The Midlands Area point-to-point season kicked off in style on Sunday with the Midlands Area Club meeting at Thorpe Lodge, just outside Newark. A total of 111 runners came under Starter’s orders and two additional races had to be split for safety reasons, a testament to the preparation of the course by Clerk of the Course Peter Rule and his band of hard-working volunteers.
The day’s racing began in short-lived sunshine, and brought eight runners forward to contest the Timico Midlands Area Club Members Race. The early running was led by the Tommy Morgan-trained 6-year-old mare, Teeton Power, stalked close behind by L’Eldorado, Callhimwhatyouwant and Denali Highway. Nothing much changed until three from home when the 12-year-old L’Eldorado (Tom Chatfeild-Roberts) put his head in front and set out his intentions. It looked like the result was sewn up by the last but the run-in produced a great finish, with both Denali Highway (Tom McClorey) and Teeton Power (Dale Peters) pushing the eventual winner to the line. The Chris Bealby-trained L’Eldorado held them off to beat Denali Highway by a head and Teeton Power by less than two lengths. A special mention should go to young Philip Armson in only his second race as a jockey. It is always good to see the next generation making the jump from ponies to point-to-points and we hope his career is as glittering as his Father’s.
The second race, The Finch Haddon Arms Intermediate Race, was won in style by an impressive Golden Tobouggan (Claire Hardwick) who led throughout. The Julie Wadland-trained 6-year-old, who won his Restricted last time out in December, set off as favourite and beat Dido (Dale Peters) by six lengths with Velvet Royale (Tom McClorey) in third.
The Bowrings Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members race for Novice Riders had attracted 37 entries and looked likely to be split, but with 18 declarations on the day, the exact Safety Factor number, a large field came to post instead. The lead changed regularly during this race, with Cyrien Star and Bayley’s Dream early front runners, and Orange Nassau taking it up later on. Bayley’s Dream (Billy Aprahamian) hit the front with four to go and two-out was pulling away impressively. Orange Nassau (T. Britten) had no answer and finished twelve lengths behind the winner, with an impressive performance from Merrydown Black (Sophie Walker) bringing it third place.
The Mens Open Race was sponsored by Sharp Nutrition and eleven runners came under orders. Mrs Moody’s TheTalkingHorse looked a dead cert pre-race and went off as favourite but dropped off the pace during the last lap, having been prominent thus far. Master Workman (Sam Davies-Thomas) was another who looked promising but ran out of steam in the last mile. Tim Thirlby’s Arkose (Will Thirlby) took up the running with five or so to jump but couldn’t contain the challenge posed by Warden Hill (Tom Chatfeild-Roberts) who hit the front with three to go and wasn’t challenged on the run in, beating Arkose by twelve lengths. A nice double for the Chatfeild-Roberts stable.
The Roade Fibres Restricted Race had to be split into two divisions of nine runners. The David Kemp-trained Ballalough (Sam Davies-Thomas) won the first in fine style having taken the lead over from Brake Hill, who was second, after three from home. The second division went rather by the book. The Waley-Cohen’s impressive Facile Bien (Sam Waley-Cohen) followed up his December maiden victory with another here. Impressive flat speed saw off the late challenge from Robin De Boss (Dale Peters) and made up for his jumping which was clumsy at times.
If there is one horse which loves the Thorpe Lodge track then Popaway has to be it. The 12-year-old mare has won at almost every level at the Nottinghamshire track and didn’t look like being beaten here. Claire Hardwick led the seven runners on the second favourite, All Great N Theory, for much of the race but Immy Robinson’s mount Popaway was never far behind and made her move with half a lap to travel and ran out to win by 19 lengths in the end. “I love this horse!” Immy shouted as she pulled up, and it is easy to see why.
With 29 and 28 entries respectively, there was always a chance that one of the Newark Livestock Market Maiden Divisions would have to split a second time and so it turned out, with the first division being divided again. 20-1 shot Aldergale triumphed in the first for owner/jockey Tom Strawson and his girlfriend Rebecca Crosbie Starling, beating Middleton’s Minx into second by a head. Paddy, as the winner is known, is clearly a very popular horse. My ears are still ringing from the high-pitched screams on the run-in.
The second half of the first division went to the Stuart Morris-trained Cornerman (Jack Andrews) who coped with the spirited challenge of Semper Invicta (Tom McClorey), the evens favourite, in the finishing straight. Station Master (Peter Fahey) was third.
Finally, as the gloom descended, the second divsion of the Maiden got under way and, if you will forgive the pun, The Flame shone in the darkness. The Sophie Lacey-trained four-year-old gelding excelled as she beat the useful De Pilgram (Jack Andrews) by four lengths with Thomas Patrick (Tom Chatfeild-Roberts) also impressing in third.
Many thanks to all saw it through to the end. Our next meeting is the Brocklesby, at Brocklesby Park, in a fortnight on Sunday 12th February. As usual we have a seven-race (at least) card with lots of wonderful sponsors. Details and e-tickets available on www.midlandspointing.com.