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Curre & Llangibby
Howick
Sunday 10th April 2011
by Brian Lee

Bridgend builder Roger Willcox was delighted when his nine-year-old bay gelding Ace High Blue, a former inmate of Evan Williams's yard, romped home an easy winner of division three of the open maiden race at the Curre & Llangibby Hunt Point-To-Point Steeplechases.

Roger,well known in hunt racing circles, said: "Owing to the firm ground I wasn't going to run him but I changed my mind and he did it well clocking the fastest time of the three maiden race winners''.

Ace High Blue, well ridden by Josh Harris, took up the running five fences from the finish to win by a distance from Nodanawink (Nathan Deakin).

Tachbury, like Ace High Blue, is qualified with the Llangeinor Hunt and took the first division under Pembrokeshire's Paul Tolman. This seven-year-old brown gelding is also an ex-Evan Williams trained horse and led at the last to beat Stainless Steel (Byron Moorcroft) by two-and-a-half lengths.

" It has taken me a long time to sort him out but he is enjoying life now.'' said Pencoed's Julie Williams who was tasting success as an owner/trainer for the first time. However, Julie, daughter of Gwyn 'Gunmetal Boy' Williams, is no stranger to horse racing having ridden more than 30 winners and one on the flat when she was based with Richard Alner.

Tachbury was the first leg of a double for Pembrokeshire's Paul Tolman who also took the second division on Brian Jones 's six year-old bay gelding Enter Milan which scored by three lengths from Cilrhiwron (John Mathias). Tolman, who also trains the horse, has saddled four winners from his last eight runners and is extending his yard with another six boxes.

Tolman's partner Jodie Hughes did well to win the restricted on Luke Price's course winner Fordinkum which won by seven lengths from Clover Rock. "He jumped a lot better this time.'' said Jodie who unfortunately was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital later in the day with a suspected broken collar bone after falling from the favourite WheresThePost in the race won by Enter Milan.

Rhys Jenkins's 14-year-old Strong Weld put in a bold and brave display of front running when landing the men's open race by three lengths from the French-bred Dreaux. Trained by Nicky Sheppard,Strong Weld clocked 5m 56s the same time as Chesnut Annie Took in winning the ladies' open.

In the AGA Ladies' Open Race, Beth Roberts' prolific Chesnut Annie, ridden for the first time by Sally Randell, took up the running approaching the eleventh fence and soon had her five rivals trailing in her wake and coming home a distance ahead of Kisha King (Anna Metekhoy).
Sally, who was deputising for the sidelined Isabel Tompsett, said: "That was absolutely amazing. I have never won on a horse so easily before and it's all down to Isabel who told me how to ride her.'' Chesnut Annie was chalking up her 26th win between-the-flags and she has also won two hunter chases. Wales' most famous point-to-pointer Mandryka won 38 ladies' open races-all with Shan Morgan aboard- five men's open races and a hunter chase.

In a match for the members' race, James Colthart's eleven-year-old Winter Star, finished
a length and a half in front of the odds-on Galtee View (Joseph Williams). Partnered by Jason 'Awesome' Cook, who was riding his first winner since making his
comeback earlier this season, Winter Star is trained by Josh Harris's younger sister Grace Harris who put the horse's improvement in form-he had been pulled up in his previous two starts- down to the firm going which she said he needs. She said: "He's like a bus at home ".

Keith Pritchard's Chandlers Cross, ridden by Ogmore's Nick Williams, made nearly all to land the Confined by three-and-a-half lengths from the favourite City Affair (Tom David).The pair had jumped the second last fence together but Chandlers Cross, who was winning for the fourth time for his owner, proved the stronger.

What they said:
Winter Fair: "He jumped like a buck.'' - Jason 'Awesome' Cook, rider.
Chandlers Cross: "I could have done with a bit of company.'' - Nick Williams, rider.
Fordinkum: "I had to give him a few smacks to keep him interested.'' - Jodie Hughes, rider.
Strong Weld: " I can't tell you how old I am but if you add my number of years to
Strong Weld's it comes to sixty.'' - Rhys Jenkins, rider.
Chesnut Annie: "Surenaga and Chesnut Annie are as different as chalk and cheese'' - Sally Randell, rider.
Tachbury: "He has a mind of his own.'' - Paul Tolman, rider.
Enter Milan: "He needs a good galloping track that's why we brought him here.'' - Paul Tolman, rider.
Ace High Blue: "Get the facts right this time. My first name is Roger not Richard and
I'm a Bridgend builder not a Bridgend hair-dresser!" - Roger Willcox, owner.

Starting Prices
Members: Winter Star (Jason Cook) 7-4
Confined: Chandlers Cross (Nick Williams) 7-4
Restricted: Fordinkham (Jodie Hughes) 2-1 fav
Men's Open: Strong Weld (Rhys Jenkins) 6-4 fav
Ladies' Open: Chesnut Annie (Sally Randell) 1-4 fav
Maiden 1: Tachbury (Paul Tolman) 2-7 fav
Maiden 2: Enter Milan (Paul Tolman) 9-2
Maiden 3: Ace High Blue (Josh Harris) 2-1 fav.

The Ystrad Taf Fechan Point-To-Point Steeplechases take place at Ystradowen near Cowbridge on Saturday (first race 2.p.m) and the feature race is the John Lovell Memorial Men's Open Race.

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