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Comley treble at Friars Haugh announces new Championship contender

12-February-2024 9:43
in General
by Peter McNeile

Whilst large swathes of the country have been under water during this wettest of winters, one stable has been going the extra yard to find winners, and it hails from deepest Cotswold country. 

Although fixtures in the West Mercian area have yet to take place (Knightwick's rearranged February fixture from November fell prey to the Teme bursting its banks last week), there's been action in the north, East Anglia and the South West, and the net has been thrown far and wide by Naunton's Max Comley, in a season that may well define his early training years. 

13 winners to date included a treble at Friars Haugh on Sunday, headed up by stable star Wagner in the Men's Open, notching up his fourth consecutive victory after downing none other than Sine Nomine at Ratcheugh in December, and subsequent wins at Wadebridge and Cocklebarrow. 

The treble opened with Jay Bee Whiskey, ridden by James King, in the 2m 4f Conditions race. Jay Bee Whiskey's campaign has virtually mirrored Wagner's, this also being his fourth consecutive winner. At 5/2 on however, no-one was getting rich backing him. 

Debutante rider Rhiannon Fletcher made her first ride a winning one on Oscar Montel in the Ladies Open, making the long drive back from the Borders all the more palateable. 

Comley has planted himself firmly in racing country, training from the disused Brockhill quarry above Naunton. Within 2 miles he can view the strings of Ben Pauling and Nigel Twiston-Davies, both enjoying excellent seasons. Rarely has Naunton been so well represented among winners at every level of the sport. 

And whilst for the time being, Tom Ellis looks unassailable at the top of the Trainers' Championship, Comley's strength in numbers and sound placement is likely to grow him owners and put him in contention for the future.

The Beaufort at Didmarton in three weeks' time will finally kick off the West Mercian season after aborted attempts at Chaddesley and Knightwick, and Comley is likely to play a strong hand.


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