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North Ledbury at Hereford Racecourse
Sunday 7th April 2019
by Stella Havard

Dazzling North Ledbury Double For Brookshaw And Carver

Clerk-of-the-course, Derek Tyler was paid many compliments for the excellent going conditions at Hereford Racecourse for the North Ledbury Hunt meeting, despite the recent temperamental weather giving him a few headaches.

Shropshire handler, Heidi Brookshaw and jockey Bryan Carver certainly appreciated the work behind the scenes, enjoying a notable stable double with two very promising young performers. Salven, a 6 year-old 'proper big chasing type' made practically all the running in the Beacon Fuels Maiden race for 5,6 & 7-year-olds, cheered home by the Heidi Brookshaw Racing Syndicate. Runner up, Samdibien, having his first run over fences, had stalked the winner most of the way under a very accomplished debut ride for 'local boy' Will Gough for his boss, Sam Thomas, The first two had drawn well clear of the field, doubtless marked up in many a notebook.

The second leg of the Brookshaw/Carver team's double was even more impressive in the second division of the JRL Group Point-to-Point Flat Race for 4,5 & 6 year-olds. The 4- year-old You Too Bonny Lass positively sizzled clear tuning for home in the 2-mile event, cruising 27 lengths ahead of her nearest pursuer, Sing The Anthem (Jack Tudor). Owner Don Constable has been a maestro at buying young horses for many years, so his claim "She's the best I've ever had, nothing can live with her on the gallops," is not one made lightly. When asked if she, like so many promising youngsters, was heading for the sale ring, Don smiled and shook his head firmly. "I bought her as a yearling. I'm now 70 years old, and I might not ever find one as good again. I'll keep her, and perhaps we'll run her in a National Hunt bumper later on, we'll see."

The Timico Men's Open was a high-quality affair, and Alex Edwards rode a masterful race on Now Ben to thwart Sarah Oliver's dour stayer, Green Winter (Zac Baker) by 41/2 lengths, with Kelvingrove (Ben Jones) in third. Prominent throughout, Richard Milner's 11 year-old jumped fast and brilliantly to stamp his authority, particularly at the last when Green Winter was in hot pursuit.

Handler, Karen Hobbs, had a dramatic journey to Hereford from near Lambourn, a tyre blowing on her lorry en route. The subsequent rescue left them very short of time, and she almost became resigned to the fact that Princely Player would miss his chance in the Realtime Civil Engineering Ltd Conditions Race with Ben Jones. But she managed to declare with seconds to spare, and despite the torrid journey, Princely Player jumped beautifully, duelling with the favourite, Undisputed (Alex Edwards) from three fences out, eventually outgunning him by 4 lengths.

Welsh riders filled the first three places in the Morecraft Ltd PPORA Conditions race for Novice Riders. Jack Tudor and William Money justified favouritism to coast clear of Cawdor House Bert (Elen Nicholas) and Bridge of Spies (Ellis Collier). Owner David Brace picked up the imposing trophy he had returned only minutes previously.
There was more Welsh success when Robert Luke's 5 year old debutante, Spark To A Flame (Zac Baker) cantered home by a distance in the Jockey Club Maiden For Mares & Fillies. "I couldn't have asked for better –the further she went, the better she was, Zac had a job to pull her up! And on her very first run over fences! I couldn't have asked for more," enthused Robert. The well-related mare is likely to be heading for the sale ring in the near future.

Henry Oliver's 5 year-old debutante in the first division of JRL Group Point-to-Point Flat race was also very well-bred, showing a good turn of foot to win by 4 lengths in the fastest of the two divisions. Breeder Bob Russell and his family had made the trip from their Blythe Park Stud in Derbyshire, and were on hand to receive the trophy for Henry, who was at Ffos Las. "He's a first foal, so that's very pleasing," commented Mr Russell, who has several out of the same mare to follow in his footsteps.

The Countrystore Whitestone Members race was a 5th course victory for Jane Alfrey's veteran performer, In The Dock, ably partnered by James Jeavons. In The Dock put in an exemplary show of jumping to finish alone after Sarah Jayne Davies' handsome front runner, Accessallareas parted company with Ireland Pearson at the 3rd fence. "All that schooling's paid off!" smiled Jane, who was the Area leading trainer last season.

With a dearth of Pony Races this weekend, only a 148 cms race was run, and it was The Mumbler and 13 year-old Ivor Herbert who cruised stylishly clear, looking set to emulate his brother, Milo who graduated through the Pony Division. Livewire (Alec Voikhansky) held off Aries (Daisy White) for 2nd, with Annie Get Your Gun (Richard Cook) in 4th. Another triumph for organiser, Pauline Duggan.

An excellent day of sport, provided by a hard-grafting team of North Ledbury supporters, every single one of whom deserve a pat on the back. Without them, the meeting would not happen.


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