SUNDAY 28 MARCH 2004
by Peter Mansell
Photos by Graham Fisher
Like the proverbial bus, after waiting most of the season for
a winner two then come along at once. That was certainly the case for
retired Bushley Businessman Simon Gegg who had seen Asparagus land a major
prize for Matt Sheppards stable at Bangor on Dee on Saturday and 24 hours
later Allez Toujours put the icing on the cake with his success in Division
II of the 8-year-old and upward Maiden during the Ledbury Point to Point at
Allez Toujours was described in the racecard as a moderate ex-hurdler and that was an accurate description based on his previous form, but the transfer from Matts National Hunt yard at Eastnor to his wife Nickys Point to Point stable has obviously proved beneficial. The 9-year-old was given a confident ride by Nick Oliver and was left in front when the long time leader Rosemead Tye fell at the 15th. Allez Toujours had little difficulty keeping up the gallop and was 12 lengths clear of his nearest rival as they passed the post.
Cheltenham jockey Adrian Wintle was forced to miss this and
several other promising rides due to an ankle injury sustained at Brampton
Bryan on Saturday and with Julian Pritchard injuring his shoulder after a
fall from Father Tom, the list of winning riders had an unfamiliar look to
Two riders associated with National Hunt stables recorded their first successes. 22-year-old Rhys Hughes, an Amateur attached to Sue Johnsons (Mother of Richard) yard at Madley landed his first winner on Beauchamp Oracle in the Restricted while 19-year-old Gerard Tumelty, who is Alan Kings amateur at Barbury Castle steered Oneforthefrog to victory in one of the Maidens for Ashton Keynes owner/trainer Angela Sproule.
Balinova had put in a foot perfect round for Polly Gundry in
the Members but almost paid the penalty for his carelessness at the last
this partnership recovered quickly to maintain the impressive strike rate
for Clive Bennetts Dymock stable. Gundry followed up with another impressive
win on Christy Beamish in the Intermediate. The 7-year-old went into many
peoples notebooks after an easy Maiden win last May and that confidence
appears justified as he has recorded two easy successes already this year
and he looks to have a bright future.
Division I of the 5, 6 & 7 year old Maiden had to be split again on the day with the first half going to Harry Dowty on the John Phillips owned and Simon Bloss trained Lord Ken. The 6-year-old had literally fallen into a heap on his last run at Larkhill but after spending eight days in a Veterinary Hospital in Hampshire connections were left none the wiser as to the cause of that problem. Blackan Blue attempted to expose any flaws in his rivals constitution and this pair had the race to themselves in the closing stages but Lord Ken was fractionally quicker away after both horses had made mistakes at the last.
The 16th fence played a crucial part in the outcome of the second half of this race when Gumlayloy fell and brought down Will Shakespeare and Matrix. Lady Baronette was left well clear after the disasters that had befallen her rivals and the mare was steered home to victory by her Hook Norton based trainer/rider Andy Martin.
Tracy Ide and Geoff Barfoot Saunt enjoyed their first success since their marriage in the summer when Ebony Jack ran away with Division II of the younger Maiden. A number of horses held chances as they turned into the home straight, but their challenges fell by the wayside as the Berkeley qualified 7-year-old sprinted clear of the opposition between the final two fences.
An unusual incident allowed Polar Flight and Alex Charles Jones to take the Mixed Open. This partnership had taken the lead at the 14th but were being strongly challenged by Andrew Morley and Machalini all the way down the home straight until Andrew Morley lost his stirrup and fell off just as Machalini was beginning to make inroads into the leaders advantage.