It was a weekend of novice victories with both Noah Brazg and Sam Burton gaining their first wins of the season, in exceptional style! We had 6 runners over the weekend, at 3 different meetings and all under a different jockey! It was great to get horses back on the track after this prolonged winter and many abandonment's in previous weeks!
On Saturday 7th April we headed to one of our most successful courses, Higham, with 4 runners. The highlight of the day was novice owner/rider Noah Brazg gaining his first career win! Noah and Ballybough Gorta ran in the 16 runner novice riders race, which around Higham could be compared to a cavalry charge with plenty of chaos possible at any point! We knew the horse would love the ground, which we have been waiting so patiently for; he last ran on 31st December! Noah rode to instructions perfectly, popping out and going down the inner to stay out of trouble and have more room. The horse jumped incredibly well, sat in 3rd tracking the two leaders running a little free, heading down the back straight. It looked as though the horse may fade at one point but Noah got down and put his pony racing experience to practice, pushing out the gelding who galloped to the line and gained the win by 4 lengths. As Noah’s first point to point win this was a memorable day, and great to do so in front of a “home crowd”! Well done Noah and Gerry!
Gerry travelled brilliantly throughout the race despite the fast pace and was always where I wanted him to be. He jumped boldly which helped him gain ground throughout and enabled me to give him a breather down the back straight before we turned in. When we turned for home he quickened well on the ground and stuck his head down all the way to the line. It was great to get a winner for Alan as he has really helped and supported me with my riding this season” Noah
Winning celebrations! Images kindly provided by Michael Harris.
Also to run was Daniel Cherriman on his horse Stage One in the Restricted. It was a competitive 12 runner race, but Dan didn't let that phase him. The gelding jumped brilliantly and travelled well throughout, just looking a little outpaced approaching 4 out. When the runners bypassed 2 out he was sat in 7th, but he ran on strongly and finished a creditable 4th by 8 lengths. In reflection the trainer states that having to miss the penultimate fence probably was not advantageous as the horse's jumping was a class above the rest. Connections were very pleased and will look for a race on a stiffer track next time out.
Our next runner was hot favourite and course specialist Broken Eagle, under Johnny Bailey in the mixed open. Unfortunately disaster struck almost before the race began, with the gelding (at a starting price of 1/5 fav) being brought down at the first fence by an opponent. The whole team were gutted, none more than Johnny, as this was his last race before retirement. The disappointment is huge as we have been very patient waiting for the optimum ground and race for the gelding. Eagle has come home with some bumps and bruises but we will rebuild and get him back to perfect condition before his next outing.
Broken Eagle (green sleeves, yellow cap) brought down at the first fence.
Sequence kindly provided by Craig Woolnough
Last to represent Woodway at Higham was old favourite and veteran Start Royal. It was another large field in the conditions race with 16 runners and some useful horses. The 14 year old has a great record round Higham having run there for over 9 years! Alan told Izzie to pop out to get light, which she did and gained a great position, sat in the lead with one other. His jumping was great and she was headed at the ditch the second time, at which he looked like he could be well beat, but with full marks to horse and jockey they really stuck their heads out and were just nabbed for 4th in the last few strides. It was a great effort and all connections were very pleased with the loyal little horse’s efforts. He wore cheek-pieces for the first time which showed to be advantageous so we will hopefully find a winning opportunity for this duo before the end of the season!
On Sunday we had two runners at different courses. Promising mare Allie Beag ran at Badbury Rings in the intermediate. It was a competitive 13 runner race, with plenty of runners having a good chance. Jack Andrews was on board and gave the mare a great ride, following instruction to a T. Jack jumped off and sat on the rail with plenty of light. Allie jumped well but when heading out to the country on the final circuit she was hampered badly on the bend, losing her position a little, in which Jack had to use a bit of petrol to regain her spot in the race. At the fifth last it looked as though the mare may struggle but she stayed on gamely, gaining 3rd place; very pleasing result in such a high standard intermediate. The trainer was very happy to see the result of the wind op the mare underwent apparent in her runs this season, as she is running to the line with much more ease than last season.
Also running on Sunday was hot favourite and auspicious gelding Hawkhurst, in the novice and veteran riders race at Barbury Castle. Yard novice jockey Sam Burton was on board; Sam has done a lot of work on this unique gelding who requires individual training. Hawk and talented rival Tempelpirate duelled for favouritism, with the Woodway representative eventually starting at the 6/4 favourite. Sam jumped off and sat in a handy position; with some strong galloping types in the race we didn’t want to get out of our ground, and we know the gelding has speed to his advantage. Coming through the crowd after a circuit the horse was almost caught a little flat-footed but his magnificent jumping was an asset that kept him in the race. Along the back straight final time Hawk and Tempelpirate pulled clear of the field and were stride for stride; a great spectacle for the crowd to see two talented horses go at such speed jumping alongside each other! As they came down the hill Sam was able to ask for another effort, and the gelding drew away and won by 12 lengths. It was a great race and Sam gave the horse a sensible ride, following instruction, with the distance also favouring him. The race was a fair test so it’s great to see the horse coming on through the season as we have hoped and to get Sam off the mark!
"I found it rather extraordinary to be sat on such a classy horse...but I soon got used to it! He was very impressive, travelled well and I felt he jumped amazingly. When I asked, he found and quickened away with ease. I'm very privileged to have got the ride!"
Click here to see footage of Hawkhurst and Sam Burton clearing the last in style heading for victory!
Overall it was a very successful weekend, and great to get both of the novice boys off the mark. The horses ran very well and tried hard, which is all we can ask. Now it's just a matter of doing a sun-dance and crossing our fingers that spring may finally be around the corner?!