Jake Slatter has shown he is able to improve almost every horse that enters his Toddington yard, but You’re the Man’s win in the Concierge Medical Open Maiden at Andoversford Races must rank as one of his best training performances, writes Pete Mansell.
The 7-year-old had failed to complete the course in four outings for Slatter and previous trainer Andrew Campbell, but the stature of the opposition did give connections some cause for optimism.
Sam Canning set off at a steady pace before being joined by the favourite Bespoke Cave at halfway and these two dominated the remainder of the race. The market leader had by far the best form with two recent placings but both of those were over 2-1/2 miles and that may be the limit of his endurance at present because the writing was on the wall as he began to lose touch at the bottom of the hill.
You’re the Man’s jumping became more reliable as the race progressed and he was able to extend his advantage over the final two fences to score a popular success for local owner Nigel Jackson.
This win provided some compensation to the trainer who lost stable star Ballyriver Boy on the gallops recently, but he was unable to provide an explanation for the horses improved performance, other than the weakness of the opposition.
The Ladies and Men’s Open provided close finishes with the favourites for both events beaten. Tb Broke Her started an odds on shot for the Martin & Co Ladies on the strength of her impressive win at Monmouth Showground 7 days earlier. Hannah Lewis had the mare anchored at the back of the field until making progress to take the lead at the final open ditch.
They held a useful lead over Chu Chu Percy and Well Mett down the back straight and Lewis quickened the pace as the runners began to climb up to the home straight. Tb Broke Her was never able to establish a race winning lead but was still a couple of lengths clear rounding the final bend.
Straightening up for the Judge the mares lead was diminishing whereas Josephine Banks and Well Mett were now getting into full stride. They had just over a length to make up on the run in but Well Mett is a seasoned campaigner and finished strongly to get up in the shadows of the post.
The 12-year-old carries the blue and cerise hoop colours of Pat Tollit, whose family have supported Point-to-Point Racing in the West Midlands since the 1930s, when they were carried by Mrs Tollit’s father Major Harold Rushton. The winner is trained by Tollit’s daughter Christine Banks and ridden by her granddaughter Josephine.
Later in the afternoon it was the turn of Christine’s sister Katherine Smith Maxwell (owner) and her daughter Alex Dunn (trainer) turn in the winners enclosure after How About It had scored aa hard-fought success in the Robert Hitchins Group sponsored Andoversford Grand Annual Chase.
Abricot de L’Oasis departed early while the favourite Sarazen Bridge and Nick Phillips went to the front at halfway and with four fences to jump still held a narrow lead over Premier Portrait and How About It.
John Smith Maxwell and How About It gradually began to inch clear of their rivals on the stamina sapping climb to the home straight and they turned back towards home with a good lead.
How About It had been in front for longer than normal and his concentration appeared to waver approaching the last and that required both physical and vocal encouragement from the rider. It worked, and despite Premier Portrait finding extra reserves in the closing stages they still had a half-length advantage as they passed the judge.
Andoversford plays to some horses strength and that was certainly the case with My Murphy who was last at half way and had to be pushed along to stay in contention at several stages of the opener, the Tayler and Fletcher 10 Year Olds & Over Conditions race.
Summer Sounds was attempting to win his fourth consecutive race but was harried for most of the contest by Sam Jukes on The Well Road and their fight for the lead may have contributed to his downfall. Having disposed of that rival’s effort they faced another challenge as Albi Tufnell and My Murphy began to eat into their advantage climbing the final hill.
The favourite was still clear turning for home but Tufnell’s mount cornered better than his rival and saved several lengths in the process and that probably turned out to be a race winning manoeuvre as My Murphy stayed on strongly in the closing stages to prevail by half a length.
This was a second success for the 17-year-old Radley College student, but “his first proper one” he said later as the first was gained as a result of a walk over at Gathorpe last season.
Naunton trainer Sally Randall sent out the first two winners when Matt and Sally Burford’s Cheltenham de Vaige followed up his stablemates opening race success in the Porsche Centre Tewkesbury Restricted race. This back to back double earned Sally the Brewin Dolphin Leading Trainer Award for the day, and a further cheque for £250.
Just two runners faced the starter with the Randall runner hot favourite on the strength of his Monmouth win. With a solitary opponent Hannah Lewis decided to race on her terms so the favourite was allowed to stride along in front but without taking too much out of himself.
Major Detail stayed in touch until they met the rising ground but then fell further behind which allowed the winner to score an impressive win without coming off the bridle.
Matthew Barber has returned to race riding this year after an 18 month break from the sport. He was a prolific visitor to the winner’s enclosure in the past and scored his first winner since his enforced absence by steering Jungle Legend to success for owner/trainer Claire Jones in the GX Land Rovers Intermediate race.
Going for Sunday April 3 - Good (Thursday)
6m SE Cheltenham, nr junction of A40 and A436 (Exit 11A, M5)