The second Midlands Area meeting of the 2023 season was the first of four fixtures this season at Garthorpe, as the Melton Hunt Club took up an earlier position in the calendar on Sunday 5th February.
Unusually calm and sunny weather brought a good crowd to the Leicestershire track where they were treated to competitive racing across the whole six race card on good racing ground.
There was a treble for trainer Tom Ellis, two of which gave Jack Andrews a double on the day, while Premier Magic exerted his authority on the Mens Open and there were maiden wins for the Tom-Weston-trained Bond Broker and Captain Biggles trained by Tom Ellis.
The opening race of the day was the Alpha Drain Services Conditions race which had a classy field, half of which were also entered in the Men’s Open. After early progress was led by Clara Sorrento (Rupert Stearn) and Smoke Man (Tom Chatfeild-Roberts), a later faller, Tom Broughton and One For Rosie hit the front and drew clear after the last to register an impressive win for Jason Maguire’s team in the fastest time of the day. Ask Dai was second for Bradley Gibbs, with Jack Andrews and Golden Tobouggan in third.
Jason said, “Obviously it was a first run. We’ve had the horse for a couple of years but he isn’t the easiest to train and he’s done a lot of work in our rehab yard.” He went on, “it was a bit of fun to give him a chance and see if he would stay the distance. He’s never been three miles before.”
The Tattersalls Cheltenham Four and Five-year-old Maiden was next, one of the nationally sponsored series of races which present a shop window for the best young talent in the country. There were a number of very nice young horses on show in this race, including Nene River, ridden by Jack Andrews for Tom Ellis, who led for the first half of the race before falling at the last fence on the back straight with four to jump. Impression Chic (Bradley Gibbs) had taken up the lead at this stage but was overtaken with two to jump by the four-year-old Bond Broker (Gearoid Harney) who went on to win comfortably. It was another second for Bradley Gibbs with Impression Chic, while joint favourite Guivinec trained by Francesca Poste and ridden by Alice Stevens back in third.
“We bought Bond Broker as a foal in Ireland, broke him and prepared him to run. This was the first of the Tattersalls Cheltenham-sponsored races we had him ready for, so it was an obvious target,” trainer Tom Weston told me.
Jack Andrews got onto the scoreboard for trainer Tom Ellis and owner Stephen Howlett in the Belvoir Cricket and Countryside Trust Restricted race. His mount Itsallintheclouds went off as favourite but he chose to bide his time at the back of the field, moving up to lead turning onto the home straight. The grey gelding finished five lengths ahead of Champagne Glory (Dale Peters) and a long way clear of Goldenbrave (Billy Chatterton).
Jack said, “I think he’s beaten a good horse of Stuart Morris’s in second and the way he quickened up from the back really impressed me.”
It is common for high class open horses to avoid each other at Open level, for understandable reasons, so it was particularly rewarding for the Garthorpe crowd to be treated to a Mens Open, sponsored by Buscot Park, which included several of the highest rated point-to-point horses in the country at present.
This time Bradley Gibbs topped the results on the board as he steered a very impressive odds-on favourite Premier Magic to his eighth successive win in point-to-points, beating second favourite Law of Gold and Dale Peters into second place. Al Shahir, with Jack Andrews in the plate for Tom Ellis, was third.
Owner’s daughter Claire Sherriff said, “He’s just got so much ability, but coming to the last I thought he must have been tired, but Brad just sat up and let him pop it, landed and just took off again, so you never know how much he’s got left.”
It was the first run of the season for Law of Gold in second. David Kemp said, “the cold spell stopped us using the gallops and put us back a bit this season. We will be better for this run but could have done with another one.”
Ellie Callwood continued to extend her impressive point-to-point record in the Fairfax Saddles Ladies Open with a very assured victory on Precious Bounty, taking the horse’s record to seven wins from nine starts and her own to 9 wins and seven seconds from 29 starts. The Yeats nine-year-old is trained by Tom Ellis and made all in this race, beating No Hassle Hoff and Kate Gowing by nine lengths, with For Rita and Alice Stevens in third.
The last race of the afternoon was a three-mile maiden sponsored by Jupiter Asset Management with thirteen runners. It was won by the 6/4 favourite Captain Biggles and Jack Andrews, another grey from the yard of Tom Ellis. This was another impressive win for the yard by a horse with lots of potential.
The next meeting in the Midlands Area is hosted by the Brocklesby on Saturday 11th February where the seven-race card will begin at 12pm. You can read Emma Forman’s preview on the Midlands Pointing and PTPRC websites and the going at Brocklesby is currently good, good to soft in places.