POINT TO POINT
Scrapper scours the smaller tracks for some value
Congratulations to former point-topoint rider Nico de Boinville for a tremendous ride on Coneygree at Cheltenham. Two years earlier, I guess, he’d have been watching the Gold Cup on the TV while phoning around for weekend spare rides at Hackwood Park.
HORSEHEATH 28TH FEBRUARY
Walking the course before racing I was pleasantly surprised at how well the track had been put back together following the very muddy meeting here a fortnight ago. The groundstaff had done a magnificent job getting it so level.
After all the recent rain the going was extremely testing. The first race had to be delayed by 10 minutes while an ambulance was extracted from the glue.
It turned out to be a memorable day for the Andrews family with all three siblings riding a winner. There were many prepared to bet the feat had never been achieved before, in fact this was the third time in the last seven years.
Sixteen-year-old Jack has not found it easy following in his sisters’ footsteps, both Gina and Bridget have been crowned ladies champions. The girls rode winners on their first day; Jack has taken just under a year and has had 26 goes to chalk one up.
The elusive first winner came in the opening event, the four runner Club Members.The youngster held up Heads Or Tails last of the quartet, waiting for the climb to the line before picking off his rivals one by one.
The winning owner, Mr C Myers, was asked in a post race interview what future plans he had for his horse. He replied charmingly “I’ll give him an apple in the morning!”
As she went out to ride in the second race I spoke Bridget “I bet your brother’s pleased?”
Beaming, she answered, “Oh yes, he and mum are delighted, he’s tried so hard. What ever happens now it’s made my day!”
What happened next was she rode the winner, confidently steering See You Jack home in the PPORA Members. It capped a phenomenal week for Bridget, her fifth consecutive winner, the middle three coming under rules.
Todays task was made a lot easier after main rival Shillingstone made a monumental rick at the first fence. He left behind a very lengthy skid mark, the like of which you’d normally find in the middle lane of the M25.
Elder sister Gina landed the Andrews treble by taking the Restricted on Remarkable Man. A recent purchase from across the water the gelding has won two in the last two weeks, both here. He’s not beaten too many finishers so he may be underrated in the near future, but he’s very likeable.The victories have come in very deep ground, strangely when racing previously in Ireland he was campaigned almost exclusively on quick ground. It will be interesting to see how he performs when it stops raining.
The Andrews clan kindly left some silverware on the table for others. As the runners were read out for the Ladies Open punters very quickly realised they had been set a very straightforward conundrum. Lump on or take on Swift Counsel? Ratings had him about 20lb clear of his rivals and he had only had his colours lowered once in points. But he was returning from a 20 month break and is now fourteen.
The bettors went to the parade ring to find the veteran looking clear paddock pick, they then turned with great haste and hit the bookies.The old boy went off the 2/5 favourite. It was soon apparent neither the absence nor the advancing years had tempered his enthusiasm. Running and jumping exuberantly he stretched the field along the back, turning downhill towards the fifth last the advantage had become ten lengths and was growing, then suddenly, unexpectedly his rider Jane Williams was on the deck, unseated. There was a distinct delay in the crowd’s reaction, he’s never made a mistake in points, always fluent, never touches a twig. Nobody saw this coming, including Williams I’d venture.
This left Life Long to beat, in truth, not a lot. He’d spent the race jumping awkwardly right handed, rider Faye Conway
constantly tugging on the opposite rein. He can ill afford to repeat such errancy if he wants to follow up in this grade.
After the Men’s Open I found myself in a very small minority regarding Paddy Gerety’s triumphant ride. No, I’ll type that again. After the Men’s Open I found myself alone regarding Paddy Gerety’s triumphant ride. Everybody else thought it was a superbly judged display, delivering Mr Mercurial (2/5f) in front over the last. I was of the opinion he sat too far off of the pace and was fortunate the race fell in his lap. Five from home he was conceding a dozen lengths to the two leaders, here Will Fight gave the obstacle an almighty clump leaving Gunmoney in front much, much sooner than his pilot, John Russell, had intended. Not even Gunmoney’s nearest and dearest would call the handsome gelding a battler; those not so near and not so dear have often called him a bottler. Out on his own, the hill started to look steeper and the ground began to feel deeper and I thought he waited for a bit of company to come home with.
There was a quite scintillating performance in the closing race, the Maiden. All afternoon we’d witnessed horses crossing the finishing line blowing for tugs at best, legless at worst, then on
Two years earlier, NICO would have been watching the Gold Cup on TV while phoning around for weekend spare rides
Fearthedark (A VaughanJones) winner of the Open Maiden at Horseheath
Men’s Open - winner Mr Mercurial (P Gerety) at Horseheath