Alan Reaches 300th Winner Milestone on Home Ground and Yard Favourite Ravethebrave Retires!
Updated: Jun 7, 2018
Another busy weekend approached with the second bank holiday weekend of the month looming. We sent out seven runners at three different meetings, one of which was the final one of the season at our local course Kingston Blount. We were hopeful of some good results, with some fit and classy horses running, and little did we know that it would yet again be a weekend with 100% of our runners finishing in the first four!
First to run of the weekend was quirky Sharp Suit running under a gentleman rider for the first time in four years. James King jumped the gelding out in the four runner Timico Mixed Open at Larkhill and got him traveling nicely alongside the joint-favourite. The fast ground and right handed course were thought to be in favour of the gelding before useful horse Boygojumping came past and went on in the final stages. Sharp Suit held second place before unfortunately Boygojumping was pulled up quickly following the final fence. Our horse then went on to win the race, but it was such a shame to do so in this way and our thoughts are with the connections.
Images kindly provided by Jeff Welch Photography
"It was great to have my first ride and winner for Alan on Saturday albeit in unfortunate circumstances. Sharp Suit travelled and jumped well on ground which was probably quicker than ideal. With it being only his second run of the season it was great to get his head in front and hopefully he can do the same again before the season is out" James King
We also had three runners at Dingley on Saturday. According To Trev ran in the Conditions race under Izzie Marshall who unfortunately didn't show the same zest he possessed at Peper Harow on his previous outing, never really getting into the race. Izzie gave him a determined ride and he ran on very well to finish 3rd.
"Trev jumped excellently the whole race and despite coming into contact with a loose running rail he stayed on well to finish strongly for 3rd" Izzie Marshall
Our next runner was stable star Ravethebrave in the Ladies Open also under Izzie Marshall. He jumped off evens favourite, racing keenly as usual before making a bad mistake in the final stages, doing well to stay standing. He ran on very gamely, giving his all as he always does, to finish 2nd. It was always decided that this was his last season and after two wins, a 2nd and 3rd from his four runs this season the team felt this was the right time for him to retire at 14 years of age. Bought as a schoolmaster for Joe in 2011, Rave has become the family pet. Winning his first outing on Joe's debut race ride and aiding him to win the Wilkinson Sword and National Novice title in his first season riding, Rave kept up an incredible record winning at least once in six of the seven seasons we ran him. He also won under Joe in his first ride in a Hunter Chase at Fakenham and gave him two spins around Cheltenham, one being in the Foxhunters. He taught Joe the ropes and more, as well as being the perfect lead horse out hunting and giving Lawney a Charity Race victory this season! Of his 31 runs pointing, he came out on top 13 times, finished 2nd 11 times and was placed another four times, giving him a placed strike rate of 90%! Rave will now enjoy a summer in the field before hopefully many seasons out hunting!
Our final runner at Dingley was maiden Desert Retreat under Gina Ellis who travelled well and warmed to the task in a held up position. Jumping off as favourite of the 10 runner field we were hopeful of a big run from the gelding which looked promising when Gina was moving towards lead position heading to the penultimate fence. However hindrance wasn't far away when a jockey abruptly pulled up a runner sat in front and some loose horses presented a problem, causing our runner to lose 15 lengths. Despite this he ran on gamely to be beaten by less than three lengths to gain 3rd place. This horse has been unlucky this season, with this race no exception. He will run this weekend and we cross our fingers for some luck!
On Sunday we headed to our local course with three runners at the Berks & Bucks Draghounds annual meeting. Our first runner of the day was game mare Allie Beag bidding for her Intermediate victory in the 8 runner affair. After a lot of work on her back and a five week break between races to focus on getting her 100% the mare looked confident and ready to run a big race. She travelled well and jumped brilliantly which was great to see and put in an excellent performance to gain 2nd place well clear of any rival. Allie will now have a break over summer which she will benefit from no end and has done the yard and her owners, Ian Cobbald and Alan, proud having not finished outside the first three this season!
The next runner to represent Woodway was useful For 'N' Against in the six runner competitive mixed open, with all horses in with a chance. The gelding was carrying at least 5lb more than any competitor - but he didn't know that! Alan's directions to Izzie were to jump and sit, allowing the horse to enjoy himself and feel no pressure, which is exactly what she did. Coming down the hill Alan's gelding appeared to have plenty of running in him, but Izzie didn't panic and sat still allowing him to pop away along the back straight and taking up 2nd at the penultimate fence. The combination then went to take on the favourite, useful pointer Namako, which they did with ease, flying the final fence and pulling away to win easily by 4 lengths. This was a fantastic result and a great run from the horse, who took a while to warm up this season but has really come into his own this spring. This was Alan's 300th training victory which is a huge achievement and all at Woodway are immensely proud of the boss's success!
