Thursday, January 16, 2014
The rain did its best to spoil the afternoon at Black Forest Lodge, but not before two of the best point-to-pointers in the country had clashed in the Bonham’s Men’s Open, writes Granville Taylor.
The prolific Warwickshire gelding Penmore Mill was taken on by Cheshire based What A Laugh, who had finished runner up in last year’s prestigious Lady Dudley Cup before a hunter chase success at Aintree.
This classy duo provided the crowd with a race to savour. Tom Ellis had Penmore Mill in the firing line as early as the sixth fence and was chased by What A Laugh throughout the final mile. Penmore Mill held a slender lead rounding the final bend and kept on strongly despite being pressed all the way to the judge. “He had to prove he was a good horse to go to the (Cheltenham) Foxhunter and did so today,” remarked owner Ken Hutsby, who added that a Musselburgh hunter chase is his next likely objective, “providing the ground is good.” The runner up ran a gallant race in defeat with jockey Josh Guerriero reporting that, “he will improve for the race.”
Byerley Bear justified strong favouritism to capture his third Ladies’ Open in four weeks, this time with Leanda Tickle in the saddle. This tough and consistent nine-year-old jumped well to hold the late flourish of last year’s winner Mobaasher. Byerley Bear’s trainer Robert Chanin enjoyed a treble on this card last season and went on to repeat the feat this time. “The original plan for Byerley Bear was a Newbury hunter chase but he was bucking and kicking after being turned out after his Wadebridge win (seven days ago)”, said the trainer.
Welstonedruid had set the Chanin ball rolling in a match for the hunt race, ridden by Robert’s son Ian who is now assistant trainer to Nick Williams in North Devon. Owners Andrew and Sue Knox have a nice staying prospect in Welstonedruid, who had won his maiden on this track last year. “He is a progressive horse who doesn’t show much at home but is different in a horse race,” explained the trainer, who went on to saddle his sixth winner of the season from seven runners when Ned White won the Intermediate.
This time it was Tom Chanin in the saddle, pushing his mount clear entering the final circuit to score by 20 lengths from Ladfromhighworth in driving rain.
A field of 15 faced the starter in the first Open Maiden which saw Jo Buck ride her third winner of the season on Best Bide Quiet. Jo is edging towards her half century of pointing winners, and gave a confident ride to this improving six-year-old who appreciated every yard of this trip. “He was a bit weak last year but we always thought he was a nice horse,” confided Lisa Jefford, who shares ownership with her trainer husband Leslie alongside Leslie’s father David and Stewart Bradley.
The second division of the Maiden had to be split on the day with the times becoming progressively slower as the rain set in. Honours Insight gave 22-year-old Steve Croft his first winner in the first part. Steve gave a fine ride to this sturdy Milan gelding, trained by Camilla Scott for the aptly named Cash for Honours syndicate. The Liverpool born jockey said, “he blew up and galloped on. I have had 11 rides and worked for the Scott’s for four years. I look after Honours Insight as well as Melodic Rendezvous in the same ownership.
Cashwell put up an astonishing performance to win the other division ridden by Stratford Upon Avon based Will Telfer. This Steve Flook trained gelding had been off the track for nearly two years after showing only modest form over hurdles for Nigel Twiston-Davies. The seven-year-old set up an enormous lead before half way and never looked like being caught despite a few sloppy jumps. Connections have a Leicester hunter chase in mind.
It would not be Black Forest Lodge without a winner from Wales and the Llangeinor qualified Patricktom Boru obliged for Bridgend owner/trainer Roger Willcox in the 14-runner Restricted. Evan David sent his mount to the front after the final ditch and was not hard pressed to hold promising efforts from Soul Native and The Crazy Crab.