Written by Jake Exelby, feature image credit Neale Blackburn, chasdog.com
A sunny Bank Holiday saw a large crowd at Kingston Blount Kimblewick point-to-point on Sunday 7th May treated to three close finishes, two impressive wins and an eventful Mens Open won by a true course specialist.
Farol Mens Open
The latter was Gabrial the Great, owned, trained, and ridden by Evesham-based Thomas Murray in the eight-runner Farol Mens Open over the shorter distance of two-and-a-half miles. The 14-year-old, who has now won five races at Kimblewick can definitely be counted as a fortunate winner. The odds-on favourite Tigerbythetail, who was clear and going well, came a cropper at the second last bringing down second-placed What A Glance. Gabrial The Great, in third, was left in front and came home 15 lengths ahead of Wagner, with Dr Oakley ten lengths third.
Thomas laughed afterwards,
This is becoming a habit,”
but refused to comment when asked if he’d set-up a tripwire at the penultimate fence!
He loves sharp, quirky courses like this. He was very quiet today – flat-footed early on and not enjoying it, and I even thought about pulling-up, but he stayed on. I lost my stirrups coming down the hill and wasn’t hard on him, but I think we’d have finished second in any case.”
Chilterns Fox at Ibstone Ladies Open
Alan Hill rarely comes away from his local course empty-handed and he took the spoils with IK Brunel in the Chilterns Fox at Ibstone Ladies Open, in which just two went to post. The classy nine-year-old, looking for a confidence booster after abortive trips to Cheltenham and Aintree made all under Izzie Marshall and was never threatened by sole rival Fox Valley, coming home a fence in front.
Lynn Redman, representing winning owners of the I K Brunel partnership, which also includes Rodney and Gillie Mann and Maurice Thomas, told me,
It’s nice for him to get his confidence back, which was what he needed. We ran him here because it’s his local track and we’re local owners. We feared it might be a walkover, but luckily it wasn’t. He was unlucky at Cheltenham and Aintree – he didn’t enjoy it there and jumped too carefully. We can have a lot of fun with him, even if we’re not dining at the top table and will probably go to Stratford for the Handicap Hunter Chase next. Maurice (a popular figure among the point-to-point crowd) isn’t well and wasn’t able to come today, so we wish him all the best.”
Izzie was moving on to 13 wins for the year, putting her second in the female jockeys championship, which she confirmed is her goal again.
It hasn’t been the smoothest of seasons. I was out for a few weeks (after Aintree) and our horses weren’t going so well earlier in the season, although they are now.”
As for Sunday’s race,
It was effortless, although rather lonely – I’d rather have had some company. But it was the best thing for his confidence, and we’ll gear him up for Stratford now, where I’ll ride Normofthenorth for the same owners in the Ladies Final.”
French Horn at Sonning Conditions Race
The card opened with the French Horn at Sonning Conditions Race, for horses qualified within the South Midlands Area, which had six runners and saw the first of three exciting finishes. Southfield Lily, trained by Sara Bradstock and ridden by daughter Lily attempted to make all, as is her wont. Odds-on favourite Walkonthewildside made smooth progress to second down the back straight but was seen off by the bold-jumping seven-year-old mare, but progressive Paper Mill always looked a danger and almost joined the leader at the last, before a ferocious battle saw Southfield Lily hold on by a neck. Walkonthewildside was 25 lengths third.
That’s a fine example of how pointing benefits horses,”
beamed Sara in the winners enclosure.
She wouldn’t start under rules but has been good as gold between the flags. She front runs because we always let her do what she wants – she’s an opinionated lady (like her trainer!)” Explaining her improvement on recent runs, Sara said, “We tried to hold on to her at Higham, which didn’t work, and Larkhill was the wrong way round. She needs to get into a rhythm and that was a good performance. She’ll go back under rules now – but with Lily on board, as they get on well.”
Lily, moving on to six for the season, confirmed the reason for the front-running tactics, saying,
She’s too free if you drop her in and doesn’t settle. She found the bends here quite tight but jumped great. I knew I needed a big jump at the last in the back straight with the favourite upsides, she was quickly away from her fences, jumped better than her rival at the last and toughed it out.”
