The Belvoir meeting at Garthorpe provided good racing on challenging ground, including a treble for Gina Andrews, a double for Tom Chatfeild-Roberts and his family and a double for the Bealby yard.
The PPORA Club Members Race for Novice Riders was the day’s opener and produced a convincing winner for Numbercruncher. Owner/rider David O’Brien had made the trip over from his base at J.J. O’Shea’s yard in Cheshire to qualify for the Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Novice Riders Series Final back at Garthorpe on 8th May. The winner finished a distance ahead of Lake Legend (A. Stevens) with Pebbleglen a length third.
L’Eldorado was the first of Tom Chatfeild-Roberts winners of the afternoon, in the Garthorpe Hunts Club Members Race, where he beat Tulsa (S. Davies-Thomas) by 17 lengths, with Bravehearted Harry back in third. The winner was returning to racing after over a year off, having last won at Thorpe in 2014. “I adore this horse,” Chris Bealby told me. “I’ve had him ten years and he’s the only horse I’ve ever trained to have won a bumper, a hurdle race and a chase. Antonia gave him the once over yesterday, as she does with all our runners, and told me he’s the best he’s ever been.” They will target the Members race at the Quorn meeting for their next run.
The Connolly’s Red Mills Precision Nutrition Intermediate Race provided the first real drama of the afternoon. Kelly Morgan and Tom Jackson’s exciting Agent For Chaos, which went off as favourite, was looking for an impressive three-in-a-row having won its maiden and restricted races at the first attempt. He hit the front with half a lap to go and built an impressive lead before making a mistake at the second last and unseating jockey Sam Davies-Thomas. This handed Gina Andrews and Katkolys an easy victory with The Master Remover (C.Buckle) a distant third. Winning Trainer Stuart Morris was unsure about whether they would run in the Intermediate Final at Cheltenham without another good run in between. “He’s coming back from two years out and I think he will improve with another run”, he told me.
Gina Andrews enjoyed a second win in the next race, the Mixed Open, as she piloted 7-year-old favourite Grand Gold to victory by 2 lengths from Panama Canal and Tom Strawson. This became a tactical race as the three runners covered the first two miles at a very steady pace, unwilling to make the running on holding ground. When the push finally came we enjoyed a fast finish but the overall race time of 7 minutes and 5 seconds tells a story.
The Andrews treble swiftly followed in the Restricted race as Samarnni edged a great finish by a short head. Family concern For A Change, ridden by Rory Bevin was the unlucky second. Winning co-owner Trevor Bourne was over the moon. “An accomplished jockey has won that one for us,” he grinned. “Gina’s been doing a lot of work with his jumping,” trainer Tom Ellis told me, “but when I worked him earlier in the week he felt fantastic so we knew he would be there or thereabouts.” The Chatfeild-Roberts’ Our Milly Acres was 6 lengths behind the first two.
The Thoroughbred Breeders Association Club Members Race for Mares and Fillies was another slow race but it eventually went to the top-rated She’s Real, giving Tom Chatfeild-Roberts his first double. The Helen Connors-trained mare is half-sister to Real Milan, previously trained by Don McCain and now winning Point-to-Points. She was having her first run after some time off and proved that she was back to some form. “I was a little concerned,” Connors told me, “because it has been a long break and I wasn’t sure how well she would go, but she’s a good jumper and when Tom asked for more she responded.” Kimora (J. Sole) was three lengths behind in second and Watney’s Way (C. Buckle) five lengths behind in third.
The final race of the day provided the biggest field, with 17 lining up for the Open Maiden race. The race was won by The Bay Oak, owned by Helen Connors, trained by Chris Bealby and ridden by Tom Strawson. Gina Andrews and Fizzlestix were in second, with Virgo The First in third. The Bay Oak was found for Helen by Bridget Speirs, but due to an injury at the time she ended up buying him unseen. “I had absolutely no expectations of him,” said Helen. “He isn’t flashy in work but clearly rises to the occasion and I’m just pleased to see them both back safe and sound.”
We are all now looking forward to the next Midlands Pointing meeting, the Woodland Pytchley meeting at Dingley on Saturday. A preview will be published tomorrow and entries listed on Wednesday. Keep up with going reports on www.midlandspointing.com where you can also by e-tickets for the meeting.