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Seconds away from a first double for amateur Leech

03-August-2023 9:22
in General
by Peter McNeile

The racing bug runs in families, which makes the achievement of those breaking in from outside a horsey family all the greater. In the parish of Jump racing, even internationally, connections count for a great deal.

And so it is that Roisin Leech, daughter of successful France-raiding trainer Sophie, ended up as stable amateur for Lucinda Russell, some 400 miles away from her home turf. Russell of course is partnered with Peter Scudamore, Herefordshire-born and bred, and now with a satellite yard at Bromyard, where the Scudamore clan has swapped places to improve their chances of southern raids. 

Roisin is a relative rarity among British amateur riders, who habitually cut their teeth on the Point-to-Point circuit alongside or before graduating to Rules company. A handful of rides between the flags in the 2020/21 season propelled her to larger races in the UK, but also in France, where her mother has frequent runners. But four rides in the past 12 months in France have not been enough.

The switch to Scotland had its first big test at yesterday's Perth fixture, with three rides, two for her new employer, one for her mother. And it was only by a whisker that she missed out on a double. 

When the chips are down, it's always good to be able to rely on one's mum. And so it proved in the Jock Meikle Handicap Hurdle over 3m. Possibly not the greatest quality staying hurdle in the world, but well supported with 9 runners. Even so, the official rating of 79 for winner The Longest Day may need revision, as Roisin lay handy throughout, took up the running 3 out and just needed to be shaken up to win comfortably by 2l at the line. A ticke in the box for the Leech family. 

Half an hour later, it was an altogether more dramatic end to the Auto Services Perth Handicap Chase over the same distance. Riding Castletown for the Russell stable, the young amateur looked set to collect, lying close up pretty much throughout, taking it up 2 out, and leading by some 9l at the last. But the wily Castletown, despite blinkers to sharpen him up, idled in front to such an extent he was caught close home and went down by 1/2l. A cruel denial. 

The winning trainer is another who knows something about family connections. Oliver Greenall did indeed cut his teeth on the Point-to-Point circuit, and with a father who was chairman of Aintree for some considerable time, a career with racehorses might have been inevitable. As a full-blooded licence holder, he is another of the younger generation making a name for himself, along with partner Josh Guerriero, the two of them friends from their riding days. 

There will be another time for the Leech-Russell axis to shine.

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