Shepherdess Gym Restricted
Long-distance traveller My Friend Freddie made the journey from Caroline Robinson’s base at Shifnal in Shropshire worthwhile when beating his five rivals in the Shepherdess Gym Restricted with Guy Sankey in the saddle. Another race where the result was in doubt until the run-in, the 9/4 shot took the lead after a circuit and – jumping well in the main despite one mistake – repelled all his challengers. One of those challengers was the persistent Right Hand Of God, whose task wasn’t helped by a mistake at the last, to score by three-quarters of a length. Odds on Serenisa, doing her best work at the end after losing her place, was six lengths third.
I didn’t think the track would suit, as I thought it would be too sharp for him, but the owners said we should run,”
He’s been consistent this year without winning, having taken his Members last season – that’s the Gold Cup for Mrs and Mrs Orchard, and his half-brother Best Friend Barnaby won it this year. He’s a game, tough little horse and I think we’ll keep him going – I’d like to go to Tabley, but don’t know if there’s a race for him there.”
Reflecting on her season, Caroline admitted,
It’s been frustrating. My daughter Immy’s only had one winner, after 15 last year, and we’ve had a lot of horses placed.”
Richardsons Chartered Accountants Maiden
The seven-runner Richardsons Chartered Accountants Maiden over two-and-a-half miles at Kimblewick point-to-point went to debutante Lavida Adiva and Tom Broughton, a first ever first time out four-year-old winner for young trainer Max Comley. Always going well in mid-division, she took up the running five out and, despite a mistake two out and being joined at the last by pointing newcomer Kelsey Park – who had been fractious in the preliminaries – she held on gamely to win by a neck, with Phil The Sock a never-dangerous 15 lengths behind.
I’m delighted with her,”
was an understated comment from a happy Max.
I bought her privately in Ireland, broke her in last summer, and sold a half-share to Ken Tyre, who’d been taken by her at my open day. We meant to run her sooner and I wasn’t 100% sure about coming here, as it’s a tricky course for youngsters, but walked the course last night and decided to run. She’ll go to the sales now, and has a nice page, being a half-sister to Grand National sixth Born By The Sea. Zack Davidson should get the credit – he does all the work with her at home and rides her every day. We’d be lost without him.”
Tom, who works for Fergal O’Brien, was fresh from a Cheltenham success with Miss Seagreen and said,
That’s my tenth pointing winner, easily my best season. I’ve now ridden two winners for Max from just four rides.”
Friends of Kingston Blount Intermediate
In the final contest at Kimblewick point-to-point, five faced the starter in the Friends of Kingston Blount Intermediate, which saw an impressive victory for Jack Andrews, and I’m Spellbound, bringing a positive end to a frustrating day for champion trainer Tom Ellis, for whom it was a 65th winner of another record-breaking season. Held up early and travelling easily throughout, once he jumped into the lead three out, the result was never in doubt, and he went on to score by six lengths and five from Bolamore Bridge and Urban Grit.
Co-owners the Marriage and Signy families had also enjoyed success at Cheltenham on Friday with Fairly Famous and Simon Marriage was sporting his lucky yellow jumper again.
Thank God for that,”
sighed a relieved Tom.
We’ve had some bad luck today – Tigerbythetail looked set for victory when falling and Kelsey Park was only just beaten giving away a lot of weight. I don’t know whether we’ll run him again – we could come back for the next meeting here. Ben Pauling recommended him to us at the Doncaster Sales – he’s got a bit of speed and is capable of winning over the shorter distances, but also stays well. Simon and Adam (Signy) are having a brilliant year – that’s 12 winners for them now.”
As for Tom’s fifth consecutive championship season,
It’s been a great year numerically and with results the sales. Some of our flagbearers – Dubai Quest, Fumet D’Oudairies and Latenightfumble – have been on the sidelines but then some of the youngsters coming through could be nice horses next season.”
Attention now turns to the Grafton point-to-point, at Edgcote this coming Sunday, 14th May.