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Heythrop Hunt Club at Cocklebarrow
Sunday 29th January 2017
by Russell Smith

A LATE decision to run Supreme Danehill in the Harrison, James & Hardie Lord Ashton Of Hyde's Cup Mens Open Race paid handsome dividends for the Aston Rowant father-and-son team of Alan and Joe Hill.

The nine-year-old was bought by Betfair last season as part of Victoria Pendleton's "Swapping Saddles" project.

And it was only after the gelding had impressed in a schooling session under the dual Olympic cycling champion on Saturday that he was given the go-ahead to tackle the first of the sport's four "classics" by owner-trainer Alan Hill.

With Joe on board, the 6-4 favourite made virtually all the running in the extended three-mile-and-six-furlong contest, before bounding home six lengths clear of Thanks For Coming, with Roi De Garde ten lengths back in third.

Minutes after returning to the winner's enclosure, Joe was on the phone to his father at Higham, who relayed news to him that the rider's girlfriend, Izzie Marshall, had won on Start Royal for the yard.

"It is brilliant - two winners," said Joe. "It was only 8 o'clock this morning that we decided to come. Victoria schooled him yesterday and he jumped fantastically. She has got him ready for me to win today. I have never ridden in it before, but it means a lot to win a classic."

With her husband elsewhere, it was left to Lawney Hill to pick up the owner's and trainer's prizes. "It is all very exciting," she said. "I am an old Heythrop girl and used to live about five miles away. I have never been here before because I am usually going to Higham or Fontwell or Uttoxeter. It is a real pleasure to see so many friendly faces. I used to be in the pony club with Charlie Brooks (Heythrop Hunt Club chairman)."

Mary Vestey was all smiles after Silver Roque gave her a winner with her first runner when taking a classy renewal of the Wurzel High Speed Broadband PPORA Club Members Race For Novice Riders. Under a positive ride from Henry Morshead, the 3-1 shot stormed home by ten lengths from evens favourite Olofi in the two-and-a-half-mile contest, with Kashmir Peak two lengths back in third.

Vestey, who trains the 11-year-old out of Ed Cookson's parents' farm at Upper Slaughter, near Bourton-on-the-Water, said: "I am assistant to Ben (Pauling) and it has always been my dream to train racehorses. "It's special to have a winner for dad (Lord Vestey) and at my local track. He hadn't won since 2013. He went off the boil a bit and went sour, and it's nice to see him back to his old ways."

Howard Pauling, Ben's father, notched his first winner for "many years" when En Passe made virtually all of the running to triumph in the Tanners Intermediate Race. Plans to hold up the eight-year-old were quickly abandoned by jockey Tom David after a flying leap at the first took her to the head of affairs, and she maintained a strong gallop to deny Kristian Gray by two lengths.

Pauling, who is based at Chadlington, near Chipping Norton, said: "She is a mare that I had out of Charlie Longsdon's yard last year.
"I ride her out and obviously have use of the facilities of the boys. I used to ride in the 70s and 80s and Ben used to ride in point-to-points, but I have not really trained point-to-pointers for six to eight years. My last winner was Tom Putt at Whitwick many years ago."

David added: "The last time I rode her I was second on her at Brewardine, and I didn't want to hit the front too soon and get collared, but she winged the first and I didn't want to dishearten her."

Stow-on-the-Wold trainer Christy Mews opened her account for the season when Ivy Gate stayed on strongly to claim the Skinner's Pet Foods Ladies Open Race. Allie Stirling sent the nine-year-old for home approaching the third-last in the three-and-a-half-mile event, before going on to pass the post two and a half lengths ahead of Sybarite, with Vasco Du Mee taking the minor honours.

Mews reported: "Phil Middleton bought him out of a seller at Wetherby out of Jonjo O'Neill's, and Phil is just having a holiday from training and we have got him to run in point-to-points and see what he is like. He is so laid back at home and is a gem to deal with. Today was about learning about him. I thought he would run well."

Mews had saddled favourite Born To Succeed in the opening Lycetts Insurance Six-Year-Olds And Over Open Maiden Race, but her charge was five lengths down and held in second behind Passage East when unseating Leo Mahon at the last. That left the Sam Jukes-ridden seven-year-old grey to come home 25 lengths clear of Priest Island - the only other runner of the 13 starters to finish.

Dymock trainer Emma Alvis was at Chipley Park in Devon, while owner Clive Bennett was at the Ballyvodock meeting in Ireland, but his son, Will, said: "My old man was in tears on the phone. He is over the moon. Passage East ran really well last time and we knew he would stay that trip."

The Light House Designs Four, Five And Six-Year-Olds Open Maiden over two and a half miles went to Mickey Bowen's Welsh raider The Shop Brien, who was left clear when Dissertation crashed out at the last fence under Bradley Roberts. The pair were locked together at the time and Jodie Hughes, whose mount came home six lengths clear of Miss Macarno, said: "I thought it was do or die. I knew he had had a few runs and hoped that with that experience it would get him over the last and with my determination as well it would get us home."

The six-year-old was bought for £4,000 at the Goffs UK Sales at Doncaster in May out of Denis Murphy's Ballyboy Stables in County Wexford, and Haverfordwest handler Bowen added: "Last week (at Black Forest Lodge) he was going well when he fell."

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