SINCE this column last appeared in the issue of Saturday, April 16th a lot of meetings have been held in Britain but many have had a poor turn-out of runners with few races attracting fields in double figures.
There was no point-to-point racing on Easter Sunday but 16 fixtures went ahead over the extended weekend although not that scheduled for Charing on the Saturday which was cancelled five days earlier due to a lack of entries.
The reigning men’s champion, James King, partnered five winners last weekend to move onto the 38-win mark, two ahead of former multiple champion, Will Biddick, who had topped the leaderboard for most of the season.
King recorded a four-timer on Sunday at Lydstep where there were three races with three runners apiece, two matches and one walkover.
One of King’s winners, the nine-year-old Wareed gelding Hitdroadjack, was trained by John Mathias but the other three – all also Irish-bred – were for Luke Price.
The pair combined to land the three-runner maiden with the 2/5 favourite Fubar, an eight-year-old Le Fou gelding who has plenty of track experience behind him.
On Saturday at Parham, where there were two races with three runners, one match and a walkover, King landed the Level 3 owner-trainer conditions race on the Jason Warner-trained Ahead Of The Game, an eight-year-old Westerner gelding who was one of five Irish-bred winners on the card.
Six for Andrews
Gina Andrews, the multiple, and reigning, ladies champion, partnered six winners in the period under review, all trained by her husband, Tom Ellis, and she heads into this weekend on the 42-win mark, well clear of her nearest rival, Izzie Marshall (19).
Andrews had just two rides last weekend, both at Woodford on Saturday. She pulled up the favourite Master Templar in the Lorna Brooke memorial qualifier conditions race for lady riders but earlier claimed the Level 3 conditions race on the French-bred Bawnmore.
Co Galway-born Tommie O’Brien partnered the runner-up in this race but did land the 10-runner maiden on the Francesca Poste-trained Also Known As.
Odds-on when second of three on his only previous start earlier in the month, the Presenting four-year-old was despatched as 3/1 favourite here. The bay is out of the hurdle-winning Glacial Storm mare Jay Lo who has bred four track winners.
O’Brien also had to settle for second in the four-runner Jockey Club mares’ novice championship final where the winner was the Leslie Jefford-trained British-bred favourite Walkin Out who was partnered by Co Meath native Martin McIntyre.
On Sunday, the latter was in action at Stafford Cross where he made all to land the three-runner Intermediate on Sam Loxton’s charge Westhill.
That seven-year-old Westerner gelding was one of six Irish-bred winners on the seven-race card, three of them being ridden by Darren Edwards and trained by Dean Summersby.
On the same afternoon at Easingwold, there were no declarations for the opening members’ race while there were two matches and three three-runner races. However, nine lined-up for the concluding maiden which was won by the Ross Wilson-ridden, Lynne Ward-trained Whostosay, a 10-year-old Witness Box gelding.
Lady Dudley Cup
There were some performances of note over the Easter weekend including a five-timer for James King at Chaddlesley Corbett on the Saturday.
One of his winners was the British-bred Igor who recorded a 12-length success in the featured three-mile, two-furlong men’s open for the Lady Dudley Cup.
The 2/1 chance is trained by his owner Robert Waley-Cohen who had to find a rider for his charge following the retirement of son Sam seven days earlier.
While Tom Ellis looks to have the Foran leading trainers’ title for larger yards sown-up, Alan Hill is turning out plenty of winners as well and the Aston Rowant handler saddled five over Easter, three of them partnered by Izzie Marshall.
Ellis and wife Gina Andrews completed a treble in the maiden at Lockinge on the Monday with the very consistent seven-year-old Presenting gelding, Wireless Operator.
Dale Peters, who received £120,000 for his Mollington maiden winner, the four-year-old Court Cave gelding Byorderofthecourt, at last Friday’s Tattersalls Cheltenham April Sale, partnered four Irish-bred winners at Dingley on Saturday, April 16th, all of whom he trains himself.
The quartet included the 10-year-old Court Cave gelding Peacocks Secret who walked over in the two-mile, four-furlong mixed open.
In the three-mile maiden, Peters was on board the even-money favourite By Appointmentonly but was beaten four lengths into second by Zac Baker on the Stuart Morris-trained Champagne Glory.
A faller on his only previous start in Britain, this five-year-old Getaway gelding, who was trained here by Sean Doyle, was bred by Michael Croke out of the point-to-point-winning Shahrastani mare Champagne Bar.
Two days later at Paxford, Baker recorded a treble which was initiated in the two-runner five-year-old and upwards maiden on the 2017 Valirann gelding Tufton Avenue who is out of the unraced Rosie’s Trix (by Luso).
This newcomer, who failed to sell at Cheltenham last Friday, is owned and trained by retired Co Cork-born jockey, Maurice Linehan.
There were six hunters’ chases in the period under review and two of the winners carried an IRE suffix.
They were the seven-year-old Sans Frontieres gelding Port O’Clock, who won at Exeter on April 14th for the in-form team of rider Darren Edwards and trainer Dean Summersby, and the nine-year-old Hard Spun gelding Global Racing who scored at Sedgefield last Tuesday week for rider Becky Smith and trainer James Cookson.