Atherstone at Clifton-upon-Dunsmore - report

Serena Tyler and RUDOLPH

The highlight of the Atherstone's Point-to-Point meeting at Clifton-upon-Dunsmore was a popular double for owner/trainer Serena Tyler, who notched up wins in the Confined Hunts race with Mac Halen and the Maiden with Rudolph. These victories, along with a second in the Ladies Open, mean Serena now leads the Midlands Area Lady Rider Championship by ten points.

An excellent crowd gathered in Spring sunshine to support this meeting which had been in the balance at times, but excellent work from the organising committee and Clerk of the Course Andrew Garland meant we were able to enjoy a full afternoon of racing.

The Hunt Members race saw the promising Samarnni forward after two recent wins this season for owners which include Hon. Secretary Mary Bourne and her Husband Trevor. Gina Andrews had what can only be described as a challenging ride as the 2/7 favourite jumped progressively further and further right at each fence, attracting a collective gasp from the watching crowd. Having been caught by Oryx Falcon (J. Martin) at nearly every fence, Samarnni did finally pull away to record a 20-length victory over Oryx Falcon in second, with Defying Gravity (G. Walters) 8 lengths behind these two. The winning time was 7m 21s."He normally pulls left," an exhausted-looking Gina Andrews told me, "so this [left-handed] track should have suited him. He nearly decked me three times!" There is no doubt that many jockeys would not have got the horse round.

The Confined Hunts race produced an impressive display by Mac Halen (Mrs S. Tyler), beating Arkose (W. Thirlbl) by one and a half lengths, with Flicka's Witness (N. Meek)  6 lengths behind in third. "I only declared him very late," Serena admitted, "he's a strong horse and I wasn't sure about the ground but away he came."

The third race on the card was The Jockey Club Open Maiden for Mares and Fillies, part of the Mares Maiden Series. These races have suffered from a few abandonments so it is a great pleasure to announce that a new race in the series will be run at the Fernie meeting on the 1st May. The winner here was the 7-year-old Hurricane's Girl (J. Nixon) who found just enough in the final straight to beat 2/1 favourite Abijoe (Miss G. Andrews) by 3½ lengths. Winning owner Richard Evans was pleased with his home-bred 7yo who had not previously stayed three miles well. "She has now shown she can do this distance, and on soft ground. Having been a previous Clerk of the Course here I cannot tell you how much credit the team here deserve for keeping this meeting on."

The Mens Open was unfortunate to have only two starters, after a numbers of owners had decided not to run in the wet ground. Bell on Bike (W. Aprahamian) and Mister Philson (G. Walters) provided us with a race, albeit with the slowest time of the day, 7m 26s. The final lap saw some to-ing and fro-ing before Greg Walters eased Mister Philson clear to win by four lengths. Trainer Laura Pomfret explained, "he's not run since February having had a couple of set backs and missing out at Thorpe when it was abandoned. We moved him into this race to avoid a walkover and it's worked in our favour, it's just a shame there weren't more entries." The horse's owner Sarah McLean will now ride him in the charity flat race at Garthorpe on Saturday on what is set to be good ground.

Greg Walters and MISTER PHILSON

Another race to suffer from low declarations was the Ladies Open. Here, though, the going wasn't the only deterrent as the seemingly unbeatable mudlark Palypso De Creek (Miss C. Hart) was on the board. This time it was Redpender who provided the competition, Serena Tyler taking the catch ride after the owner's daughter Tara Rait-Rattray had suffered a concussion in an earlier fall from Stiletto Blade in the Mares and Fillies race. Palypso De Creek came home in 7m 3s, a fence and a half ahead, and will now head for Garthorpe on Saturday.

The Restricted race proved to be a more exciting race, with Sun Lady (J. Brace), Young QC (T. O'Brien), More Tricks (J. Day) and Davids City (P. Millington) maintaining a better pace, the lead changing regularly early on. Sun Lady, who provided jockey Jamie Brace with his maiden winner at Guilsborough last weekend, pulled away three fences from home and looked to have it all sewn up with a five length lead before falling at the last and handing victory to Young QC, who beat More Tricks home by 8 lengths, with Davids City in third. The winning horse won last time out at Hereford and had been placed behind some good horses prior to that. The winning syndicate, The Rugby St. Racing Club, are all in the legal profession, one being the eponymous young QC, Tom Mitcheson. "We will look for one more run on better ground, " syndicate member Barnaby Shaw told me, "possibly at Cold Harbour, before giving him some time off."

Tommie O'Brien and YOUNG QC

The last race on the card was the Open Maiden and this was won by Serena Tyler and her own Rudolph, who dictated the race from the front and came home 30 lengths clear of Black Sambuca (G. Walters), the only other to finish.

The Midlands Area moves on without delay to our next meeting, the Quorn at Garthorpe on Saturday 23rd. A very promising list of entries and going which is likely to be good, if the forecast is accurate, bode well for an excellent day of racing. As usual there will by the usual large array of trade stands and the popular Irish band are returning to entertain us all after the day's racing has finished. See you there.

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