Warner victory brings smiles all round
by Russell Smith
Andoversford's annual novice and veteran riders meeting is billed as a clash between youth and experience and it was certainly the latter that claimed the opening Hunt Members contest as Mister Dick took the honours under Geoff Barfoot-Saunt. Barfoot-Saunt is definitely among the elder statesmen of the point to point weighing room and he dominated proceedings from the front aboard the eventual winner - setting a sensible pace from the outset.
The ploy worked to perfection as Mister Dick had enough in reserve after the uphill climb for home to see off the attentions of 1-3 favourite Chu Chu Percy, who was partnered by teenager Fern O'Brien.
Taking into account the race was run in memory of the late Jason Warner, who was a huge supporter of pointing at Andoversford, it was very fitting that the winner is trained by his daughter Marita Warner-King and she was understandably delighted with the result. She said: "The horse was second in the corresponding race 12 months ago so it is brilliant to go one better as it remembers my father Jason and Mister Dick was actually one of his favourite horses.
"He acts on any type of ground depending on what sort of mood he is in but it was obviously a going day this afternoon and this represents a thoroughly poignant win for myself and all the family."
The Caroline Robinson-trained Dounikos is likely to be heading for the Lake District at the end of the month after the 12-year-old came with a well-timed run approaching the final fence of the Ladies Open to claim the spoils in the hands of Iola Hopkinson.
Robinson said: "There is a hunter chase at Cartmel in just over four weeks time and Iola has set her heart on going there so that's where Dounikos will be going as things stand." She added: "The horse is really enjoying himself at present and that is reflected in the way he is running. Iola has given him a beautifully judged ride as she got there at the right time to seal the victory."
Front-running Jaisalmer soon had his rivals on the backfoot in the Conditions contest as he and regular rider Lexie New made their intentions clear and were never seriously challenged before beating Jonjoela in comfortable fashion.
His trainer Sara Bradstock commented: "Jaisalmer does not really like other horses around him so he ops off in front and it's a game of catch me if you can and they couldn't. Lexie works in the yard at home and in these days where it is hard to find good staff it is great to give her the chance of winning rides - she got the tactics spot on there and made it all look very easy."
The decent ground on offer at the undulating Cotswolds circuit played to the strengths of Ask Nile after the 11-year old found what was required in the Conditions race (for eight year olds and over).
Given a stalking ride by Phil York, the gelding nipped past long time leader Belami Des Pictons on the run to the penultimate fence and had the prize in safe keeping from that point.
York said: "He has been struggling on the heavy going most of the season and this better conditions have helped him no end. It was probably about as soft as he really wants but we have got away with it ."
The biggest field of the afternoon proved to be in the Maiden when 10 went to post and it was the Robert Hawker-partnered Politicianspromise who came home in front.
Steady The Ship supplied Will Badlan with his first ever winner when wearing down long-time leader The Composeur to clinch the honours in the Men's Open.
Quote of the day
"He can win again If the sun actually manages to shine before the season ends" - Phil York after steering Ask Nile to victory.