JOAACI GAINS CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL QUALIFICATION
THERE was a big shock in the Mixed Open when odds-on favourite Southwestern crashed out of the race at the first fence. Fortunately both horse and rider Neil Harris escaped without injury, with the jockey reporting that his mount, “never lifted a leg”. More drama came at the same fence next time round when joint leader Karinga Coin fell and brought down Polinamix. This left Joaaci to follow up last week’s Black Forest win in the hands of John Monk, securing his Cheltenham Christie’s Foxhunter qualification.
A longer term Cheltenham date is also pencilled in for Bishy Barnaby, who won the Confined impressively in the very sticky ground, and could head for the Connolly’s Red Mills championship race in May. “He is a bit special but hated the ground today”, reported trainer Gordon Chambers. Bishy Barnaby’s jockey Matt Griffiths had earlier initiated a double when King’s Bench won one of a quartet of young horse Maidens. Bought at Goffs as a three-year-old for owner Laura Claydon, the winner is trained by Ashley Farrant who said, “I have always liked him and he has loads of potential”.
19-year-old Saltash born jockey James Best also recorded his first double to add to his two winners last weekend, both trained by the meeting’s entries secretary Jackie du Plessis. A walk over for Walter De Wodeland in the Hunt race was followed by a comfortable victory for Jayjay Valentine in one of the Maidens. This six-year-old was home bred by his St Mellion based owner Robin Reip.
The easiest of the Maiden winners was Fountains Cloud who made all the running to score by 15 lengths. Jointly owned by his rider Jim Cole and David Stephens, Fountains Cloud was bought from Anthony Honeyball last autumn. “He was very weak but the moors have sorted him out”, exclaimed the delighted jockey, who also trains this half brother to prolific pointing winner Chesnut Annie.
In contrast, the mare My Nicole and debutant Cornish Ice were engaged in a stirring battle up the run-in before the mare prevailed by a head in the remaining Maiden section Josh Guerriero was the successful rider for the Stormy Ladies’ Partnership, led by Jill Dennis who was celebrating her birthday. Caroline Furse trains My Nicole at Bradworthy and said, “We nearly didn’t come because he doesn’t like this going”.
Merriott’s Oscar stayed on gamely to hold True Tara in the older horses’ Maiden. Owned by The Merriott’s Partnership from Somerset, the Oscar Schindler gelding jumped well to give James Griffin his first winner in English points on his first ride in this country. “My riding kit is still in Ireland so I have had to borrow everything”, said the stylish rider who has eight career winners behind him in Ireland.
Open Maiden 4 to
7-year-olds only – 2 miles 4 furlongs
8-year-olds and over