A Double to See Out 2018!
On Sunday 30th December the team headed back to Cottenham with our last runners of the year and our fingers crossed. 5 horses, 4 jockeys, 3 favourites, 1 trainer...how many winners?! The first runner to represent Woodway was hot favourite Hawkhurst in the Conditions race under Gina Andrews. With a 75% strike rate there is plenty of pressure when this horse runs, but that doesn't phase the current Lady Champion Jockey. Hawk jumped off and settled amongst the10 runners, not taking to the lead too early. His jumping was brilliant and took up the lead at 3 out going on to win a hard-held 7 lengths! This continues the 100% strike rate for him this season and of course all connections were delighted, especially his owner Keith Loads.
Next up was Restricted runner Captiva Island who was back to defend his maiden win here 4 week previous. Starting as 4/5 favourite with Jack Andrews on board the trainer was hopeful, however the gelding didn't jump as well as he had on his last run and also losing a shoe whilst slipping on approach to the second fence. He didn't let this affect him and got into the 8 runner race on the final circuit before taking up the lead heading to the last. Looking the winner approaching the finish line before just being caught and beaten 1 length. A ballsy performance from the five year old, proving he will try even when things are not going his way!
The third runner of the day was Broken Eagle in the Mens Open with James King riding. The ground wasn't perfect for him and Eagle is known to throw a strop if things don't go his way! He travelled well throughout, with Mr Mix taking him on at most opportunities, before fading at the penultimate fence and looking well beat. However, he dug a little deeper to stay on to finish 3rd, beaten 12 lengths, on ground that would be too soft for him. Connections were pleased to see he didn't spit the dummy out and we will look for another race soon as he's feeling well at home!
Our penultimate runner of the day was Novice Riders' runner Ballybough Gorta under our novice rider Charlie Case for the first time. This shaped up to be a very hot 10 runner race, so our main aim was for Charlie to get some more experience in his 3rd season. Charlie jumped the gelding off, sitting with the leaders for the first circuit and jumping superbly before struggling to stay with them upon quickening. He stayed on well to finish 6th, giving Charlie a great first point-to-point ride of the season.
Our final runner was the previously successful and back to his best Sharp Suit in a competitive Ladies Open with Gina on board. He jumped off favourite and sat rivalling the leaders, setting a good pace and jumping impressively on ground softer than he would like. Heading out for the second circuit Red Spinner took up the lead before depositing his jockey at the penultimate fence, with Sharp Suit applying the pressure. He then went on to wing the last and win by 10 lengths! It was great for the little horse to back up his win here at the start of the month and always fantastic to get a win for loyal owner Rodney Mann.
Izzie Marshall rode her home-trained Frampton in the Ladies, finishing a brilliant 3rd, after an autumn of team-chasing & hunting. It was a great day with a double, 2nd, 3rd and 6th and most importantly all horses & jockeys coming home safely! 2018 was a successful year for the point-to-point yard but without the hard work of the team we wouldn't have been able to achieve these results! After a winter of carrying multiple buckets of water across both yards thanks to frozen taps for days on end, we were hit with the hottest summer in over 40 years (which was much more welcome!) with physical cracks appearing in the ground!
With a 45% strike rate to kick of the new season we are hopeful 2019 will be just as successful! Thank you to our owners, staff, jockeys and horses for keeping the dream alive!