Fledging rider Charlie Case earned a share of the South Midlands Area Novice Riders' Title by guiding Breaking The Bank to a fourth consecutive victory at the Berks & Bucks Point-to-Point at Kingston Blount on Sunday.
Successful in four of his ten rides this year, Case is in the perfect position for next season by retaining his Novice Rider status. "I'm always very nervous watching him ride, so there's a big feeling of relief!" said proud mother Sarah, who trains the dual hurdles winner at Edgcote, near Banbury. "Charlie is growing in confidence. He doesn't have any plans to go professional so he'll just carry on having fun pointing next year."
The eight-year-old winner, the leading horse in the South Midlands Area this season, stalked Little Legend in the BFJ Consultants Mixed Open before cruising ahead approaching the last to record a snug three-length victory. Case added: "He's been a superstar. He's a bit wise and thinks about things so we didn't know if he'd take to Pointing but we hunted him and he's enjoying himself. As he'd won three on the bounce, we weren't sure if we should quit while we were ahead but Charlie could claim 5lbs in the Open – and we would have incurred a 15lb penalty in the Novice Riders race – so it made sense!"
Stratford's Subaru Final (June 9th) could be the destination for Restricted scorer The Drone. Chris Henn's lightly-raced six-year-old jumped ahead two out under Nick Meek to record a four-length victory. The Brafield maiden winner, who was pulled up after losing a weight cloth at Mollington last time, was acquired on the recommendation of Martin Lynch after finishing third in a Maiden Hurdle at Downpatrick in 2015.
"He hit a flat spot four out but picked up again," said Henn, who trains the Mahler gelding at Steane Park. "He's very genuine but is a bit of a worrier which is why he's lightly-raced and we don't take him too far. He's still learning, that's only his fourth race for us, and we'll enter him for Stratford now and have a think. Nick Meek rides him out every day and this wouldn't have happened without him – he's an absolute star."
On the final day of the season in the South Midlands Area, the victory confirmed Henn to be the Leading Trainer with five horses or fewer. Alan Hill retained his title as the Leading Trainer outright. Laura Thomas, runner-up to Hill, shares the Novice Riders' Title with Charlie Case, while Hill's son Joe was the Leading Gentleman Rider. Breaking The Bank, who provided Case with all of his points, was the Leading Horse, with Katy Lyons the Leading Lady Rider. Dabinett Moon and En Passe share the prize for the Leading Mare. The awards will be presented at the Hunter Chase evening at Stratford Racecourse on Friday 9th June.
Fresh from celebrating a winner at Dingley the previous day, Ettington trainer Martin Wanless completed a memorable weekend by saddling Dynamo Frankie to victory in the Mettal Limited Intermediate.
The outsider of the six, under Jack Andrews, had been a weak finisher of late but stayed on best to draw ten lengths clear of his rivals here after the race had changed complexion several times throughout. "The bookies don't know what they're doing!" Wanless remarked about the 14/1 price of his charge. "He loves good ground and might go to Umberleigh on the last day of the season."
Popular front-runner Creepy made it two from two at the course by dictating the Novice Riders race. In a fine weight-carrying performance, giving 10lbs to his rivals, the Westerner gelding profited from a positive ride from Charlie Dee to give his rider a second Point-to-Point winner.
Leased for the season from previous trainer Martin Keighley, the nine-year-old is trained by Dee's cousin Claire Hardwick. "Claire has done a brilliant job in rejuvenating him this season," said Dee, who has ambitions to become a bloodstock agent. "He fell out of love with the game under rules but he loves a quick track like this and enjoyed the undulations. People were discounting him after last week (Novice Riders Final) but it wasn't a bad run, he just made a mistake at a crucial stage against some good horses."
An alarming market drift did not prevent Thyne For Ruda making all in the Open Maiden. The victory marked another success in a fine campaign for rider Evan David and trainer Andrew Pennock, the pair having landed 22 and 23 winners respectively throughout the season.
"He'll come on a lot from that," said Pennock of his ten-year-old. "He was a bit bruised after this fall last time and I've only managed to get one gallop into him since. He doesn't have to make it but likes to be up there. We might run him again and have a weekend down in Devon. Another win down there would make for the perfect end to the season."
Merrydown Vintage walked over in the Hunt Members to win the race for the second year running for Guildford trainer Ray Fielder. A large crowd assembled to watch the traditional running of the Tyreteam Berks & Bucks Draghound Race in the middle of the card. The 12-strong pack was led home by 'Razor', a three-year-old, owned by Nicholas Owen, competing in the contest for the first time.