REPORT – Berks & Bucks and Staff College & RMAS Draghounds – Kingston Blount – Sunday 25th May 2014

 

By Andrew Norman

 

Alan Hill increased his advantage at the head of the Connolly’s Red Mills Trainers Championship by saddling a treble at the Berks & Bucks and Staff College & RMAS Draghounds at Kingston Blount on Sunday.

The first leg of the trio was a turn up for the books as Ravethebrave, under Hannah Watson, denied the Rose Loxton-trained Gwanako of an eighth straight victory in the Ladies Open. With the pair well clear of the remainder, the winner showed the better finishing speed and galloped clear approaching two out to score by eight lengths.

The runner-up was tasting defeat for just the third time in nine starts between the flags and Hill was also responsible for the first of those, with his Description mastering the gelding back in 2012.

The owner/trainer’s son Joe, regular rider of the son of Rashar, said: “Gwanako had only been beaten by Byerley Bear this season. Ravethebrave clocked a faster time than Byerley Bear carrying a stone and a half more at Badbury Rings in February, so I knew we must have a chance.”

“We planned to sit in behind and let Hannah – who’s given him a peach – decide when to go. He seems to love his Pointing at present so could run again at Bratton Down or Umberleigh.”

The success secured the South Midlands Lady Riders Title for Hannah Watson, while her mount was crowned top horse in the area this season.

The second Hill winner was the first half of a double for rider James Tudor on the afternoon. A powerful driving finish saw the rider galvanise the frustrating Earl Grez to a second career triumph in the Restricted. Partnering the nine-year-old for the first time, the winner appeared to be booked for third place turning for home but leaders Milan Nua and Blue Benny (eventual third and fourth) emptied quickly and were claimed close home in a blanket finish.

The third-placing of Milan Nua secured rider Katy Lyons the Area Novice Riders Title.

Tudor and Hill again combined in the Open Maiden was the nine-year-old Rogue Dancer coasted to a facile success on his debut between the flags.

Hill, who later in the afternoon collected the prize for the Leading Trainer in the Area, said of the Dark Moondancer gelding: “He was my nap of the day and I told all the locals they could have as much as they wanted on him. I’m not sure he’s beaten much though.”

An exemplary round of jumping enabled One Wish to dominate his five rivals in the Intermediate. The ten-year-old made all under Sam Davies-Thomas, who put the Gentleman Area Riders Title to bed before making a quick dash to Dingley for a ride in the last.

The winner jumped noticeably better than disappointing odds-on third Tiger Rag, who must improve in that department if he continues his progression in this sphere.

Winning trainer Chris Loggin said of the son of Presenting: “Jumping was the key without a doubt. Sam schooled him on Friday in blinkers and he seemed to concentrate better so we switched from the usual cheek pieces. It certainly didn’t do any harm. He was in at Huntingdon on Tuesday but after walking the course last night and given the forecast, a decision was made to come here for better ground.”

Owners Richard and Margaret West added: “We were bored of being second [last three runs] so it’s great he’s managed to win one. We’d like to run him again but I don’t know if Chris’s box will get to Devon!”

Former high-class chaser New Alco, a winner at the track a fortnight earlier, repeated the feat in the Mens Open. The winner, under Max Kendrick, jumped well and controlled the tempo, with victory never looking in doubt.

Trainer Sarah Case said: “He’s electric over a fence. He may have come on a bit from his last run as he’s an older horse. A trip to Devon or Cornwall is a possibility in the short-term, but he’ll definitely be campaigned again next season.”

Runner-up Ned The Post continued his fine record at the track, which now reads 111212.

Lucky Lane provided rider Dr Elizabeth Smee with her first ever winner in the six-runner Hunt Members, an affair containing four horses trained by Phillip York.

The nine-year-old, who gave Smee, an anaesthetist from Horsley near Guildford, a great spin at Cheltenham last month, was having his eleventh start of a long campaign.

A delighted Smee said: “I’ve been second a couple of times on him this season but to have my first winner is absolutely fantastic. I take no credit for getting to the front when we did - he was fed up with where he was. I was nervous at the finish as he spooked a bit and it would have been highly embarrassing had I fallen off!”