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Everyone's in the winners this weekend

04-March-2024 17:22
in General
by Peter McNeile

After snow at Didmarton once again put paid to the late-starting West Mercian Point-to-Point season, it was left to Kim Bailey to fly the flag for the county when Does He Know outstayed Some Scope in an attritional Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster on Saturday. 

For a senior of the training fraternity nearer to retirement than starting out, the ever-youthful Bailey continues to roll out high class winners. The glory years of Alderbrook and Master Oats are a distant but happy memory, and yet there the Foxcote yard near Andoversford still houses 5 horses rated over 140, amomng which Does He Know at 159 is not even top-rated.

Ten runners set out in the 3m 2f Grimthorpe, a well-established Grand National trial. The soft ground had already reduced the field by three, but when the leaders set sail for home, the remainder of the field downed tools. David Bass on Does He Know took it up 6 out and stretched the rest of the field, with Gloucetsershire neighbour Some Scope from Richard Hobson's yard, in pursuit. Despite receiving 24lbs, he couldn't lay a glove on the top weight. 

Does He Know is not entered for the Aintree marathon, but will line up for the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter on March 16th. 

Also successful on the same card was Sunday Soldier, an 11th winner of the term for David Killahena and Graeme McPherson, now uncoupled from the partnership with Fergal O'Brien and fielding runners under their own steam. the 6 year old mare has been responsible for 4 of those 11 winners, enjoying consective successes at Musselburgh (twice) and Sedgefield since December. 

Not to be outdone, the county's top performer, Ben Pauling, concluded the card with handicap hurdle winner Densworth, the second leg of a cross card double following the earlier success of Personal Ambition in the Grade II Premier Novices Hurdle at Kelso. 

And no self-respecting news update would be remiss without a winner for Fergal O'Brien. Highland Hunter, who holds multiple entries at Cheltenham, as well as the Midlands Grand National, was a competent winner of a Veterans chase at Newbury, securing winner number 87 for the Ravenswell team.

Didmarton will try again on March 9th. Not so the Croome & West Warks at Shelfield park on March 16th, where the February rains have put paid to any chance of readying the course.

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4m SE Cheltenham, nr junction of A40 and A436 (Exit 11A, M5)


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