Taking the pressure off pays dividends for seasoned campaigner – and provides 16-year-old with his first winner

  • A young jockey enjoys his first winner, while some former National Hunt horses relish a change in career direction.

    Point-to-point highlights from two of the the three meetings that took place over the weekend (5–6 February).

    South East Hunts Club, Charing, Kent

    Sixteen-year-old Freddie Gordon got his race riding career off the mark when taking the veteran horse conditions (level two) 9yo&up with Highway One O One, whose name may ring some bells. The 10-year-old, who is owned by Anthony Ward-Thomas and now trained by Freddie’s mother Jenny Gordon, amassed almost £111,000 in prize money under Rules when trained by Freddie’s father Chris Gordon.

    “Highway One O One is a good old boy, but we had been struggling with his wind and his form was deteriorating, so we thought we’d go pointing with him,” explained Chris. “It’s taken the pressure off the horse and it’s made a huge difference – they clocked the fastest winning time of the day.”

    Freddie, who has ridden horses on the Flat for his father and was due to have his first National Hunt ride under Rules as this issue went to press, didn’t take up riding until three-and-a-half years ago.

    “He was keen on football and didn’t want anything to do with horses. But he very much wants to be a jockey now – the only thing is he’s 6ft 1in – I dread to think how tall his father was!” joked Chris.

    Archie Wright and the ex-Gigginstown nine-year-old Desire De Joie scored victory in the mens’ open. This was the second win of Desire De Joie’s 20-race career.

    “We got him from Gordon Elliott at the end of last year – he’d pulled up in his final race with him and had a nasty cut on his back leg, so we’ve given him some time off, put him back together and he travelled well and was quick with his jumping today,” said Archie, who set up a drinks business in lockdown. “My father Nick owns this horse with my aunt Luly – my granny passed away last year, so Luly got on board with owning some horses to keep Granny’s colours going.”

    Finistere, who was an eight-race maiden for Dan Skelton, got off the mark in the maiden under James King for trainer-owner Julie Wadland and Janet Bird, with James also winning the Oriental Club owner-trainer conditions (level three) on Waterloo Warrior for Angela and Ian Slatter.

    Natalya Irvine and Blazing Tom won their sixth consecutive race for trainer Tom Ellis and her father Stephen Irvine when taking the ladies’ open.

    Ellie Callwood enjoyed a particularly successful weekend too, with a brace of victories (see below).

    A Special win

    Special Buddy. Megan Fox

    Special Buddy and Megan Fox

    Combined Services, Larkhill, Wiltshire

    Megan Fox continued her run of recent good form with victory in the maiden conditions aboard the 12-year-old Special Buddy, who is trained by Ben Pauling and owned by his wife Sophie. “Spud” hadn’t quite been able to win during his career under Rules.

    “He’s been pretty unlucky, to be fair,” explained Megan, 22, who works for Ben. “Everyone loves him on the yard and he was earmarked as Ben’s hunter, but then he suggested we have a go pointing with him first. I think he’ll run in a couple more races and then go and enjoy some hunting.”

    Thirteen-year-old Arcal Fifty added a second career victory to his name – the last coming four years ago – when taking the restricted under Martin McIntyre for trainer Bea Coward and The Barrow Street Racing Club.

    “He runs his race every time, and is very genuine, but he’s just been a bit unlucky,” explained Martin. “All credit to Bea for keeping him fresh and well – our aim with him now is to not have to wait four years for him to win another race!”

    The in-form Freddie Gingell added yet another winner in the form of Molineaux, who is owned and trained by Freddie’s grandfather Colin Tizzard, in the conditions (level two) novice riders, while Lucy Turner and Sixteen Letters won the ladies’ conditions (level two) in a closely fought battle.

    Sam Waley-Cohen and Maitree Express were first past the post in the mixed open, and Fred Henderson and the ex-Dan Skelton horse Frisson Collonges won the maiden by 20 lengths.

    I owe it to… Two very different horses

    Wounded Warrior

    Wounded Warrior

    Eighteen-year-old Ellie Callwood enjoyed a very successful weekend, picking up wins at Duncombe Park and Charing aboard Wounded Warrior and Precious Bounty respectively

    “It was a brilliant weekend and one I won’t forget,” said Ellie, who is in her second season working for Tom and Gina Ellis, but who previously enjoyed plenty of showing and showjumping. “My two horses, both owned by my mum Joanne and trained by Tom Ellis, are so different from one another, with one being big and slow and the other very small and compact, but have taught me so much.”

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