The Midlands Area Club put on a bumper nine race card at their Point-to-Point at Thorpe Lodge on Sunday, with the Maiden race dividing again on the day extending the programme, and 90 runners went to post during the afternoon.
Oliver Greenall continued his run of good form following a win with Threapwood at the South Wold last week; he teamed up with Ed Glassonbury for a double starting with Quantum Theory in the Pollards Coffee Men's Open race. The 11 year old, formerly trained by Gary Hanmer, was brought with a well-timed run two fences from home. "We didn't want to hit the front too soon." Explained Greenall after Stephen Evason's gelding's victory. Quantum Theory is now qualified to run in the £7500 3 miles 2 ½ furlongs Bonham's Men's Open Point-to-Point Championship final Hunter Chase at Cheltenham on Wednesday 29th April. Top Midlands mare Popaway started the 4-6 favourite and finished second beaten three lengths by the winner losing nothing in defeat over a trip that is further than her optimum. The 13 year old Pristine Condition ran well for Philip Andrew and Dale Peters to finish third after a lengthy absence from the track.
With a safety factor of 18 the following Sharp Nutrition Restricted race was close to dividing when the maximum number of horses declared. It was Stuart Parkin's Sparkle Star that completed the Greenall / Glassonbury double at a starting price of 7-1. The seven year old, who won a Maiden at Tabley last April, made up ground quickly turning out of the back straight and went on to beat Connies Cross by two lengths with Brake Hill a further length and a half away in third. "I bought him at Doncaster Sales as a four year old. He is a bit inconsistent and suffers with back problems; he is certainly best when fresh." Explained Greenall. The winning owner Stuart Parkin was not present as he was skiing in Val d' Isere but was delighted to be reached by telephone from the winner's enclosure. Sparkle Star has now qualified for the Subaru Restricted Point-to-Point Final at Stratford on Friday 29th May.
The double very nearly became a treble for the Greenall stable with Eric Brook's Nortonthorpelegend starting favourite for Division two part two of the Open Maiden. However the five year old could not get near the easiest winner of the day Gonalston Cloud who was 25 lengths clear at the line. Roger Jackson purchased the gelding in Ireland and the eight year old grey had some form under rules when trained by Nick Kent. This year Thorpe Lodge is celebrating 40 years of racing at the course and so it was fitting that Jackson should have a winner since he won the first Member's race at the course as a rider on a horse called Love for his father Frank. Gonalston Cloud was ridden by Tom Strawson who is sponsored by AGHAUL Ltd Haulage Contractors and for whom this was a first winner of the 2015 campaign. It is always a problem when races divide on the day but luckily Lawney Hill, Dan Skelton and another friend of the Midlands Area generously came forward to sponsor the extra race.
The afternoon did not start so favourably for Strawson with his other ride of the day Roby De Cimbre who was a fancied runner in the opening Timico Midlands Area Club Members Race. Sadly the grey who won here at the Easter Monday meeting last year sustained a haematoma injury and needed veterinary treatment after the race. Instead it was Nick Wright's 13 year old Patsy Finnegan who took the spoils giving Archie Wright, who is sponsored by Strutt & Parker, a fourth winner of the season. "This success is all down to Crystal Stanley and Jo Brisland; they do all the work." The winning rider was quick to say after dismounting. Owner Nick Wright was attending a family lunch and unable to be present to see his horse beat Nightcap Jack by six lengths.
Legal Legend won the Midlands Area Yards & Owners Intermediate race by the much narrower margin of a head for the Connell family beating Mr Madeit into second palce with Irish Anthem in third. A Didmarton Restricted winner last year, Legal Legend jumped really well in the hands of Tom McClorey, who with his third place on Midnight Monkey in the Maiden took the lead in the D&M Barthorpe Midlands Area Rider's Championship. The first two horses qualified for the £7000 3 miles 1 ½ furlongs Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate Point-to-Point Championship Hunter Chase Final at Cheltenham on Wednesday 29th April. The connections of Mr Madeit Countess Cathcart, George Greenock and Gerald Bailey now have two horses eligible for the final following Empire Builder's win at Brocklesby last week. After the race trainer Gerald Bailey left for Market Rasen where his wife Caroline had runners resulting in two fourth places.
The two and a half hour journey from Worcestershire was worth it for owner Christine Esling when her The Magherally Man put in a superb round of jumping to take the Alpha Feeds PPORA Club Members Race for Novice Riders. "I'm shocked and speechless that he is this good! The horse has grown in confidence and my trainer Tim Eades has worked really hard with him." Said Mrs Esling. Rider Lara Mahon was not hanging around in the winner's enclosure; with 12 stone 5lbs to carry the heavy saddle needed to be dealt with quickly after the race! Jo Messenger's Life Long ran another good race to finish second for Faye Conway beaten a length and a half, with Talkin Thomas and Steven Croft a further four lengths away in third. The riders of the first three past the post scored points for the Harley Racing National Novice Riders Championship and the first three horses and riders past the post are now eligible for the £1000 Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members Novice Riders Series Final at Tabley on Sunday 17th May.
There was an exciting finish between the Andrews sisters in the D&M Barthorpe Ladies Open race with Bridget riding What A Laugh just beating Gina and Volcan Surprise by a length. Owned by Richard Davies –Cooke and trained by Gary Hanmer the ten year old What A Laugh was having his first outing of the season and no doubt Hunter Chasing will be on the cards for him in the near future, however not before he has taken in the Member's race at Bangor in a few weeks time. The riders of the first three past the post scored points for the AGA Lady Riders iTotal Control Championships.
25 year old Billy Aprahamian enjoyed a fairy tale start to race riding when winning on Endofdiscusion in the Midland Area Point-to-Point Awards Dinner Open Maiden Race division two part one. The eight year old was bought by the Billy's father John out of Paul Webber's yard and beat the 6-4 favourite First Fruit who is a half- sister to Fruit Fayre and unlikely to remain a Maiden for much longer.
First Fruit's trainer Sheila Crow was successful in the first division of the Maiden race sponsored by NFU with Toodle Horse who gave another rider James O'Reilly an initial success. The 21 year old who is originally from County Cork was noticed by Mrs Crow and the potential she saw in him was fulfilled when his strength in the finish got Toodle Horse home two lengths to the good over the long timer leader Road West. "James is a good worker and he will get more chances in races." Confirmed Mrs Crow. Octogenarian owner Derek Pugh is sadly too frail to travel to the races now but he will be watching the DVD in the coming days and seeing that his Toodle Horse won in the fastest time of the three Maidens.
The next meeting in the Midlands Area is the Brocklesby Point-to-Point at Brocklesby Park on Sunday 1st March, first race 1pm.