Wessex Preview and update (Dorset and Somerset) Part 2
Wessex Preview (Part 2)
The Wessex point to point area is spread over the counties of Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire and includes the well- known courses of Larkhill, Badbury Rings, Cothelstone and Littlewindsor amongst the 10 different courses where meetings are held from December to May. Each course has its own particular characteristics which are suitable for different horses and riders but all are friendly venues where families are welcome to enjoy an afternoon of point to point horse racing. The area does house the leading trainer in the country namely Jack Barber but there is a wide number of trainers known as keepers situated right across the three counties who are actively involved in the sport. Detailed below is a further selection of keepers in Somerset and Dorset with updates about their runners for the season – This is the second of three such previews and the final one will follow shortly covering Wiltshire.
Sally was the leading trainer of a stable in the Wessex area with less than 9 horses in 2016 and has started 2017 with every intention that she wishes to retain this title. For this season she relies on five horses of which two are new to her yard. From last season she brings back Tom Barton, the winner of three races in 2016 and has already had a highly encouraging third to Subtle Sovereign at Larkhill which bodes well for this season. Also reappearing is Thereyarsee who won his last two races in 2016 and has already notched up a third career win in a Novice Riders race at Larkhill for owner Bill Dupont. He looks tailor-made for an Intermediate race in the near future. Sally’s other winner this season has come from the French bred Apple’s Queen a seven year old gelding who won a maiden race at Larkhill in good style. Bought at Ascot by Sally in April 2016 as a replacement for Garstin, who has been sold, upon the recommendations of Felix De Giles he should be able to progress for his new partnership consisting of Nicky Turner, Percy and Anne Tory and first-time owner Kevin Lloyd. Her other two horses are both maidens namely Flights a six year old mare owned and bred by Lady Cobham who had two outings in bumper races for Robert Walford before running a race of promise when finishing runner up at Barbury Castle earlier this month. Sired by King’s Theatre out of a Carroll House mare she ought to at least find a maiden race this season. Her other runner is planned to be Chilblains a seven year Relief Pitcher gelding who had two races for Sally last season finishing sixth in a maiden at Ston Easton last March. With Stan Sheppard becoming a conditional jockey this season she will be using the services of Lorcan Williams, 17, who is based at Paul Nicholls’ yard. Lorcan starts the season as a novice having recorded his first winner in his native Wales last April at Ystradowen but has already shown considerable promise in recording his first double with Sally’s two winners at Larkhill. Sally is recovering from a broken leg suffered after Boxing Day but is fortunate to have the assistance of the experienced Ali Trim to keep the horses in good order.
Jack was the leading point-to-point trainer in the country for last season and ran away with the Wessex Championship which he had won in 2015 in equally convincing style. Many of his younger horses from last season have either been sold or gone into training with Paul Nicholls so he starts the current season with some stalwarts but also many maidens whose progress will be of great interest to point-to-point followers. Jack hopes to run around 35 horses this season of which over 20 will be maidens.
The seasoned campaigners are headed by Ask the Weatherman owned by Paul Barber and David Martin whose record is nine races with eight victories and a second. Unbeaten in his two races in 2016 before a muscle problem brought a premature end to his season he showed his well-being when demolishing a strong Men’s Open race at Larkhill in the fastest time of the day by making virtually all. He is to be aimed at the Cheltenham Foxhunters and he could the best hope of England to defeat the Irish in this prestigious race.
Aikideau has continued his excellent form from 2016 by already winning two Ladies race at Larkhill this season under regular pilot Bryony Frost and she may get the chance to ride the game mare Posh Totty in Ladies races this season although the mare may also run in Novice Rider races for Christopher Barber. V Neck is a new inmate at Jack’s yard but he was previously trained by his grandfather Richard before an unsuccessful period at Paul Nicholls. Returning to racing for the first time since April 2014 he was the winner of an eighteen runner Restricted race at Larkhill and should give Christopher to whom he was given by Paul Nicholls a great deal of fun once he recovers from his broken collar bone.
Athreeothree and Dunn’s River both contributed to Jack’s winning total from last season and should do well in 2017 with Intermediate races the initial targets. Well Travelled is another who will be looking for an Intermediate victory having been acquired by the stable half way through last season. An interesting older new arrival is Golden Hoof the winner of four races for Nicky Henderson and bought by Jack at Doncaster last May. He finished a close up fifth on his point-to-point debut at Barbury Castle and should be winning his share of races this season.
Two to look out for this season are Dan McGrue the winner of a bumper at Roscommon in Ireland last August and bought at Ascot subsequently – his appearance in a Restricted race will be awaited with interest. The other one is Clenagh Castle bought by Jack out of Chris Grant’s stable at Doncaster last May. A seven year old King’s Theatre gelding he will be starting off in Maidens for Jack’s Racing Club.
Of the Maidens that have already raced this season Classical Milano will improve on his fourth at Larkhill but his next appearance will be at Doncaster following the decision that the late Graham Roach’s horses would be sent to the sales. Doctor Tiger has now had two outings, Ballyjim owned by Bill Dupont made his debut at Barbury and Viognier also began her racing career at the same course.
Will Biddick will continue his already successful riding arrangement with Jack’s stable and both his winners this season have come on Jack’s horses namely Ask the Weatherman and V Neck. Bryony Frost will ride the Ladies ‘horses whereas Christopher Barber will take the rides in the Novice Rider races. Martin McIntyre may also come in for rides as the season progresses.
