Horses in the Wessex Area Part 1 (North and West of the Area)
Wessex Point to Point preview (Part 1)
By Kirsty Boutflower
The Wessex point-to-point area extends from Exmoor in the West, across to the Mendip Hills in North Somerset right across to Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire and down to the coast. Within that large area there are numerous keepers/trainers of point-to-point racehorses and although the season has already started fans of the sport may be interested to see what some of those keepers are planning with their horses in the weeks and months ahead as the season starts to get really into full swing. As there are a substantial number of keepers this preview is being split into sections with the emphasis on this section being those situated in the north west of the area. Where possible those who are starting out with training horses for the first time are included but apologies if anyone has been missed out.
Janet Ackner has already run Aces High and Getaway Driver with the former shown to be in good form with himself after a fine run when finishing second at Chaddesley Corbett. His intended target is the Lord Ashton of Hyde’s Cup Men’s Open at the Heythrop.
George and Debbie Bielby had a great season last year culminating in two wins and multiple placings. Having retired stalwart, Carrickmines after his Holnicote win, they rely on Knight Blaze who aims to build on a good 6th at Wadebridge. Her next race will be the Mares race at Chipley. Ashe’s House, a former Rebecca Curtis inmate, has been given time to mature but may have run at Black Forest Lodge. The third of their trio is former 7 time Flat winner, Scottish Boogie, previously trained by Seamus Durack. Also a winner over hurdles, he has been given plenty of time off and they are cautiously optimistic.
Louise Cabble continues this season with Foynes Island who will be aimed at Open Races again this season plus Hunter Chases. The Westcountry Champion Chase at Buckfastleigh is also on the agenda following his good 3rd in the race last year. Mike and Naomi Roe have joined Tony Fear in partnership in the horse. Macginge owned by Sue Wall is a new recruit from the Marie McGuiness stable. Still a maiden he will be going to Milborne St Andrew for either the 2.5 maiden or the 3 mile version. Former Gordon Elliot inmate, Spicy Fruity is enjoying being in a smaller yard. Owned in partnership by Tony Fear and Graham Phippen, they are looking forward to him running in a maiden in March. Tony Fear also has a 4yo homebred mare in Miss Daisy Jane whose grandam was the classy No Need for Alarm, the winner of seven races under Rules. She should be out towards the end of the season. Last season’s leading Novice Rider and now a conditional jockey, Harry Cobden, owns a nice big mare called Fireing Pin bred by David Brace. This lightly raced maiden should be out sometime in March. The Hugh and Liz Webster owned Bandeirantes has also joined the Cabble yard. A very smart winner of his only race at Larkhill last season, this exciting horse will make his seasonal debut later in the spring.
Beth Childs has 5 horses in at present including Pauls Conn who finished a good 3rd in a maiden at Larkhill on the 3rd January He will run again soon. Beth also has Anglingforcharlie, a restricted horse which won his maiden impressively for her last year at Larkhill. He will probably be going hunter chasing at the early part of the season as she feels he struggles to stay 3miles. He will then revert to point –to-points later on in the season and make use of the 2mile 4 races which have been put in the calendar. Partner and co-trainer, Nick Lawton will ride.
As anticipated Keith Cummings has a strong team again. Certain Flight had been going well at home ahead of his seasonal debut at Larkhill only to receive a hefty clod of mud in his eye while travelling well. An eye infection is being treated and the plan is to target under 3 mile Hunter Chases with him. Little Cornham, who won his Intermediate last season will now be aimed at Condition Races. He may even be allowed a crack at a Novice Hunter Chase while an obvious target is the Quantock Hunt Race for the 5th time!! Steel Brush won his maiden at Kingston St Mary. He is described by his trainer as “a bonnie little horse who jumps and stays well.” Able to cope with softer conditions under foot, he will be out shortly. What About Will is new to the Cummings stables and Vicky Wade will ride this horse for her father, Keith. He may have to wait a while for the ground to dry out though, as will The Mystro, placed in a Bratton Down maiden last season and then a winner of his Hunt Race. He will now go down the restricted route. High Priority won his maiden at Upcott Cross last season. A slower maturing type, he has a great attitude and loves his racing. Waitnc was placed at Black Forest Lodge for the Henderson family under their now retired son Robbie. Now owned by a new syndicate, The Optimistic Friends, he has since had a wind operation but has recently been pleasing in his homework. Dark Gesture too, has been operated on for wind issues. He has strengthened up and Keith is hopeful of improvement on last year’s placings. Whenharrymetsally is another tough genuine inmate from the yard. A mare who enjoys the soft, she will be aimed at Chipley and possibly 4 mile races and a Hunter Chase. Youngsters include Bacchus de Pouilly, a German bred 4yo who they hope to run in the spring and an un-named 4yo by Kalanisi. Both are currently for sale. The rides will be shared between Will Biddick, Matt Hampton, Lee Drowne, Josh Newman and Vicky Wade.
Gordon Edwards has now only one for this season in Shannon Star following the sale of Supreme Danehill to Barry Orr for Victoria Pendleton to ride and on which she finished fourth at Black Forest Ledge last Sunday. Shannon Star was placed 3rd at Barbury Castle in December and will too be aimed at the Mares race at Chipley.
Neil & Kerri Harris mainly have some nice young horses in who will be looking to run in maidens once the ground has dried up a little bit! Of the older horses they still have their own Bowntobebad and Special Account who was 4th on his return to racing at Wadebridge this month. Mystery Edition the winner of the first race of the current season may well be one to follow for the rest of the season.
Philip & Sarah Hobbs hope to get Mendip Express bought at the end of last season for owner/rider David Maxwell qualified for the Foxhunters at Cheltenham. The winner of 7 point-to-points, a hurdle and 3 steeplechases he should be a leading contender for the premier Hunter Chase of the season as he has already won over the Cheltenham fences.
Stefan Kirwan who works for Philip Hobbs has already had his first runner as a new keeper when the Robert and Janet Gibbs owned Jayandbee ran in the Novice Riders race at Wadebridge this month. The winner of two chases on good ground should be seen to better effect when conditions start to dry up.
Sue Popham has old favourites, Iron Chancellor and Swansbrook in for this season. Both are now co-owned by Chris & Gill Scott, Peter Bugler and David Meyrick. Iron Chancellor duly got the new partnership off to a flier with a win at Wadebridge to delight connections. He may head for Hunter Chases later on. Swansbrook now entering the veteran stage was set to run at Black Forest Lodge with the emphasis being on fun!
Rookie trainer, Sam Telling has the chance to put things right at Holnicote this year after a heart-breaking lost weight cloth saw her “win” in the charity race voided. She has Lady Annabel to get the ball rolling with a run in the Minehead Harriers & West Somerset Hunt Race being the ultimate goal.
Kayley Woollacott whose horses are principally qualified in the Devon and Cornwall area does have some Wessex qualified horses. These include the Cotley qualified pair of Parkam Jack and Steeltown both owned by John and Floss Symes who hopefully will give the yard some fun in Opens and Hunter Chases. She also has a nice bunch of 4yos that she is hoping will get a run including a brother to Lucette Annie by Tobougg and a brother to Winter Soldier (who she trained last year) by Alflora.