Albi Tufnell is enjoying a memorable novice season, courtesy of his mother Jane's Captain Cattistock, winner of a race at Cheltenham's Hunters' evening three weeks ago, and he must have thought another was on the cards this afternoon when he took up the running to assert himself on the Crudwell Cup at Warwick a full seven fences from home.
A forceful ride had the pairing still in the lead as they met the last, but Gina Andrews and Sugar Run had other ideas, joining them and going on to win by a length in one of the more competitive hunter chases of the post Cheltenham period. Third placed Southfield Royale, ridden by Lily Bradstock was a further 9 1/2l back in third.
It wouldn't be any surprise to see all three reappearing at Stratford's Hunters' meeting on Friday May 28, which boasts the most valuable collection of hunter chases in the UK calendar, and a final swansong for our top flight hunters before being put out to grass for the summer.
Albi, working for Fergal O'Brien in a gap year, is enjoying a purple patch since winning an amateurs' chase at Sandown in December. Three wins under Rules from 9 rides leaves him an admirable strike rate worth all those early mornings and incessant ribbing in the yard.
For ardent followers of racing of a certain age, Crudwell, of the eponymous race, will be fondly remembered. Trained by Frank Cundell on the Lambourn downs, he was the sort of racehorses one dreams about. Fift wins, a further 32 placed efforts in 108 races over ten years tells a story of consistency and soundness all too rare among today's thoroughbreds, and includes a memorable Welsh National under Dick Francis in the Spring of 1956, just 10 days after Francis had endured the last 100 yards "fall" of Devon Loch.
In my days as Clerk and Manager at Warwick, I inherited a basement bar named after the great horse. I really think he deserved better!
Richard Phillips is making up for lost time after an abysmal season, and recorded his second winner since the beginning of the month with bumper winner Pop Mistress at Southwell this evening. The swings of fortune wax and wane for every trainer and rider each season; for every runaway success, there's someone else who hasn't done so well. There's little wrong with the Phillips set up at Adlestrop, so it's good to see some success headed his way once again.
Going for Sunday April 3 - Good (Thursday)
6m SE Cheltenham, nr junction of A40 and A436 (Exit 11A, M5)