Trainer Sam Jukes was thrilled to see Marcle Ridge and Hannah Lewis click at the first attempt with an impressive victory at the Barbury International Racing Club meeting held behind closed doors at Barbury Racecourse, near Marlborough. Jukes, who is based at Dymock, near Ledbury, had ridden the Clive Bennett-owned eight-year-old in all 11 of his previous starts, but handed over the reins to concentrate on training.
While there was no public admission on Sunday due to Covid-19 restrictions, there was no hiding Jukes's joy as Lewis's mount made all the running in the Alan King Barbury International Mixed Open to come home 11 lengths clear of Tuff Nano. Last year's winner, The Dellercheckout, was three lengths back in third, while favourite Jatiluwih was pulled up on the final circuit when well beaten. Jukes said, "All credit to the horse - what a performance. He was very good. Hannah rode him absolutely beautifully. She did exactly what we discussed to do with him. I am trying to take a step back from the riding. Lucy (Smith) is going to take over the pointers and I am hoping to train under rules. Hannah is a great friend, and it may be her last year riding. She wants to finish on 100 winners, so we thought we would see if we could help her do it." Marcle Ridge was sixth in the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last season, and another crack could be on the cards. "If we can we will try and aim for that again," said Jukes. "He gave me such a great spin last season."
Champion trainer Tom Ellis had a morale-boosting win after his wife, Gina Andrews, suffered facial injuries in a fall at Cheltenham on Friday, when Ingeborg Zilling made a successful debut in the first division of the Jockey Club Maiden for Mares and Fillies over 2m4f. Ellis reported the seven-time champion lady rider, who sustained a fractured eye socket and cheekbone, to be "in amazingly good spirits" after returning home to their Marton yard, near Rugby, from the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. Zac Baker rode Ingeborg Zilling, bred by Andrews's uncle, Angus Hodge, who owns the four-year-old in partnership with her grandmother, Rene Hodge. Having sent the filly into the lead at the third-last, his mount powered away to score by five lengths from Kates Lane. Ellis said, "It was always the plan to run here. She has just been an easy mare to train. She does nothing wrong and nothing flash."
So Socksy went one better than last year in division two to gain a well-deserved success for Ben Clarke's Mosterton stables, near Crewkerne. Darren Andrews kicked clear on the Adrian Paterson-owned six-year-old after the third-last and she bounded home by 18 lengths from Glimpse Of Gladys. Clarke said of his £17,000 Doncaster Sales buy, "She finished runner-up in two point-to-point bumpers here and was beaten a length in this race last year. I thought I daren't run her anywhere else."
Dan Ellis described riding his first winner on Fifty Shades in the first division of the www.barburyraces.co.uk PPORA Club Members Novice Riders Conditions Race (Level 2) as "a dream come true". The 16-year-old produced the Nick Williams trained seven-year-old to collar Azure Fly in between the final two fences, and his mount forged clear by four lengths. Ellis, who works for Williams's brother, Christian, at their Ogmore-by-Sea base in Glamorgan, said, "It's awesome. I have been pony racing since I was nine. I had my first ride at Chaddesley Corbett last week on this horse and came third. The owners, Richard and Dawn Prince, have been amazing, and it's many thanks to them."
Oxfordshire trainer Alan Hill took division two with new recruit Diplomate Sivola. Ben Sutton's mount got the upper hand of a duel on the final circuit with Barney Dawn and Georgie Benson, who works for Hill, to triumph by seven lengths. Hill explained that the seven-year-old gelding, formerly trained by Philip Hobbs, had arrived at his Aston Rowant yard after being bought by Sutton's father, Nick, from his shooting pal, David Maxwell. The trainer said, "That was a very nice performance. Ben has ridden out for us in the summer while he was looking for a job after finishing university. It has really done his confidence good."
Hill was completing a double after Salt Of The Earth took the Tattersalls Ireland Four and Five-Year-Olds Open Maiden over 2m4f. The four-year-old was three lengths down on Brother Byrne when the leader fell at the third-last leaving Will Biddick's mount clear, and he had enough in hand to come home two and a half lengths ahead of Foxinthebox. Salt Of The Earth carried the colours of Alan King's Royal Ascot winner, Coeur De Lion, with the horse's owners including Chris Harris. Hill reported his charge could now go to Thursday's Goffs UK December P2P Sale at Yorton Farm.
Brother Byrne's trainer-rider, Bradley Gibbs, gained compensation when Dawnie Boy romped home by 25 lengths from Vamanos in the second division of the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Six-Year-Olds and Over Open Maiden. The success continued Gibbs's fine start since moving to a new base at Lemsford, near Welwyn Garden City, owned by fiancée Claire Sherriff's father, Julian, whose colours were carried by Dawnie Boy. Claire commented, "He was bought from Ireland last year. Jimmy Kelly, one of Bradley's good friends, said this needs buying. It is brilliant to get another winner for the yard."
In the first division, Ifyoucanseemenow was only fourth jumping the last fence, but came with a wet sail under Nick Phillips to cut down I'm Wiser Now by a length and three-quarters. Bibury trainer Dibby Brown said, "If the hood worked, which it clearly did, we thought he could run well because we have always thought he had ability, but he just runs in a bit of a panic. He is a work in progress and to get a win is really something."
Mel Rowley's Morville yard, near Bridgnorth, and Alex Edwards reeled off a double in the two divisions of the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Four and Five-Year-Olds Point-to-Point Flat Race with Autumn Equinox and He's A Knowall. Autumn Equinox had a length to spare over Rose Above It in Division 1, before He's A Knowall cruised home by 15 lengths from Fountains Chief in the second division. Rowley's husband, Phil, who is involved in the ownership partnerships of both five-year-olds, said, "Autumn Equinox has had a wind op and came here mainly for the education. We thought He's A Knowall might go alright, but I'm not sure quite as nice as that, so we are very excited."