Latest News

Red letter day for the Three Counties

12-December-2020 19:55
in General
by Peter McNeile

When luck is running with you, it's always advisable to make the most of it, and although there's plenty to be despondent about in the racing parish, focusing on the well-being of all the professional trainers in the county would be enough to cheer you up from the deepest depression. 

The importance of Cheltenham has been a topic of conversation recently, with some wishing to knock its overriding importance to the sport. The simple reality for every owner and trainer, never mind riders, is that the growth of Cheltenham these past 30 years to its unassailable position at the head of the sport has encouraged others to raise their game. The money flowing into the sport through prices paid for bloodstock, prize money at the top, and even for modest mid week feature handicaps at entrepreneurial racecourses like Ludlow and Newton Abbot is commendable.  

And the spotlight that ITV throws upon the sport from its contracted coverage, and latterley, through adding additional days to amuse lockdown homeowners wanting something to watch, is invaluable. Ask any trainer if a winner on TV offers more exposure than on RacingTV, and the answer is an unequivocable yes. Small wonder Point-to-Point courses have worked out how to stream their fixtures to grow their audience. 

This weekend's cards at Cheltenham, Dioncaster and Hereford illustrated however, just how strongly the sport is supported across Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Hereford. Of Saturday's 21 National Hunt races at Cheltenham, Dincaster and Hereford, no less than 12 were won by trainers based within the Three Counties. And if some might consider that not so surprising for Hereford, the other two fixtures staged races that drew runners from all over the UK. 

At Cheltenham, Jonjo O'Neill did what he does best, winning a valuable handicap chase with a horse nicely weighted at the bottom of the handicap; Worcestershire's Tom Symonds, enjoying a blistering late autumn, notched a cross card double with Song For Someone in the International Hurdle - surely the race of the weekend - and Innisfree Lad under Rex Dingle in the Conditional Riders race at Hereford; Tom Lacey's foru runners, split between Doncaster and Hereford ran up a double at Doncaster, a second and a third; Fergal O'Brien, rattling toward £500,000 in prize money already, enjoyed Pattern success at Doncaster with staying chaser Hurricane Harvey, and is set, all things  being equal, to better his personal best in numbers and money won before Christmas; not to be outdone, the other Andoversford trainer, Kim Bailey, also kept his tally moving with Rocky's Treasure (pictured below) in Doncaster's televised finale.

There were winners too for Ben Pauling, Venetia Williams, Graeme McPherson and Nigel Twiston-Davies. 

Meantime, as the Point-to-Point season accelerates away from its lockdown stoppage, big fields are the order of the day. A 10 race card of young horses bodes well for some new stars at Barbury at Sunday's International fixture, where live streaming will allow a wider audience to see the quality on offer between the flags nowadays.

Event details








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


Buy your tickets now

Our Sponsors