ROGER'S OPEN RACE DOUBLE
Racegoers at the Ystrad Taf Fechan Point-To-Point Steeplechases last Saturday had plenty to smile about as all seven races were won by the favourites. And several bookmakers who 'caught a cold' - there was a cold wind blowing throughout the day - shut up shop before the last race had been run.
One well known hunt-racing enthusiast who also had a smile on his face was Bridgend builder Roger Willcox as he took both open races with his only two horses and which he trains himself. And there cannot be that many occasions when an owner/trainer has landed both the men's open and the ladies' open races at the same meeting.
In the John Lovell Memorial Mens Open race, his eight-year-old bay gelding Patricktom Boru, which he owns in partnership with his great friend Bill Corrigan who runs a fabrications and engineering company in Port Talbot, was well ridden by Llanharan's Evan David who sent the 5-4 favourite into at clear lead three fences from home and then went on to score by 20 lengths from recent course winner Captain Scarlett ridden by Welsh champion John Mathias. Patricktom Boru will run next in the Dunraven Bowl Hunter Chase at Chepstow on April 24.
In the Ladies Open race for the Mandryka Challenge Trophy, Lauberhorn, who blotted his copybook with a last fence fall at the Monmouthshire when just about leading eventual winner Chesnut Annie and Fine Resolve, came home five lengths ahead of the blinkered Sangfroid after Lion On The Prowl, who had jumped dangerously to the left at all his fences, ran out after jumping the 13th fence. Winning rider Anna Metekohy said, "I was confident of catching him anyway, he was just a marker, something to aim at." Lauberhorn also won the best turned out award which is more than could be said about his jovial owner/trainer who is one of the real characters on the Welsh hunt-racing circuit.
Paul and Myfanwy Miles's prolific Findlay's Find, which had been beaten by just a length by Highly Unlikely at the South Pembrokeshire Easter Monday fixure, after being stuck in his box for more than an hour in a traffic jam which had caused him to sweat up that day, made the early running but was overtaken by Molon Labe, Canshetrain and Cinaman and appeared to have no chance three fences from the finish. However, the nine-year-old who was patiently ridden by Hannah Lewis, ran on in astonishing style to score by three lengths from Molon Labe. "He just does things his own way" said Hannah and Myfanwy added, "He likes to worry us but we will have to see if he goes for a repeat win in the Dudley Cup ."
Former national champion rider James Tudor riding Steve Whistance's seven-year-old bay gelding Railway Benefit made every yard of the running to win the restricted by three parts of a length from Distant Sound. "He jumped brilliantly" said Tudor on dismounting.
Another horse who could be in the line up for the Dunraven Bowl is Andrew Leyshon's six-year-old bay gelding Fine Resolve who ran out a six lengths winner of the Intermediate race. "He used to have trouble breathing but we took him to Sker Beach a few times and galloped him and it seemed to do the trick" said Mr Leyshon. Winning rider Matthew Barber said, "He tried jink four out but he ran on well in the closing stages."
Jimmy Frost, who rode the 1989 Grand National winner Little Polvier, saw his wife Nikki's TheGreenDaleRocket beat the pacemaking Captain Camelot by half-a-length in the young horse maiden after they had jumped the last fence together. The well backed six-year-old by Oscar, was ridden by the Vale of Glamorgan's Byron Moorcroft, who used to ride out for Jimmy Frost, said, "I was all out and my horse was definitely stopping." The winner is owned by Mr Dave Williams who said, "This is my first winner, I bought him at the Ascot Sales last summer and he was a bit backward but he has come on a lot since then." Mr Williams also admitted having a nice little touch on the horse.
Ogmore-by-the-Sea's Nick Williams, riding the best turned out Wood Park, a nine-year-old bay gelding, took the aged maiden by three parts of a length after jumping the last alongside the runner-up Millys Delight ridden by Will Gordon. These were the only two of the seven starters to complete the course. The winning owner Mr Elvet Wilkins, from Amroth in West Wales, bought the horse from his daughter Lorna Williams who said, "Wood Park was wearing cheek bands for the first time and they certainly helped to keep his mind on things."
Hunt Members: Findlay's Find (Hannah Lewis) 2/5 fav
Restricted: Railway Benefit (James Tudor) 5-2 fav
Intermediate: Fine Resolve (Matthew Barber) evens fav
Men's Open: Patricktom Boru (Evan David) 5-4 fav
Ladies' Open: Lauberhorn (Anna Metekohy) 4/5 fav
Young Horse Maiden: TheGreenDaleRocket (Byron Moorcroft) 3-1 fav
Aged Maiden: Wood Park (Nick Williams) 4/5 fav