Images kindly provided by Chasdog Photography and Gary Garner
"Dave out jumped his rivals down the back straight to gain 2nd position easily. I tracked the odds on favourite trained by Philip Rowley and pushed the button coming round the last bend. Dave winged the final fence and won by 4 lengths going away. He was absolutely awesome and confirmed his recent good form. It was brilliant to ride Alan's 300th winner and a day I will never forget!" Izzie Marshall
Our final runner of the weekend was maiden Breakdown Cover under Jack Andrews. This gelding’s primary concern is his lacking confidence so the main instructions were to aid him and pop away without being too crowded. Jack did a great job at filling him with confidence and got him jumping nicely at the rear of the field. A patient ride from Jack when coming down the hill allowed the horse to jump into the race and he made a move round the last bend before coming into some traffic problems with two other runners. He ran on to finish a creditable 4th and it was great to see the gelding’s confidence grow, as well as gain another number in his form! Hopefully he will run again before the end of the season.
On bank holiday Monday we had Hawkhurst entered at Chaddesley Corbett but when we got there we felt the ground was a little too firm for the useful gelding who hasn’t been out of the first two this season so he did not run. He will now go out for summer and reflect on what a star he has been this season!
13 seasons ago Alan took over from Lawney training the point-to-point yard when she took out her licence to train under rules. He started with a dozen horses in training, which he has now more than doubled, with the introduction of new owners whilst maintaining solid relationships with those who have owned horses here for over two decades. The yard has also physically expanded, with an American barn converted to 18 stables and solely occupied by the point-to-pointers. Over this training period Alan has trained 7 Cheltenham winners; a training double occurring on two separate occasions and two 2nds in the prestigious Foxhunter Chase. He won the John Corbett Cup at Stratford with Harbour Court in 2013 and has trained three runners in the Aintree Foxhunters Chase over the Grand National fences. Alan has built an impressive winning strike rate of 33% and a 67% chance of a placing pointing; an astronomical feat which was appreciated when crowned National Champion Trainer in 2014. However, Alan also possess training versatility, scoring with a broad spectrum of horses such as Bon Accord winning his maiden first time out by 12 lengths in 2006, to Consigliere winning his concluding race over 4 miles at the age of 15 this season. Alan is also known for his unique skill of producing maidens who not only win in their first season but then go on to score and become classy and competitive open and hunter chase horses, such as Harbour Court. We believe a huge benefit to our success is the ability to train the point-to-point and National Hunt yards alongside each other; young horses who score promising victories are moved into Lawney's yard to run under rules whilst older horses who reach their handicap mark can drop back to the pointing scene for a less competitive job. However, this success cannot be pinpointed on one individual; it wouldn't be possible without the devoted and determined team at Woodway constantly striving to meet high standards whilst thoroughly enjoying forming close partnerships with our horses. Alan is also lucky enough to be in the position to use some of the best jockeys in the country having legged up Dale Peters, James King, Johnny Bailey and Gina Ellis just this season, to name just a few. James Tudor rode for Alan for 10 seasons and scored between the flags for him a total of 99 times! Son Joe Hill has won on horses trained by Alan 78 times and Gina Ellis' total is in the 50s. To be able to ensure this talent is in the saddle is not only advantageous to the horse's run but also increases the insight which fine tune tactics for future races. Alan is also lucky enough to be in the position of training some owner ridden horses, the true essence of point-to-pointing, with talented and eager-to-learn individuals making his job easy. Izzie Marshall was crowned joint National Novice Champion Jockey last season and has come out all guns blazing this season, forming a placed (1st - 3rd) strike rate of 78% on Alan's horses; phenomenal.
Despite the end of the season approaching and summer around the corner, with Alan sat in 2nd in the national title just 5 wins behind prolific Philip Rowley there is no time to relax and Alan's determination and hunger for success is as ripe as ever! With horses like Hawkhurst, who has won 5 times and 2nd the other two of his seven runs this season, coming through there's no sign of team Woodway slowing down anytime soon! Well done Big Al, all at Woodway, including the dogs, are extremely proud of your amazing achievement!