REPORT – GRAFTON POINT-TO-POINT AT WHITFIELD (SUNDAY 18TH MAY 2014)

 

By Andrew Norman

 

Sussex trainer Georgie Howell ended a seven-year winning drought in style on Sunday as she saddled a double for daughter Tabitha Worsley at the Grafton Point-to-Point at Whitfield.

Ten-year-old Sitting Back, having his 32nd career start, was an easy winner of the Open Maiden before eleven-year-old mare Shropshirelass scored for the first time in four years in the PPORA Club Members Conditions. Stationed at Copthorne, just east of Gatwick Airport, the pair were Howell’s first winners since homebred Billie Bay won the Open Maiden at Catsfield in April 2007.

Howell, who only has three horses in training, said: “It’s remarkable for two winners to come along at once after such a long wait! We’ve had lots of placings in the meantime but it’s very satisfying to train a horse to win for Tabitha. She smashed her collar bone at Charing in April and has been watching box sets for the past month while I’ve been grinding away! The ground was key to both winners today. The mare doesn’t really stay but jumps really nicely and will soon be off to stud.”

Winning rider Worsley, who doubled her career tally and in turn surrendered her novice status for next season, is off to the University of Birmingham in September to study Sports and Exercise Science.

Cutlass Silver returned to form to win the Ladies Open for the second year running under Clare Wills. Benefitting from fast ground, the ten-year-old quickened four out to leave her rivals toiling at the sun-drenched Northamptonshire track. Owner Steven Astaire, explained her revival stating: “We’ve been waiting for ground like this all season as she wouldn’t win a walkover on soft ground. Hopefully she’ll go to Bratton Down as I’ve already booked my B & B!”

Chris Loggin, who trains the mare four miles from the course at Hinton-in-the-Hedges, modestly said: “We were lucky the ‘division one’ horses stayed away” although such was the dominance of his charge, she would have taken some stopping in this form. “Clare was sensible at Cheltenham last time and didn’t ask her a question she couldn’t answer,” he added.

The victory rewarded Loggin after his One Wish just failed in a valiant attempt to make all in the Intermediate under Sam Davies-Thomas. The ten-year-old was locked in an exciting tussle with David Brace’s raider Bringinthebranston and, after the lead changed three times, Tom David galvanised his mount to prevail.

Robbie Llewellyn, assistant trainer to Brace, said of the six-year-old son of Generous: “We decided to come here as he likes this better ground and he’s not really had these conditions since he won at Badbury Rings. Whitfield is a lucky track for us as it’s the third time we’ve been and had winners. We’re swapping jockeys for our other runner [Fireing Pin, Open Maiden] as Tom is rushing off to Garthorpe with James [Tudor] doing the opposite and coming here!”

Davies-Thomas gained compensation in the Restricted aboard Soupcon D’Albain. The rider controlled the pace to perfection, allowing the striking grey to supplement his maiden score here last month by making all.

Trained near Towcester by Louisa Wain, Roger Brown’s eight-year-old is now the South Midlands Area’s Leading Horse while Davies-Thomas leads the Riders Championship. The rider also claimed the Colin Gee Memorial Trophy, awarded to the top rider at Whitfield this season.

“He faded at Mollington last time and that was probably a combination of the track being too stiff and it being too soon after winning here just a week earlier,” said Jackie Owen, mother of winning owner Brown.

Owen, owner of Drombeg West, twice a winner over hurdles this season for Anna Brooks, earlier in the afternoon saw her trainer’s daughter, Emily, land the Hunt Members race with Darby’s Turn. The 12-year-old, one of three previous course winners on the afternoon, came home unchallenged.

Owner/trainer/rider Brooks, guiding the gelding to his third straight success, said: “He can maintain a strong pace and has a nice turn of foot but I had to give him a couple of reminders when we were clear as he was dossing! He’s in great form so might go to Kingston Blount next week.”

The Timothy Eades-trained The Magherally Man walked over the Mens Open.