Review North Warwickshire Club Point-to-Point Mollington

James King winning the Oriental Club race on Ahead Of The Game
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Review North Warwickshire Club Point-to-Point Mollington

Written by Jake Exelby

The North Warwickshire Club point-to-point at Mollington on Saturday treated spectators to 30 runners in the six races, some impressive performances, doubles for jockey Dale Peters and trainer David Kemp and a local success in the Grand National, shown on the big screen after racing!

The pair teamed up to great effect with Caryto Des Brosses in the Hatton Arms Mixed Open. Although the race was a match, it was no foregone conclusion beforehand, with the winner’s sole opponent being useful pointer Dundrum Wood, with Aintree Foxhunters heroine Gina Andrews on board. Always in front, the classy ten-year-old soon went four lengths ahead, an advantage he maintained – despite Dundrum Wood closing three out – until quickening clear before the last to score unchallenged by eight lengths.

I don’t think there’s a horse in the country without problems, but he’s had more than most,”

smiled winning owner Jon Ridge afterwards.

I’ve had him since he was four – he came from Ireland via Martin Oliver, and liked him as soon as I saw the stride on him.”

The horse was a close second at both Cheltenham and Stratford in 2019 but has had issues since, as John admitted.

He had ulcers two years ago and last season was affected by Covid – he was only 80% fit when he won at Garthorpe. David and his wife Imogen – who gives him laser treatment – have done an amazing job,”

said the owner. Plans for the rest of the season include a return to Cheltenham for the Ineos Grenadier Mixed Open series final and, asked about future targets, John was cagey.

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Could we go for a Foxhunters? We ask ourselves that every year but, although David’s convinced Aintree would suit him, I’m not sure I’d want to put him through that.”

Dale Peters initiated his double on Byorderofthecourt, who he trains himself, in the Tattersalls Cheltenham Maiden Race for four- and five-year-olds, in which seven went to post, all of whom were unraced. Looking outstanding in the paddock, the Court Cave four-year-old, jointly owned by Dale, father Michael and Toby Hunt was always prominent and jumped better than his rivals, barring a slight mistake at the eighth. Headed by Purple Empora three out, he battled back to lead at the last and win by three lengths. Vendant made late progress for twenty lengths third.

James King winning the Oriental Club race on Ahead Of The Game
James King winning the Oriental Club race on Ahead Of The Game

We bought him for £20,000 at the Doncaster Sales,”

Toby told me.

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Dale fell in love with him straightaway and the plan was always to come here, because we knew it would be a good race. I’ve had terrible luck this season and thought getting him into the paddock would be an achievement. I didn’t even back him.”

The plan now is to send Byorderofthecourt to the Cheltenham sales at the end of the month and Toby confirmed,

We’ve got a few young horses – three to run all being well, although Dale doesn’t rush his youngsters.”

Dale said afterwards,

He never came off the bridle today. I’ve been pleased with everything he’s done since the day we broke him in and he’s been working with some nice older horses, although you don’t always know what you’ve got – the likes of G & T Racing and Station Yard racing have got so many more young ones than us. I’m happy with the way the season’s going and the horses are running well.”

David Kemp’s second winner was Ballinagore in the six-runner Lodders Maiden Race for six-year-olds and over. In the first three throughout in the hands of Luke Scott, the seasonal debutant joined leader and odds-on favourite, Wireless Operator, six out before taking the outright lead at the penultimate fences and scoring by an easy 15 lengths. Carry On Buddy was a never dangerous twelve lengths third.

He’s had a few problems – including a fractured splint – that have delayed his reappearance and the last two shortened seasons haven’t been ideal,”

David admitted.

He’s always shown ability and I used to think he was better than How To Get Away. I think he’ll progress now and we’ll look for a Restricted – he’ll run again this season.”

Chris Jones, who heads the Oak Partnership who owns the winner, laughed,

David’s paid to talk – I’m not! Seriously, we’ve taken him steadily as he’s had problems but he’s well-bred and he fell when in control here last season. He jumped well and Luke gave him a lovely ride – I’d never met him before and it’s nice to give a young lad a chance.”

Luke had never ridden for the Kemp yard and told me,

Dale Peters put me in for the ride and David rang me during the week. He gave me a great spin and there wasn’t a single moment I didn’t think we’d win – he was on the bridle until the last.”

It was a fourth winner of the campaign for 19-year-old Luke, who is based with Tom Weston and he described his season as,

Steady, but starting to pick up. It’s nice to be riding for good connections.”

David was denied a treble when his aforementioned How To Get Away, also owned by the Oak Partnership and favourite for the opening Farol Conditions Race, was second to the Bradley Gibbs trained and ridden Fier Jaguen. Six ran and Bradley sent Fier Jaguen to the front straightaway. Jumping well, he maintained an advantage of a few lengths throughout the race and was unextended to win by 12 lengths from How To Get Away, who never looked likely to land a blow. Loughan, rear early, went third at the last and finished a further two lengths behind the favourite.

