration!”
Aaron hopes to “kick on” with Footloose again after Christmas and aspires to have a career similar to that of fellow jockey Will Biddick.
“I’m a bit of a big lad, so wouldn’t be able to do the weight to ride as a conditional jockey, so I’d like to stay pointing and try to ride winners every weekend,” explained Arron.
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