Hunt racing returned to Redland Farm, Bonvilston in the Vale of Glamorgan for the first time since 2012, and organisers were rewarded with a huge attendance (writes Brian Lee).
It was the best at a point-to-point in the Wales area for many years.
There were 11 bookmakers in attendance – three more than usual – and the day’s riding honours went to 18-year-old Ben Jones from Carmarthen, who was landed his first ever hat-trick.
He took the Conditions race on Gun Shy, the Timico Mixed Open on Princely Player and the Restricted on Manhattan Mead.
Gun Shy scored by eight lengths from Bradley Gibbs’ mount Mr Sawyer and Jones told me: “He travelled well throughout.”
Successful owner-trainer, Tommy Faulkner from Chepstow was saddling his seventh winner of the season.
“He’s a tricky fellow to train, but all going well he will run at the Cheltenham Hunter Chase evening meeting next month,’’ said the former rider.
Princely Player, owned by The KP & Nuts Racing Club and trained by National Hunt trainer Peter Hobbs’s sister-in-law Karen Hobbs, drew clear two fences from home from the pacemaking Yeats Ace (Bradley Gibbs) to win by 10 lengths with the odds-on Hidden Charmer (Jack Tudor) a further 12 lengths away in third spot.
“He’s a sleepy sort, but stays all day ” said Jones, who had won on the 12-year-old at Hereford Racecourse earlier this month.
The third leg of Ben’s hat-trick came in the Restricted when the blinkered Manhattan Mead led at the last to beat the pacemaking Robbina (Jack Tudor) by one-and-a-half lengths.
Backed from 8-1 to 6-1, Manhattan Mead is owned by hunt-racing stalwart Gwynne Phillips and trained by former Welsh champion point-to-point rider Paul Hamer in Carmarthen.
Seven faced the starter for the Aged Maiden race and Welsh champion Bradley Gibbs, riding the eight-year-old Chase Me for Ledbury trainer James Ridley, finished 10 lengths ahead of the favourite Sam Dibien, trained by former leading Welsh National Hunt jockey Sam Thomas.
Gibbs, who received a phone call the night before the races offering him the ride, said: “The farther we went the better Chase Me jumped.”
Of the five horses that went to post for the Young Horse Maiden, the youngest of them, four-year-old the Tim Vaughan trained Loco CoCo, led approaching the penultimate fence and went on to win by one-and-a-half lengths from Gibbs’ mount Thomas Crown.
The Irish-bred Loco CoCo was ridden by Morgan Winstone, aged 18, who was chalking-up his first winner between-the flags. Morgan, who works for Tim Vaughan at nearby Aberthin, hails from Pontypool and has also ridden a winner under Rules.
In a match for the Hunt Members race, the eight-year-old Rio Bravo, owned by Miss Claire Sherriff and partnered by Gibbs, made nearly all the running and, despite jumping to the left, went on to win by 15 lengths from the odds-on Blazing Tom (Jack Tudor).
Rio Bravo is trained by Gibbs’ father David at Ynysbwl.
Members: Rio Bravo (Bradley Gibbs) evens fav.
Open Maiden: Chase Me (Bradley Gibbs) 11-4
Conditions: Gun Shy ( Ben Jones) 5-1
Timico Mixed Open:Princely Player (Ben Jones) 7-2
Restricted: Manhattan Mead (Ben Jones) 6-1
Open Maiden:Loco Coco (Morgan Winstone) 6-4 fav
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Welsh trainers and riders were in good form over the Easter weekend.
At Newton Abbot, Pembrokeshire’s Peter Bowen won the big handicap chase with Lord Bryan and Ogmore-By-Sea’s Christian Williams saddled Primal Focus, which won the earlier chase on the card.
Lord Bryan, owned, by Gwyn Brace and his daughter Jayne from the Vale of Glamorgan, was ridden by Sean Bowen and Primal Focus, at five the youngest horse in the race, was partnered by Nick Scholfield.
At Haydock, Bowen was successful with Minella Daddy who was partnered by his younger son James.
Twenty-four hours later at Ffos Las, Peter Bowen was back in the winners’ enclosure after winning the novices’ hurdle with Statuario and the handicap chase with Alf ‘N’ Dor and both were ridden by Sean Bowen.
Another trainer to land a Ffos Las double was Llancarfan’s Evan Williams. He took the opening mares’ handicap with the bottom weighted Mac Bella and the West Wales National Handicap with Pobbles Bay and both were ridden by stable jockey Adam Wedge.
Christian Williams’ Win My Wings easily won the maiden hurdle under Nick Scholfield, coming home 19 lengths ahead of the long odds-on favourite Volcano.