Bradley’s partner Claire Sherriff explained the reason for Fier Jaguen’s poor performance at Kingston Blount last time,

That wasn’t him at all – he barely got over the last. He finished 40 lengths behind Latenightfumble – he’d beaten the same horse easily at Chaddesley Corbett. We gave him a tracheal wash and found his blood was wrong, so we put him on antibiotics and it’s taken a month to get him right. I don’t think we’ll go to Cheltenham for the Intermediate final,”

continued Claire about the seven-year-old.

We might take him to Chepstow for the Dunraven Bowl if he comes out of this alright. He’s definitely an Open horse. He’s got plenty of speed and we think he might be best short of three miles, but he’s still young.”

Bradley confirmed Claire’s verdict about the horse’s problems since his last run and added, “

He got very wound up in his box that day too. He’s difficult to handle at home – he likes to have his own way – so I ride him myself every day.”

He was complimentary about the ground, saying,

They’ve done a nice job on it. It’s Good across the top and Good to Soft coming down the hill.”

Rarely does a Mollington meeting go by without Tom Ellis and Gina Andrews getting on the score sheet and today was no exception, their Every Minute taking the Charles Stanley Restricted, which had 12 runners. Made odds-on favourite despite being beaten last time, the six-year-old was sent into the lead by Gina at the third, led his rivals a merry dance and jumped well, apart from a dreadful mistake when clear at the last. Despite that blunder, he won by 22 lengths – the widest margin of the day – from fast-finishing Hilnamix, who went past Whotheman on the run-in and passed the post two-and-a-half lengths in front of the third.

John Docker, one of the winning owners, told me,

He was bought as a replacement for Haymount and came from Ireland, where he’d been fourth in a bumper – the form of that has worked out well. He jumped superbly today – when he was beaten at Brafield-on-the-Green – he made a bad mistake three out, the winner pinged it and he was only beaten a head. He’s a big horse, still a bit novicey and will be better next year – we’d like to think he’ll make a good horse. I’ve no idea if he’ll run again this season – you’ll have to ask the trainer – but we wouldn’t run him on quick ground.”

It was a 35th victory of another superb season for Gina, and a 47th for trainer husband Tom, who looks on course to break the all-time record for winners trained in a season over Easter. Gina said afterwards,

He ran a bit flat last time but jumped very well today apart from the last. We haven’t made any plans for him yet – we’ll just take it a race at a time – but we hope he can go through the grades next year. Reflecting on Thursday’s Aintree success on Latenightpass, bred and owned by Tom’s mum Pippa, whose husband Tony is chairman of this meeting”

she added,

It’s just an absolute dream. He’d run well there last year and we purposely missed Cheltenham this time. He’s come out of the race fine, but that’s it for the season now and we’ll go back there next year.”

Four faced the starter for the Oriental Club Conditions Race, which went the way of James King, riding Ahead Of The Game in the colours of his late uncle, Jason Warner, who was champion owner last year and sadly passed away in November. The horse is now trained by Jason’s daughter, Marita Warner-King, and his long-term partner – Sue King – who was present on Saturday with Marita and her sister Rhonda busy preparing for their local point-to-point at Andoversford the next day. Held up in last by the champion jockey, the progressive eight-year-old quickened to second four out, led at the next and was comfortable in front thereafter, winning by an easy six lengths from First Drift, with Storm Lantern twelve lengths third.

An emotional Sue – helped by Harvey Barfoot-Saunt, whose father Geoff rode Mister Dick to victory recently at Cotley in the Warner colours, and Martin McIntyre – admitted afterwards,

I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous, as it’s the first time I’ve brought the horse without the girls. We’re still doing this because of Jason and the more wins we have, the better. He’d have loved this. As well as Marita and Rhonda, I’d like to thank Tallulah, who rides Ahead Of The Game at home every day.”

James said,

Winning in these colours means a lot – every time I put them on, it’s special. Credit to Sue and the team, they’ve done a great job with this horse. That’s my fourth win on him now and I’ve thought he was a fast improver since he bolted up at Higham last year. The key is to drop him out and switch him off.”

As for plans, James would say only,

I speak to Sue and her daughters every Friday to try to find races for their horses, but we won’t go to the well too often with him.”

All runners carried the name of owner-trainer Robert Waley-Cohen’s Upton Viva Stud – less than five miles from Mollington as the crow flies – on their number cloths and the biggest cheer of the day came after racing when Robert’s Noble Yeats, ridden by his son Sam on his fairy-tale finale, took the Grand National. Robert and Sam have enjoyed plenty of success at their local track over the years, including a memorable four-timer here in 2014. We wish Sam a happy retirement after a stellar career in the saddle.

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Author: Suzanne Ashton Founder, Everything Horse email: sashton@everythinghorseuk.co.uk

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