A large crowd enjoyed the spring weather and some excellent racing when the Quorn held their Point-to-Point races at Garthorpe on Sunday. The highlights included doubles for riders Tom Strawson and Kelly Morgan.
Kelly Morgan got the afternoon off to a good start riding the leading horse at Garthorpe Lough Inch in the opening Prestwold Hall Garthorpe Hunts Club Members Conditions race. The eight year old, owned by Lizzie Harris and trained by Lizzie and her partner Kelly's brother Tom Morgan, led from flag fall and the only sticky moment was when he made a slight mistake at the last. "He had loads left and was getting cheeky." Said Kelly afterwards. This was a third win at the course in 2015 and Lough Inch, who was eased down close home, now heads for the Dodson & Horrell PPORA Novice Riders' final at Tabley on Sunday 17th May. Val D'Auberge was second and Zaffarans Scene was third.
The second race was not quite as straightforward for Kelly as she was unseated from her mount Minstalad on the way to the start for the Coppice Homes PPORA Club Member's race for novice riders causing a delay to proceedings. Nevertheless Minstalad was always prominent and took command turning out of the back straight for the final time. He beat Dream Garden by two lengths with Murphy's Promise in third. Minstalad is owned and trained by Alwyne Fradley and his partner Faye Ludlow who bought him privately in January and normally compete with show horses. These two wins allowed Kelly Morgan to regain the lead for both the D &M Barthorpe Novice rider award and the lady rider award for the Midlands Area.
Tom Strawson has an unassailable lead in the Men's Championship with just two more Midlands meetings left. He gave Milson Robinson's Panama Canal a perfect ride to take the prestigious Shouler & Son Quorn Gold Cup. Strawson was happy to settle his mount towards the rear as a fast pace was set by Mac Halen and Nightcap Jack. He was then able to ease Panama Canal into the race on the final circuit and go on to win by four lengths from Sandpipers and Otto The Great. "My wife Christine couldn't come today and so I told her I would ring when they jumped the ditch for the final time. When I rang her she was cheering Tom on; I did say that he wouldn't be able to hear her!" explained a delighted Milson Robinson. Milson's son Simon, who trains Panama Canal, had won the Quorn Gold Cup as a rider with Golden Moss for Kit Cottingham some twenty years ago. His son Tom collected the cup making it a truly family affair.
Strawson's second win came with his own Tomstar in the William Hercock Builders Merchants PPORA Club Member's Conditions race. The eight year, who was purchased at Ascot Sales in January, beat Proximo by two lengths with TC Spitfire in third. "This horse is probably the most intelligent horse I have ever sat on! I have had my doubts about him making a racehorse!" explained the delighted Strawson who is sponsored by AGHAUL Ltd Haulage Contractors.
In the final race the Motorpoint Open Maiden race, Strawson finished third on Roger Jackson's Lord Golan; he rides Gonalston Cloud for the same owner in the Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate Final at Cheltenham on Wednesday. This race was won by Lord Baltimore and Dicky Collinson for The 2 Farmers and a Butcher Partnership and is trained by Andrew Pennock; the Collinson Pennock team are having a fantastic season. Beware The Bear was half a length away in third.
The rejuvenated 13 year old The King Of Angels took the Kite Construction Nine Year Olds and Over Midlands Area Club Members Conditions race in the hands of Pete Mann for whom this was a twelfth winner of the season. "I think it's the fact that Pete was in the saddle and not me that has made all the difference. We may go for the Fernie Four Miler at Dingley next week as he has won it before." Said winning owner Peter Bennett. The horse, who is trained by Pauline Harkin, finished a length and a half in front of Carlicue with Count Salazar in third.
The easiest winner of the day was Qoubilai who made it a fourth consecutive win in the Robert Whowell and Partners Ladies Open race for Ivan Crane and Jimmy King. The ex-Tim Vaughan eleven year old is now trained by Tom Messenger and ridden by Lottie Crane and will be aimed at the AGA Ladies Final at Stratford at the end of May. The riders of the first three past the post scored points for the AGA Lady Riders iTotal Control Championship.
The next meeting in the Midlands Area is the Fernie Point-to-Point at Dingley on Sunday 3rd May, first race 2pm.