The closing Open Maiden at Andoversford each year is generally not a race for which you'd delay departure from Andoversford, but it is taking higher ranking on the back of a second Rules graduate in as many years, following the win this week of Eurobot, winner of the race under Gina Andrews for Tom Ellis in Spring 2018.
Eurobot is exactly the type of horse British Pointing is trying to nurture. Sent to the Aintree sale the following month, he was sold to Ireland and ended up a £100,000 addition to the O'Leary stable. Earlier this week, he won comprehensively on only his second outing over fences under Rules at Thurles for Noel Meade.
In 2016, this same race saw the entree of Poetic Rythmn from Fergal O'Brien's, a comprehensive 25l winner on the day. Poetic Rhythm went on to win a Listed Bumper, the Grade II Persian War Hurdle at Chepstow and the Grade I Challow after Christmas in a glittering Novice career that was only slightly marred when well beaten in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival.
The quality of Novice horses from a new generation of professional horse copers bringing on British-bred youngsters is undoubtedly on the up. And if the fields in Maiden races for the first few fixtures of this interrupted new season are anything to go by, the trend of fresh quality to graduate to Rules is likely to increase. The Midlands, with the likes of Tom Ellis, Phil & Mel Rowley, Fran Nimmo and others, is a hub of excellence which augurs well for the quality of the sport we enjoy.
As if to underline the point, recent Kimble winner Ahoy Senor proved the pick of the Brits when Goffs UK held its inaugural November P2P Sale at Yorton Stud near Welshpool in Powys last Thursday.
Owned and bred by Don Constable, five-year-old Ahoy Senor, an imposing son of Dylan Thomas, was knocked down to Kinross trainer Lucinda Russell for £50,000. Russell, who was at the auction with her partner Peter Scudamore, said: “He’s a lovely, staying chasing type, and he could not have been more impressive in his point-to-point. He’s probably the first British pointer I’ve bought, but he’s just the sort of horse we like to buy.
“He’s been bought on spec and is for sale [to stay in the yard]. He’ll go through our pre-training session and then should be ready to run, probably in a bumper, just after Christmas.”
Such was the success of this new specialist Point-to-Point sale that Goffs plan a repeat exercise next month. Goffs UK Managing Director Tim Kent, a Gloucestershire-born graduate to the bloodstock world, commented, "We received strong feedback from vendors that they wanted to sell at a traditional sale held at a proven National Hunt venue and offer horses to a UK market, so it made sense to add another date to enable this sector to continue to trade their horses during this busy autumn period."
Kent added: "We were delighted to sell six horses for £100,000 or more and we look forward to working with vendors to create a similar market at Yorton next month.’’
Although Andoversford is staged at the wrong time of year, how long will it be before the Select sale concept pioneed at Cheltenham is mirrored at a Point-to-Point in the UK?
Any takers, anyone?
Sunday April 11 First race 2.15pm Subject to Covid restrictions
6m SE Cheltenham, nr junction of A40 and A436 (Exit 11A, M5)