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Review of the 2004 West Midlands Season
by Peter Mansell

2004 POINT TO POINT JOCKEYS CHAMPIONSHIP
IS IT A UNIQUE EVENT AND IS IT GOOD FOR THE SPORT?

A few years ago, the suggestion that a jockey could ride over 50 winners in a season and not win the Championship would probably have been dismissed as pure fantasy, but that is exactly what has happened during the 2004 campaign.
With three meetings remaining Ashley Farrant leads Richard Burton by two and both these jockeys have ridden almost double the number of winners of the rider in third place - which poses the question is that good for the sport or is it just a one off event?
This is David Pipe's last season in the sport so by implication it can be argued that Ashley Farrant will find it more difficult to succeed again in the future. It has been stated elsewhere that Richard Burton has reached his current total, while two of his main supporting stables Sheila Crow and Pam Sykes have not been at their strongest.

Good luck to both of them and may the best man win.

CAUGHT AT DAWN - THE BEST HORSE IN THE WEST MIDLANDS?
Pete Mansell looks back over the 2004 season

The 2004 season finishes with the Governments position on Hunting Legislation still unclear, but what is evident from the past six months is that OUR sport continues to go from strength to strength.
Racing in West Midlands has enjoyed a high profile over the years with Alison Dare winning six Ladies Championships while Ledbury's Julian Pritchard picked up three Mens Titles. He is currently in second place in the list of the sports all time winning riders – a total he must surely surpass next year while Berkeley's Polly Gundry has just won the Ladies Championship for a record breaking fifth time in succession.
Despite these feats, the exploits of the riders has been overshadowed somewhat by their equine counterparts in 2004. Listed below at the names of ten horses, who in the opinion of this correspondent, have helped raised the profile of the sport in the West Midland Area.

10TH PLACE - THE CAMPDONIAN
Owned by John Robbins. Trained by Lucy King at Weston Sub Edge

This ex-chaser was fortunate to win his first race of the season at Chaddesley when he was left clear by the departure of William Lionheart at the penultimate. He was never out of the frame in eight races afterwards although he did unseated his rider in a Stratford Hunter Chase. Most of his placed efforts were within the area and this was sufficient for him to land the West Midland Area Leading Horse Award for his sporting connections.

9TH PLACE - WILLIAM LIONHEART
Owned by Nick Cook. Trained by Dick Baimbridge at Berkeley
Appeared to stumble after the penultimate when well clear of The Campdonian at Chaddesley and may have been suffering the effects of that fall, although it was no disgrace to finish runner up to Christy Beamish at the Ledbury. Went from strength to strength thereafter and landed two wins at Paxford and Woodford. Seems to go on any ground and maintains a good gallop throughout.

8TH PLACE - TEME WILLOW
Owned by Stan Warner. Trained by Dick Baimbridge at Berkeley

Despite his advancing years, he continued to show top form and although surprisingly beaten in a three horse race at Maisemore bounced back to top form against some useful rivals at Bredwardine. Even the wizard of Berkeley has been unable to correct his tendency to jump right but still a force to be reckoned with.

7TH PLACE - WELL TED
Owned by Graham Fisher and Maurice Seabourne. Trained by Dick Baimbridge at Berkeley

Won twice and placed twice from four outings. Would possibly have won on his seasonal debut at Brampton Bryan but rooted the third from home, which ended his chances and also finished third at Woodford where Gary Hanmer took the ride. Scored two wins at Paxford and Dingley and another tribute to the training skills of Baimbridge.

6TH PLACE - FATHER TOM
Owned by Herbie Sharpe and Roger Liddington. Trained by Dick Baimbridge at Berkeley
Looked overated after early season falls at Whitwick and Maisemore. Transformed by a change of tactics that are brilliantly executed by Julian Pritchard and this combination won four races in succession including the Welsh Border Area Confined Championship. Placed to perfection by his trainer further successes should come their way in 2005.

5TH PLACE - SUPREME CITIZEN
Owned and trained by Diana Williams at Enville

The Williams stable has really come to the public's attention over the last two or three years and they enjoyed another successful season. Supreme Citizen carried on from where he left off last year winning three races and striking up a good partnership with Jane Williams. Blotted his copybook when unseating his rider at Brampton Bryan, but sure to regain the winning thread again next year.

