There was a treble for Gina Andrews at the Quorn meeting at Garthorpe on Saturday, while the feature race of the day, the Mens Open (Quorn Gold Cup) was won by Tom McClorey and Thetalkinghorse for Mrs Moody and trainer, Gerald Bailey.
The champion lady jockey opened her account in the Ladies Open with an impressive display on board Susan Busby’s Top Smart. Only three started but it was an impressive field and the early running was set, predictably, by Lottie Crane and Qoubilai. On this occasion, however, they were never allowed to get away with Sharp Suit (Kelly Morgan) and Top Smart (Gina Andrews) keeping them honest. When the time came, though, nobody could match the speed of the winner, who pulled away impressively in the last half mile to beat Qoubilai by 18 lengths, with Sharp Suit a further 6 lengths back. The winning time was 6m 10s.
Andrews’ other winners both came from the Maiden divisions. The first was something of a surprise victory for Quick Oats who beat a spirited Robin De Boss (Kelly Morgan) by four lengths, with Demood (Johnny Bailey) in third, 8 lengths back. “The ground is the key,” Epping-based co-owner Nigel Padfield told me.
The second division saw a close finish between Celtic Silver (Gina Andrews) and Hurricane Vic (Tom Strawson). The latter was travelling very well as they turned for home but Andrews’ grey gelding found more and won by 1½ lengths. “We’ve had problems with him,” trainer Tom Ellis explained. “He’s had very sore shins after runs on softer ground but if the ground was right I felt he’d win today.” Third place went to Kings Red, the mount of Richard Collinson.
Say No (Fred Henderson) set the pace for the Mens Open and, had the race been a half mile longer, might have won this, but Thetalkinghorse (Tom McClorey) and Brackloon High (A. Barlow) proved to have too much pace and pulled past in the final stages. The winner put twenty lengths between him and the next to set the fastest time of the day and will now be aimed at the John Corbet at Stratford next month.
The opening race of the day was a Members race for Garthorpe hunts and the early running was set by Agent for Chaos (Kelly Morgan) and Billy Cuckoo (Lottie Crane), with support from Keep On Track and Sophie Walker. After two laps, however, it was the back markers, Dream Mistress (Fred Henderson) and L’Eldorado (Tom Chatfeild-Roberts) who moved past the girls and pushed the pace, L’Eldorado eventually triumphing by five lengths. Billy Cuckoo was third.
The second, a Midlands Area Members race, looked a good race on paper, with a number of similarly-rated horses, the best of which had not shown recent form. Rocky Island went off as favourite and made the running for the first half of the race but was eventually hampered by a loose horse, dropping off quickly to leave the battle between the three horses who had sat in behind. Proximo (Jack Andrews) had looked decidedly unhappy on soft ground at Clifton-upon-Dunsmore last weekend, but this was a different day, with very different ground, and he produced a great finish to beat an improving Grumblers Holt (Tom McClorey) by ¾L with Kazuri Kate, Claire Hart’s only ride of the day, back in third. “Bit of a surprise really,” Stuart Morris told me. “We ran him last week on soft ground and he just never went a yard. He kept jumping right-handed and I thought something was up with him, but I schooled him in the week after having his back looked at and he was fresh as a daisy.”
The fifth race of the day was a Members race for nine-year-old and over horses who had not won for since December 2014. Carlicue (Richard Collinson) and Scenic Route (Sam Davies-Thomas) were the front runners for two thirds of this race, before the former dropped back. Scenic Route tried vainly to keep the pace up but coming to the last the winner, Theodore Lamb (Hugh Nugent) eased past and, despite his valiant attempts he was beaten by a length. Annabel Wheatley trained Gallox Bridge (Miss R. Talbot) was third, five lengths behind them. The Winner’s trainer, Francesca Nimmo, told me that he is hunted first and starts his pointing late as a result. “He’s a pleasure to have at home but he’s never really had much luck.”
The last Members race of the day, the PPORA Members Conditions, saw a second victory in quick succession for the local Bevin team, for whom Bravehearted Harry, ridden by owner’s Son Rory, won last week at Andoversford. “It’s been our big plan for the season to run him two weekends running,” Rory told me. ” He’s a bit stuffy but he comes out of races well and I just thought it would suit him.” Confident in his ability, they led from the start and had enough left to hold off a spirited attack from second-placed Punter Friendly (J. Newman), who was impressive returning after a break. Velvet Royale was third for Tom McClorey and the Pringuer team.
To round off a ten-race card there were two charity flat races, both won by established horses. It was great to see Medermit among the runners in the first, with Sarah Welford on board, and he proved too classy for the others over a mile and a half. The second saw Serena Tyler abandon her job as Assistant Clerk of the Course to don her silks and ride her own Piccaroon to victory in an even faster time.
The next Midlands Area meeting is the Fernie’s, at Dingley next Sunday, 1st May. We hope to see you there.