The Albrighton meeting at Chaddesley Corbett survived an early morning inspection after heavy overnight rain. There was a decent attendance at the Worcestershire racecourse, which must have pleased the Albrighton Hunt considering the heavy downpours before racing and during the first couple of races.
Naunton Brook with 16 year-old Willie Twiston-Davies turned the Men's Open into a procession winning unchallenged by twenty five lengths from Ruari with Tom Weston in the plate. The winner is trained by the riders mother Cathy Twiston-Davies, the wife of top National Hunt trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies. Speaking after the race, she said, "He really enjoyed himself today and I am delighted for his owner David Langdon as he is one of most loyal owners; he has had horses with my husband for years, he is a builder by trade, we call him Bob The Builder as he has done a lot of work for us over the years. Naunton Brook has been a good horse under rules and I am in no rush to go down the hunter chase road with him, but there is a hunter chase at Exeter at the end of next month that I might run him in."
Another very impressive winner was the Abbi Vaughan trained Picaroon who never came off the bridle under Alex Dunn to win the Ladies Open by thirty lengths from the useful My Way De Solzen. The winner is owned by the riders mother Katherine Smith-Maxwell and the gelding was rated 138 under rules when trained by the trainers husband Tim Vaughan. Vaughan confirmed afterwards that the winner will now by entered for the Cheltenham Foxhunters, on this evidence he has to be a lively outsider.
The Gerald Bailey trained Dermatologiste with the trainers son Johnny in the plate were another combination to win a race by a wide margin, landing the spoils in the Restricted by twenty five lengths from the Dave Mansell ridden Blinding Lights with Echo India a further 10 lengths back in third. The Kayf Tara mare is owned by Lavina Taylor who also bred the horse herself, she missed seeing her winner as she was attending a wedding in New Zealand.
The Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members race for novice riders was won in good style by Akilak who looked impressive when beating Locksmith by 15 lengths with the well backed favourite Mister Quasimodo under Jack Greenall a further three lengths back in third. The winner was trained by James Evetts and ridden by his son Johnny Evetts, who at 6ft 5inches must be the tallest rider competing between the flags anywhere in the country. Evetts who owns the horse with his wife Peta said afterwards that he bought the horse in the summer at the Brightwell sales at Ascot, adding that the winner used to be trained under rules by Howard Johnson and part owned by the former England footballer Alan Shearer.
The first race on the card was the first division of the Open Maiden for 4,5 & 6 yr olds saw only two horses finish the course in the testing conditions with victory going to Ruud Revenge under Robert Hawker who beat the only other finisher Ease And Grace by 10 lengths. The winner is owned and trained at Calne by Gerald Burton and Hawker who is attached to the top National Hunt yard of Phillip Hobbs looks one of the riders to follow this season and for the future.
The second division of the Maiden is one that will live in the memory of those that watched the race on the course for many years to come. Coming to the last fence Cavita Eta under Tom Weston and Bill's Bank under Robert Jarrett took the last fence virtually together with the same outcome with the former falling and the latter unseating - the other fancied horse Anadama had fallen at the previous fence. This left two horses that were about a quarter of a mile back and looked like being pulled up, then all of a sudden they started to run on and race. These were Blues Baby Daisey under Lucy Worthington and Gongar Lane under Will Kinsey. As the riders of the fallen horses were still down at the last fence the two horses bypassed the last fence with victory going to Blues Baby Daisey under Lucy Worthington by 12 lengths from Gongar Lane. The winner is trained by Debra Newman who also has a half share in the horse. The runner up is trained at Chester by the rider Will Kinsey and co-owned by his father Richard, Nick Halstead, Simon Parrington and John Rickerby. Richard Kinsey made a valid point when I spoke to him in the parade ring, he said, "I feel that the mare wants more experience in Maidens before stepping up to the next grade, if we had won today then I do not think she would have gained enough experience to move on."
The Open Maiden for older horses, which also saw only two finishers, went to How Nice who relished the conditions under Sally Randall to beat Henry Kinchin on Showman by 10 lengths. The winner is trained by Sally Randall at Bridgend and owned by Aaron Wells, who was elated to have his first winner as an owner. Speaking after the race an emotional Wells, said, "I cannot believe it, I am still in shock. I am dedicating this win to my friend Craig Davies who sadly died in December, he has owned horses all his life, so I decided to buy a horse to run in his memory and went over to Ireland with Sally (Randall) in the summer and bought him."
Glidewell owned and trained at Shifnall by Neale Dalton, the chairman of the Albrighton point to point committee won the Members race for the second year running unchallenged by 20 lengths from Emma Tidesley on Giolla Dee. This year Glidewell was ridden by Robert Jarrett last year the horse ridden by his brother Jonathan. Dalton was delighted to win the race again when I spoke to him afterwards. He said, "I also won this race twice with Shoon Wind and the race as a lot of history attached to it with my family. I feel Glidewell is improving all the time, he has only raced nine times and has now won four times, I also thought he may have gone close when he fell at Bangor on Dee. When I first had him he would not settle and would sweat up before his races, but he is more relaxed now hopefully will go on from here."