4TH PLACE - CHRISTY BEAMISH
Owned by Michael Mann. Trained by Paul Jones at Patshull

Had two outings in 2003 and another two the following season and has a 75% strike rate winning three of his four outings. Has always been highly thought off and created a favourable impression and gave a faultless display when beating the aforementioned William Lionheart at Maisemore. It may not be wise to read too much into his subsequent absence and should continue his upward progression during 2005.

3RD PLACE - UPTON ADVENTURE
Owned by Peter Corbett. Trained by Nicky Sheppard at Eastnor

The winner of eight of her ten races in 2004, which earned Corbett's home bred mare the T.B.A. Mares Trophy. With two weeks of the season remaining she is still in the lead for the Horse and Hound Trophy for the horse winning the most races during the 2004 campaign. Her performances cannot be faulted but they also have to be put in context and her time at the Worcestershire was 2 second slower than Caught at Dawn who was carrying significantly more weight.

2ND PLACE - BALINOVA
Owned and trained by Clive Bennett at Dymock

Finished second to the highly rated Ask the Natives in a Ladies race at Buckfastleigh before scoring facile wins against modest rivals at Maisemore and Paxford. Ran a gallant race in defeat before going down by three quarters of a length when trying to concede 7lbs to Caught at Dawn in a Cheltenham Hunter Chase, which on the form book makes his superior to the winner. Looks destined for top honours next year.

1ST PLACE - CAUGHT AT DAWN
Owned and trained by Martin Weston at Hindlip

Nobody could or did predict the significent improvement in Caught at Dawns performances during 2004. Pulled up on his seasonal debut at Weston Park, he then ran up a sequence of six straight wins, which culminated in victory in the prestigious Lady Dudley Cup and this was closely followed by a Hunter Chase success at Prestbury Park against Balinova. Injury prevented him contesting the John Corbett Cup at Stratford but there is every reason to believe that he would have gone close in that contest.

IT WAS A GOOD SEASON FOR…

ALISON DARE
who scored her first training success when Machalini won at Didmarton and she added two more victories to her tally after Babs Wheal won at Upton on Severn and Machalini doubled up at Cothelstone.

TIM STEPHENSON
Started the season with a number of newcomers in his Castlemorton yard but the stable did better than predicted and enjoyed several successes and numerous placed efforts and must have been pleased when their home bred Wind on the Common won two races.

TERESSA MCCURRICH
Despite a slow start to the campaign the Chaddesley Corbett trainer finished the season with a flourish which included an end of season hatrick for Sovereign Gale including the Mares Championship at Garthorpe.

EMMA BAKER
This stable's motto should be "if at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again" and that exactly what they did with Jolly Jake. He started off 2004 by continuing his run of placed efforts but finally got his head in front at Upper Sapey. Given his past record he will struggle to make his mark at the next grade.

BELINDA SPAREY - BEST OF TASTE CATERING AWARDS
In conjunction with the West Midlands P.P.S.A. instigated a Novice Riders Award at each area meeting. Some of the recipients of these awards obviously have more ability than others and are already destined for higher honours, but it has been evident at each award that these prizes are warmly appreciated.

IT WAS A BAD SEASON FOR…

JULIAN PRITCHARD
who for the first time in his 18-year race riding career suffered a couple of bone crunching falls in mid season which left him sidelined for the several weeks. He may not have the firepower to match Farrant and Burton in the Championship race but with luck will surely become the sports Leading Point to Point ride during 2005 next year.

JELLY NOLAN
who had to wait until the final weeks of the season to taste success when Mounthenry Star won at Larkhill. The Naunton trainer can normally expect to send out about 10 winners a season but the dice have not fallen kindly this year, but expect better things during 2005.

THE AREA AWARDS WILL BE PRESENTED AT THE WEST MIDLAND AREA DINNER DANCE AT CHELTENHAM RACECOURSE ON FRIDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER.

TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE FROM:

PAULINE WALLIS - 01886 880355

JULIAN PRITCHARD - 01531 634461

ROBERT KILLEN - 01454 261764 

Don't forget the new season starts in the first week of January 2005. It's six months away but a stable preview from the West Midlands Area should be available sometime during December 2004.

 

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