THE decision to bypass Cheltenham this year paid off for connections of Latenightpass who won the Randox Foxhunters Chase at Aintree last Thursday week, providing his rider, the multiple ladies’ point-to-point champion, Gina Andrews, with her first success in the race.
The ever-enthusiastic Downpatrick-born, London-based property investor David Maxwell, who was so gracious in defeat, finished one and a quarter lengths back in second on his Paul Nicholls-trained Cat Tiger with Will Biddick a further one and three-quarter lengths back in third on Porlock Bay, who he trains.
The winner, a nine-year-old Passing Glance gelding, is trained by the successful rider’s husband Tom Ellis for his mother, Pippa, who bred the bay out of the Midnight Legend mare Latenightdip, a three-time point-to-point winner under Tom.
Latenightpass, who finished second at Aintree last year to Cousin Pascal (fifth on this occasion), now has three hunters’ chase wins to his credit as well as seven between the flags.
Best of the three Ireland-based runners in sixth in the two-mile, five-furlong race over the National fences was J.P. McManus’s Stand Up And Fight, trained by Enda Bolger and ridden by Aine O’Connor. The 10-year-old son of Flemensfirth was also the best-placed Irish-bred horse in the 23-runner field; apart from the home-bred winner, all those who finished in front of Stand Up And Fight carried an FR suffix.
There were three hunters’ chases in Britain since Aintree up to time of writing and all were won by horses bred in this country.
At Stratford last Sunday, the extended two-mile, six-furlong contest was won by the 10-year-old Court Cave gelding Peacocks Secret who was partnered to a 14-length success by his trainer, Dale Peters.
On the same afternoon at Wincanton, the Neil McLean-trained 10-year-old Well Chosen gelding, Sixteen Letters, justified favouritism in the hands of Josh Newman in the two-and-a-half-mile hunters’ chase.
The following concluding bumper was abandoned after this race while medical personnel attended to Major Charlie O’Shea who had been unseated from Paudie at the second fence.
Airlifted to Bristol Southmead Hospital with “serious chest injuries” and under sedation in intensive care that evening, O’Shea was reported to be making progress on Tuesday when he was breathing without the aid of a ventilator.
Rosie Howarth, who has partnered eight point-to-point winners this season (mainly for Cherry Coward), won the three-mile hunters’ chase at Hexham on Monday on her own Merrion Avenue, an eight-year-old Touch Of Land gelding who she also trains.