Martin McIntyre will be in the saddle for the majority of Ben’s horses this season from his stable at Woolminstone, near Crewkerne. Now retired from the saddle Ben hopes to run 9 this season and has already broken his duck this season when Titans Approach won the Maiden race at the Larkhill meeting in December. He has also run Creative Inerta now owned by Norman and Monica Tory who fell in the fog at Larkhill and Granit, bought out of Nicky Henderson’s yard, who has just had one run so far at Chaddesley Corbett. Road to Success who is ridden by Liam Trott has had one outing so far at Larkhill. Ben will be running Minella Selfie who won two races for the stable last season and a newcomer Old Town Hero bought at Ascot last December. Last seen falling in a maiden at Ballyarthur, Ireland in April 2015 he is an unknown quantity. The stable is completed with three unnamed four year olds who may appear later in the season.
Sarah has 6 horses in her stable near Shepton Mallet and has already opened her account for the season following the success of The Editor who won at Barbury Castle. Describing the 5 year old Definite Article gelding as having matured since last season his victory did not come as a surprise to his trainer and was given a positive ride by Shane Quinlan. Sarah has had two rides so far this season on the consistent Third Chance with the latest run being his third place at Black Forest Lodge last Sunday in a competitive Ladies race. Sarah will continue her partnership with him and also hopes to ride Neverownup a new arrival to the yard. The winner of 4 steeplechases and a hurdle race when in the care of Doctor Richard Newland he has rather lost his way in recent times but it is hoped that a change of scene and being encouraged to settle will see a return of form. The remaining three horses are all unraced to date and unnamed but Sarah did mention a 5 year old Kayf Tara gelding owned by Paul Gardner of the Springcombe Park Stud as being a lovely prospect and one to note when he makes his debut.
George and his partner Charlotte Brown have 5 horses in their yard at Plush, near Dorchester. He has already run Tin Pot Man twice this season and will be looking to repeat his success in his Hunt race at Milborne St Andrew at the beginning of next month. A newcomer to the stable this year Lamb’s Cross has also raced twice this season and this dual steeplechase winner for Mark Gillard may be seen to better effect over shorter distances if this option is chosen. Mister Serious is another new addition for 2017. Bought at Ascot last July from Andrew Pennock’s yard he ran a most promising debut for the stable when finishing a good second to Porlock Bay at Black Forest Lodge on the opening day of the season. Owned by Lewis Knott son of Anthony Knott he should be one to follow for the season particularly as Porlock Bay has franked the form when winning his next race. Quick Question made his debut in one of the divisions of the point-to-point bumper at Barbury Castle and this four year old Black Sam Bellamy gelding should improve for that outing. The stable is completed by Driving Onwards whose next outing may be a ride for Charlotte in the South Dorset Hunt race.
It is a welcome return to the point-to-point field for Caroline and her partner Pat Bryant following Caroline’s decision to hand in her National Hunt training licence. Now sharing some boxes at the stables at Sarah Gould’s yard she intends to have three runners this season and two of these have already run. Palmaria was a promising third on her debut at Barbury Castle and was running another good race at Chaddesley Corbett until falling at the third last. Compensation ought to follow shortly for this Kayf Tara seven year old mare. Darkestbeforedawn who won two hurdle races for Caroline finished third at Barbury Castle in the Conditions race and seemed to appreciate a longer trip. The stable is made of the unraced six year old Marienbard gelding called Ballyantics. Bought by Caroline as a three year old he is a half- brother to Decade Player the winner of two Hunter Chases last season and is one that should be noted when he makes his debut.
Chloe has 6 horses to run this season from her base at Woolminstone, Near Crewkerne and has already notched up two wins. Sobre Tresor was winning his 10th career race when scoring in the Ladies race at Wadebridge under Taylor Pook and this game 11 year old looks sure to give his connections more success. He may be returning to the Cornwall course next month to run in the Mens Open race when he may be partnered by Ben Godfrey who secured his initial career win on him last year and is able to claim the 5lbs novice allowance. Her other winner this season came also at the same Wadebridge meeting when Minim Mouse won a Maiden for owner/breeder Michael Dare. He also owns Genermouse who unseated his rider in a Restricted race at the same venue. Chloe will bring back Amber River who is looking to break her maiden status, Tolatetobeearly who will be partnered by his owner Taylor Pook and Ballydub who won on his appearance at Littlewindsor in May 2016 on his first race for more than four years which was a remarkable training performance.
Rose has four horses to run from her stable near Ditcheat and the performances of Ceasar Milan who has finished third and second (to Ask the Weatherman) at Larkhill have been encouraging. His longer term goal are the Military races at Sandown but he should give his novice rider Lorcan Williams some good rides in the meantime. Rose will race Join Together again as well as Maxi Chop who had a spell summer jumping after the end of last season. The final member of the team is another newcomer to point-to-pointing Monsieur Gibraltar a six year old gelding who has won three hurdle races and has finished the runner up in four steeplechases to date. His appearance will be watched with interest.
Fiona who is based near Wincanton had an excellent introductory season with both of her horses Sacre Toi and Bruton winning for her. Sacre Toi defied a 12lb penalty when winning at Cotley last season before running a creditable third to Chapoturgeon at Woodford. He looked like he was going to win at Barbury Castle this month before being caught on the run in. He may next be seen in a Hunter Chase or another Mens Open race with James King continuing his successful partnership. Bruton has not yet run this season as he needs soft ground so plans for him are fluid at present. If James is not available she hopes that she can call upon the services of Will Biddick.