Last weekend we had a total of 10 horses running in 9 different races, with 7 different jockeys on board, at 2 race meetings, all resulting in 7 top 4 placings with 1 winner - Alan's 250th as a point-to-point trainer!
The weekend saw the opening meeting at our "home" course, Kingston Blount. Alan works tirelessly on the course, building obstacles, laying out runways and tending to the ground, which was a massive feat with the previous fortnight's weather. We looked forward to the day, with 4 runners at which always turns out to be a hot day of racing with a competitive card. First to run was season debutante Change Of Luck in the Club Members Conditions race, with Gina Andrews on board. This race was up in grade, but unfortunately the ground wasn't to his liking and the gelding ran a disappointing race. He gained a better result in the last mile, running on well and coming 4th, but we will look for better ground for his next run.
Gina and Change Of Luck head to the start
Jumping the last with a circuit to go
Next to run was The Glebe House Racing Club's Court Dismissed under lady jockey Izzie Marshall. Following his slightly disappointing run last time out at Charing, the tactics were altered and the gelding improved greatly for jumping off and making the running. The pair seemed in contention approaching the hill on the final circuit before disaster struck and the saddle slipped, giving Izzie no choice but to pull up. This was a great shame as Izzie felt the horse was giving her a great ride and in with a chance. We will aim for another ladies race and stick to the front running tactics as it suited so well.
Izzie and Court Dismissed taking up the running with a circuit to go
Finally we had two runners in the Mens Open; Supreme Danehill under our novice rider Sam Burton and Brian's Well with Noah Brazg aboard. The ground was very tiring by this stage, with only two finishers in this race. Supreme Danehill ran a lifeless race, not proving his solid form from last season. This has left us confused and back to the drawing board with him. Brian's Well gave novice jockey Noah a great ride, jumping well and keeping competitive until he tired 2 out and was very sensibly pulled up before the last.
Groom Hattie and Supreme Danehill in the paddock
Sam Burton and Supreme Danehill jump the last with a circuit to go
Brian's Well (green & white) showing his great jumping abilities
Lawney Hill Racing also sponsored the restricted race at the meeting, and she was very pleased to award the prize to Michael Kehoe for Keel Over's impressive win under Johnny Bailey, who is currently riding out at Woodway and has been a great help since Joe sustained an injury. Overall it was a good day of safe racing at Kingston Blount, with a couple of placings gained. We look forward to the 3 forthcoming meetings!
The following day we went to Ampton with 6 runners in consecutive races. First up was Hawkhurst in the Conditions race for Keith Loads, jumping off as favourite at a price of 1/3 (no pressure!). Gina Andrews was aboard the sensitive gelding. It was a slow run race which caused him to pull harder than what is ideal, but when he was asked a question at 2 out he easily put the race to bed. Hopefully the horse will continue to display form like this in the future, after a promising start to the season. As Alan's 250th point-to-point training victory it was extra special, reflecting his and the team's hard work over the years, and achieving a great success in under 13 seasons of training.
Hawkhurst and Gina romp home to victory
In the next race we had Allie Beag with Johnny Bailey on board in the Intermediate. The mare won her restricted at this course so we were hopeful for a good run from her, despite the testing ground. She ran a very game race in defeat, but she disliked the heavy ground at the bottom end of the course. She ran on well to be beaten for 2nd by a neck, and we're confident that we will see a better horse on better ground.
Allie Beag and Johnny at the start
In the following race was competitive Man Of Steel running for owners Toby Hunt, Andy Dickins and Alan in the Ladies Open, with Izzie Marshall riding. The gelding ran in a ladies to freshen him up and he was sat in contention when a bad jump after a circuit caused the saddle to slip, forcing the jockey to pull up. A nightmare for poor Izzie and team!
Next up was seasoned pro Consigliere in the Mens Open. Johnny took the reins on the veteran in the 4 runner race. It was a great display from the game gelding, who presented the definition of defiance at the age of 15, finishing a creditable 2nd by two lengths to a young up and coming horse in Midnight Cowboy. As ever the team were thrilled with the yard favourite's performance.
Consigliere not looking a day over 5!
Our penultimate runner was in the Restricted race; Stage One under owner rider and Pytchely Huntsman Daniel Cherriman, having his first run for the yard. It was the jockey's first ride of the season, and he did a good job of settling him on ground that was a bit too soft for the gelding. He ran on to gain a very pleasing 2nd place and we're looking forward to the rest of the season with him!
Dan and Stage One on their season debut
Our final runner of the day was another owner rider; Gareth Henderson on maiden Desert Retreat. This horse has been showing some great form in his recent couple of runs, however he didn't translate that on this outing. The horse jumped right throughout the race, and not as his best, not helping Gareth. He ran on to finish 3rd but will require a more polished show of jumping to gain victory.
Gareth and Desert Retreat looking at the first before the race
Overall it was a very busy weekend, of which we could not have done without our fantastic team, both home and at the races. It's great to have the first Kingston Blount meeting under our belt, and to have managed to go ahead after the untimely snow - we are more than ready for spring! Our horses tend to run well at Ampton, which always keeps us returning, and it was great to come back with 5 placings from 6 runners. Reaching the milestone of 250 point-to-point winners is no mean feat, and we look forward to working towards that 300 landmark!