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SATURDAY 2 MARCH 2002
by Pete Mansell
National Hunt Festival is looming on the horizon but Simon Claisse was
able to take advantage of the lull before the storm and saddle Lead
Vocalist for the Mixed Open during Saturdays Duke of Beaufort's meeting at
commitments prevented partner and co-trainer Lucy Brack from fulfilling
the vital task of getting the horse to the racecourse, so Cheltenham's
popular Clerk of the Course was demoted from his normal high profile
duties to the more mundane task of transporting Lead Vocalist from their
base at Eastleach Martin.
Hutsby, who had literally been engaged at the 11th hour, sent
the 13-year-old up to dispute the lead at the 13th and this
combination had gone 4 lengths clear of their rivals on the run to the
penultimate. A difference of opinion between horse and jockey at the last
left the window open for their closest pursuers but the winner kept
responding to every question that Hutsby asked of him and they were one
and a half lengths clear of the favourite Shobrooke Mill at the post.
is not often that you see the colours of a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner
carried to success in a Point to Point but this unusual occurrence
happened after War Paint had stormed to victory in Division III of the
8-year-old and upwards Maiden, wearing the orange and black silks
associated with the 1991 winner Garrison Savannah.
horse of undoubted ability, his earlier career had been hampered by leg
problems so Richard Cook was subsequently entrusted with his well-being.
This partnership became a familiar site round the lanes of Gotherington
and Stanley Pontlarge prior to joining Nicky Sheppard’s yard at Eastnor.
After his previous history, War Paint did well to finish third on his
seasonal debut at Dunthrop and with the benefit of that run behind him he
was able to gallop his rivals into the ground.
Hill provided Charlotte Hicks with her first training success following
the 10-year-olds win in the second of the four Maidens. Juniper Hill left
his previous form well behind him and jumped like an old hand after Robert
Biddlecombe sent him into the lead at the third from home. The Aylworth
based trainer was quick to acknowledge the guidance provided by her mother
Caroline (who relinquished her training licence last year) and father
Robert who rode his first winner at this meeting 25 years ago.
Hutsby had ridden a treble at Dunthrop earlier in the season and repeated
that feat at this meeting. Following the success of Lead Vocalist, Hutsby
doubled up on debutante Dark Spark in the 5, 6 & 7 year old Maiden and
completed his second hat-trick of the season on Bold Tactics in the
Restricted. The former is yet another in the long list of homebred horses
that the Hutsby's produce on their farm near Stratford upon Avon, while
Bold Tactics was purchased in Ireland.
Medlar provided 16-year-old Berkshire schoolboy George Walters with a
fairy tale start to his race riding career, although it has to be said
that fortune was definitely on their side in the first part of the older
Maiden. Sir William had this race in his pocket and jumped the last
perfectly but for some unknown reason his partnership with Darren Edwards
was severed 50 yards after the obstacle which left State Medlar to coast
home to victory.
proved crucial in Division II of this race. Both Lord Supreme and Rodney
Trotter made mistakes at crucial times but Coole's Abbot was always going
to be difficult to pass and Peter Ponting’s gelding stayed on in
determined fashion to hold on by a length.
Rolls Royce engineer Robin Butterworth trains the 8-year-old at
Horton after he was purchased privately after he had been through the
Sales Ring at Doncaster.
Presuming Ed turned the Members into a procession after taking the lead at the 12th, The 9-year-old is now unbeaten in two races during the current season and must have been the horse who made the shortest journey to the racecourse because owner James Tuck trains about 50 yards from the course at Oldbury on the Hill.