A sweltering July Thursday afternoon is about as far removed from the Point-to-Point experience as you can imagine, but that hasn't stopped Cotswold-based trainers from capitalizing on the infrequent Jump racing fixtures taking place at this time of year, and Worcester, scenicly situated on the banks of the Severn, provided plenty of entertainment and success for our professional handlers yesterday.
Clapton-on-the-Hill handler Ben Pauling got the ball rolling in the opening handicap chase, winning this lowest grade handicap chase with novice 7 year old Rintulla, whose 7 runs in chases have been something of a curate's egg: a clutch of PU & Fs alongside running into the frame. Leading from the third in this 2m4f contest, he wasn't foot-perfect, and wandered off a true line after the last, but made it home by 1/12l from Alistair Ralph's Le Pogues Storm, who kept on gamely.
The extra 3 furlongs of the second handicap chase on the card proved no obstacle to Irish pointing graduate Oscar Montel, who attracted late money to go off 15/8 favourite for the Racing League on Sky Sports Racing Handicap Chase, and favourite backers were never needing to be nervous, as Brian Hughes steered the Charlie Longsdon - trained winner home by 8 1/2l. The winner is part-owned by a Stratford Racecourse owners' group, a growing trend in ownership where horses are syndicated to racecourse members or followers. If, or when, Oscar Montel turns out again, he looks likely to defy a penalty and win again.
The master of Jackdaws Castle, Jonjo O'Neill, is a wonderfully understated trainer, who always looks delighted and surprised when his horses finish in the winner's berth, even when they're well fancied. A master of reading the handicap, he enjoyed a vintage season, and the Jackdaws team is running well, with 16 winners chalked up already among the more modest prizes avalable over tthe summer. This time around, it was Nick Scholfield who brought home the bacon, earning his fee with a hard - fought 3/4l victory for Wasdell Dundalk over Fergal O'Brien's Castel Gandolfo in the Tayler & Hart British Gypsum Handicap Hurdle.
You can't keep the irrespressible O'Brien down for long nowadays though. He was in the small winner's enclosure at Worcester an hour later to greet Forthegreatergood in the maiden hurdle, a winning Irish Point-to-Point graduate who has been knocking on the door these past few runs for owner June Watts, the better half of Tim, eponymous Chairman of the Pertemps Network Group.
Meanwhile, Wessex - based Thomasina Eyston, who has enjoyed a clutch of winners between the flags, including a double at Didmarton 3 years ago, won her first race under Rules when Flow With Eve won the concluding amateur riders' handicap hurdle for Taunton handler Ben Lund.
Not to be done down, Graeme McPherson sent a runner to win on the flat at Sandown yesterday instead, coming home a winner with Andaleep in the 1m2f handicap.