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Pinchin and Bridgwater take the plaudits before the weather takes a hand

11-December-2022 18:42
in General
by Peter McNeile

Cheltenham deserved some plaudits rather than brickbats for allowing Friday's card to run, even though their efforts weren't enough to save the more valuable card on Saturday. To hear critics talking about a poor Friday card that featured a £70,000 handicap chase smacked of vested interests. Racecourses are under obligation to race if they can under the Rules. You can't decide you fancy one day over another. 

But the weather shutdown took some of the focus away from a terrific ride from Lilly Pinchin to get David Bridgwater back in the winning mood. The race was the C F Roberts Electrical & Mechanical Services Mares Handicap Chase, and the winning distance of just a neck over Ben Poste on Marta des Mottes, brought the day's closest finish. Two jockeys at the top of their game, in perfect rythmn and using the stick in the correct manner to get the maximum from their mounts. Given both trainers are within our geographical area, it seemed a shame there had to be a loser. 

Pinchin has really come of age this season, this being her 17th winner of the term. Her 3lb claim offers great value, and there are plenty of local trainers who have cottoned on to the fact, including Charlie Longsdon, Martin Keighley, David Jeffreys, Richard Hobson, both trainers in the photo finish and of course her employer, Fergal O'Brien. 

It's not much more than 5 years ago that Lilly was winning open races around Andoversford. She is an exemplar of the nursery that Pointing provides, feeding a back channel of riders into mainstream racing who have more than a modicum of race-riding experience. 

Dame du Soir's victory provided a welcome piece of limelight to Wyck Hill trainer David Bridgwater too. Thye last couple of years have not been especially kind to Bridgewater, operating in a fiercely competitive Gloucestershire market for owners and top flight horses. It seems only a few years ago that The Giant Bolster and The Conditional were catapulting him into big Saturday chases week in week out, but replacing those horses hasn't come easy. Wanting all our Gloucestershire trainers to excel falls some way short of them all competing successfully to get more than their share of the national appetite for racehorse ownership. 

Meantime, racing is all but halted, but the current bandwagon that is Ben Pauling hasn't hear the news. In the weekend's only surviving fixture at Southwell, he enjoyed a double to bring his seasonal score to 50. A bright ray of sunshine in what looks a bleak week for the sport between the flags and under Rules.

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