Point-to-point highlights from the three meetings that took place over the weekend (22–23 January).
A mare gets her season off to a winning start, while a couple of horses put a run of “seconditis” behind them.
Tiverton Foxhounds, Chipley Park
HIGHWAY JEWEL (pictured above) delivered a gem of a performance on her seasonal debut in the INEOS Grenadier mixed open under Bradley Gibbs as connections eye Cheltenham on the horizon.
The Highway Partnership’s Irish-bred mare (Ask x Presenting) surged ahead of Singapore Saga (Darren Andrews) at the bottom of the final climb, gaining ground over her two rivals as she powered up the hill. She was a little tight into the penultimate fence, but remained well clear to maintain her 100% strike-rate in British point-to-points.
“She may have one more run in a hunter chase and then go to Cheltenham Foxhunter [now the St James’ Place Festival Hunters’ Chase],” said Bradley, who also trains the eight-year-old. “We will see how she is in the next week or so. We may just have to go straight to Cheltenham.”
The mare already has winning form at Cheltenham – scoring on her last outing at the track’s hunter chase night in April 2021 – and has only once been beaten this side of the Irish Sea, when finishing second to Latenightpass at Warwick hunter chase last February.
“She jumps and travels and just keeps going. She just tries very hard for you,” added Bradley.
The victory was the first of a double for Bradley, with the versatile Honey I’m Good, who “jumps like a bunny”, delivering in the restricted.
Other talking points included 16/1 outsider Steel Express (Martin McIntyre) overturning the favourite in the hunt members, and Ellie Jefferson taking her third win from seven starts in the novice riders aboard Cage Of Fear.
The Ellis yard enjoyed an across-the-card double with Indirocco (Gina Andrews) winning the intermediate at Chipley Park and Ellie Callwood breaking her duck on Precious Bounty in a maiden division at Cocklebarrow.
Double for King
REIGNING men’s champion James King enjoyed a double on two nice prospects. Drumlee Getaway, a former Irish pointer and recent recruit to Fran and Charlie Poste following a stint under Rules, partnered James to his first win of the day in the restricted.
“She did win an Irish point-to-point first time out, but never really translated to the racecourse [under Rules],” said James. “We thought she would go quite well – she ran in a tongue strap and on good ground for the first time today. She jumped superbly and travelled very well. Hopefully going forward, she will be a fun horse on good or better ground.”
James completed his double with a win in division two of the 7yo&up maiden on Whatya On About for owner-trainer Anabel Murphy.
The men’s and ladies’ open races were taken by Fifty Shades (Daniel Ellis) and Southfield Theatre (Lily Bradstock) respectively.
Caballo Diablo put misfortune at Sheriff Hutton behind him, where he was blocked early on by a loose horse, to win his maiden for jockey Alice Stevens, trainer Johnathan Barlow and owner John Wallwin.
“Could he have won [last week]? Who knows. But he probably got his track and his ground today, and by the end of the day it was riding on the softer side at Sheriff Hutton,” said Alice, philosophically. “His owner puts a lot into the sport and loves his pointing, so more than anything I was delighted for him.”
On the up
Royal Artillery, Larkhill
IMPROVING eight-year-old Maitree Express made his mark in open company with his second Larkhill victory of the season. Alice Stevens piloted the Malinas son to glory for owner-trainer Robert Waley-Cohen.
“He looks a progressive type; I rode him at Barbury [finishing third] and the first thing I said to Kate Mawle, who trains him mostly at Robert’s, was that he just felt like a completely different horse,” she said, adding he had a “nice bunch of progressive horses” to beat.
“I think there’s hopefully more to come.”
Josh Newman bagged a brace of victories, starting with a conditions win on the Neal McLean-trained “genuine” Sixteen Letters and concluding with the “tough, game” mare Maid Of The Night in the four- and five-year-old bumper.
“Sixteen Letters is a lovely big horse, he has just had a bit of seconditis,” said Josh, who rode a tactical race to secure the gelding’s first win in almost three years. He added the horse “runs good races”, but isn’t always the strongest in a finish and has just been caught in the closing stages in the past.
Maiden winner Satellite Receiver proved himself a name to watch, with a 21-length victory for trainer Chris Barber and jockey Will Biddick.
No more ‘seconditis’
Jedforest, Friars Haugh
A STELLAR jumping performance clinched ladies’ open honours for Thyne For Gold and Immy Robinson.
Like Sixteen Letters, Thyme For Gold has also had a touch of “seconditis”, finishing runner-up on three of his last four starts with Immy.
“He’s a lovely horse and he jumps really well. He likes to just keep things simple,” said Immy, riding for the Tyrnog Racing Partnership and trainer Ray Owen.
“We winged the last – I saw a long stride from a long way out and said, ‘I’m having that one!’ He had his ears pricked the whole way,” she said.
The men’s open went to Rio Des Echanault and Nick Orpwood, who scored a quick-fire double with Takethepunishment in the veteran conditions.
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