REPORT – THE WARWICKSHIRE AT MOLLINGTON – BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY 5TH MAY 2014

 

By Andrew Norman

 

It was an afternoon to remember for Upton Viva Stud at the Warwickshire Hunt Point-to-Point at Mollington on Monday as Sam Waley-Cohen rode a four-timer for father Robert.

“We’ve never even run four on the same day before, let alone had four winners!” said owner/trainer Robert Waley-Cohen, whose stables lie just eight miles from the course.

Storm Lantern guided the way in the F.N. Pile & Sons 4, 5, 6 & 7-Year-Olds Open Maiden over 2m5f. The five-year-old son of King’s Theatre, bred at Upton Viva, ran up the hill well for a comfortable six-length success. “I’m delighted with him,” said Waley-Cohen, “not many horses come second four times in Maidens… maybe we’ve finally worked out how to train him! He’s been on the go a long time for a five-year-old so that will do him for the season. I don’t think he’ll get three miles over fences so he might go novice hurdling. He’s a very nice youngster who will continue to strengthen up.”

2011 Grand National runner-up Oscar Time, having his first outing since finishing fourth in last year’s renewal of the Aintree showpiece, showed all his old enthusiasm in the Avonvale Veterinary Practice Confined Hunts Race. The classy thirteen-year-old enjoyed his debut between the flags, pressing on from three out before being eased down close home.

Winning his first race since December 2009, the fragile gelding appreciated this drop in grade but clearly retains plenty of ability and his trainer indicated this was not a retirement party: “He’s thoroughly enjoyed himself and it’s just wonderful to see him back. He picked up an injury in the National which healed but then suffered a stress fracture in his cannon bone so has had a very interrupted preparation. The game plan was to qualify him for Cheltenham but here we are having our first run in May! The future’s quite short when you’re thirteen-years-old so I don’t want to make any plans until we see how he is in the morning. It’s actually the first race he’s ever won for us although he’s collected over £250,000 in place money. Today he won £175!”

Fabulous Four - Sam Waley-Cohen celebrates a memorable day at the Warwickshire

 

Rumbavu signed off another fine campaign between the flags by taking the Buddy Lean Memorial Mixed Open for the second successive season – his fourteenth career victory. The eight-year-old son of Overbury outstayed his rivals in determined fashion under a typically strong Waley-Cohen ride.

Waley-Cohen Snr said: “He’s had another great season, winning a classic [Lord Ashton of Hyde’s Cup] and being placed in two others. He’s as tough and as consistent as Irilut, who won this race four times [2005, 2006, 2007, 2009]. Who’s to say he can’t emulate him?”

The final leg of the quadruple was won effortlessly by homebred debutant Mr Simpkins, a full brother to Graded Chase winner Rajdhani Express. The imposing six-year-old, who impressed in the jumping department, took up the Ray Randerson Carpets Open Maiden on the final circuit and cruised to an easy eight-length success.

The gelding is named after Waley-Cohen’s groundsman, Phil Simpkins, as the horse was born on his 60th birthday. “He has been getting very impatient saying it’s taking rather a long time to get my present on the racecourse!” joked the trainer, “we’ve waited simply because he’s a big, slow maturing, old fashioned sort – he’s 18 hands high. We schooled him with Oscar Time the other day and he had eight strides to Oscar Time’s nine. Super quick he’s not, but he’s got a very high cruising speed. Ultimately he’s a staying sort who’s made for fences. I’d like him to get his education in the Point-to-Point field and then go under rules if he proves good enough but I think he could be quite useful. The ambition is to have a homebred, home-trained, home-ridden winner at the Festival. He might be, just might be, the one. To win both Maidens with horses we’ve bred at home is absolutely great.”

Rider Sam Waley-Cohen reflected on his achievement: “To ride the whole yard (only four horses in training) to victory on one afternoon, especially here in front of the Warwickshire Hunt supporters, is very special. I’ve never ridden a treble before and certainly not a quadruple so it’s the perfect day. Oscar Time has been a great old friend and it was a pleasure to get back on him. Rumbavu jumps like a stag and Storm Lantern is slowly learning his trade. Mr Simpkins is a very different sort of horse to his brother, Rajdhani Express, but could make into something very smart. He showed a great attitude and I can’t help but get excited.”

Waley-Cohen Snr also commented on the team’s trip to Punchestown last week, where Long Run finished third in the Gold Cup and Aintree Fox Hunters’ Chase winner Warne filled out the same position in the Champion Hunters’ Chase: “We knew Warne doesn’t really stay 3m1f but he ran a great race to end the season. He’ll have exactly the same prep races next season before going back to Liverpool. It’s still undecided if Long Run will go to Auteuil [Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, May 18th]. He’s come out of Punchestown very well but it depends on whether the race is a quinté, which would rule Sam out of riding. They don’t decide until very near the time.”

Grand Exit heads the South Midlands Area Mares Championship for owner/trainer Sylvia Edmunds after a ten-length victory in the Sir James Shuckburgh Bt Restricted race.

The eight-year-old, narrowly denied here last month, looked to be losing the argument with favourite Soupcon D’Albain before her rival slowly faded into third allowing Sam Davies-Thomas to guide the winner home unchallenged.

Edmunds, who does well with her mares, year-in, year-out, said: “It was the May Day Fair in Weston today and with all the noise from the Morris Dancers and the brass band; she was getting very worked up in the barn. We’ve been lucky with her as for a cheap horse; she’s been very consistent and clearly likes it here. She’ll have an entry for the Grafton in a fortnight.”

In-form twelve-year-old Darby’s Turn posted the fastest time of the afternoon’s six three mile races when landing the Claydon Horse Exercisers PPORA Club Members Race for Novice Riders. The gelding missed last season through injury but Towcester-based owner/trainer/rider Emily Brooks has him in rude health at present. The partnership made the best of their way home from a long way out, repelling runner-up Basil Fawlty.

“I held on to him for as long as I could but he was out-jumping everything!” said Brooks, riding her fourth career winner (all on Darby’s Turn) and therefore losing her novice status for next season, “he can be quite fiery and seems to enjoy quicker ground. He’ll go for the Grafton Members race next.”

Tom Ellis maintained his position at the head of the South Midlands Area Gentleman Riders Championship after directing multiple Hunter Chase scorer Rash Move to a facile triumph in the Hunt Members race. The Fred Hutsby-trained veteran, owned by father and clerk of the course Ken, was recording a tenth career success and may reappear at Kingston Blount on Saturday.