BRILLIANT DAY AT BITTERLEY POINT-TO-POINT RACES
The crowds flocked in droves to enjoy the brilliant sunshine at Bitterley for the Ludlow Hunt point-to-point, and enjoyed seven action-packed races.
Clerk of the course, Brian Perry and his team had done a superb job watering the course to produce good ground, and attracted the most runners over the busy weekend.
Kimbolton-based Sarah-Jayne Davies started proceedings as she meant to go on, riding a spirited race with Peter Corbett's 'rejuvenated' mare, Upton Springs to take the opening Member's race. This was the first leg of a memorable treble for the stable, with Tara Gale giving a fabulous front-running display under Jeremy Mahot to land the prestigious Men's Open race, and Upton Sovereign responding to Rob Jarrett's positive riding to give local owner Peter Corbett a double.
Bridgenorth trainer, Phillip Rowley sent out the favourite, Shouldhaveathat, in the Confined race, and watched Liam Payter give him a copybook ride for the gelding's second victory of the season. He was given a rousing reception by his owners, The Dealers Partnership, a syndicate of ten people based mainly in Shropshire. "We bought him to have fun with, and we are," explained Phillip, who has a share in the ex-Nicky Henderson – trained nine year-old.
Pat Tollit was a legend in the point-to-point world in her day, riding dozens of winners, and there were three generations of her family in the winner's enclosure to greet her Ladies open winner, Stratford Stroller, ably ridden by her granddaughter, Josephine Banks.
AllforClover, brilliantly ridden by Ben Poste, sprung a 25-1 shock in the 'Young Horse' Maiden, to the delight of trainer Mike Daniel. Her owner, Sue Troughton, a Worcestershire dairy farmer, had accompanied another of her horses to Stratford races, and left the decision of whether to run the mare in Mike's hands, and she appreciated the good ground.
The final maiden race of the day poignantly illustrated the unpredictable highs and lows of racing, giving trainer Ray Rogers a bittersweet day. Ray, who consistently takes the area title for veteran riders, was understandably upset to lose the five year old debutante, Colwall Gale on her promising introduction in the first maiden, inexplicably breaking her shoulder on the flat. Then the thirteen-year old Red Ringa, who Ray has trained for four years, finally put his problems behind him to get up by a length and a half with Sam Painting to take the Maiden for eight year-olds and over. Owned and bred by Worcestershire vet, David Denny, the gelding has been 'accident-prone' all his life. "He hasn't been the easiest to train, but we've forgiven him and carried on because he's so very honest in his races," explained Ray.
The next fixture in the Welsh Border area is Easter Saturday, Teme Valley Hunt at Brampton Bryan. First race 2 pm.