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Easter Saturday 4th April 2015
by Andrew Norman

Rider Joe Hill recorded his initial treble at the Kimblewick Point-to-Point by guiding Consigliere, Fiddleesticks and Brians Well, all saddled by father Alan, to victory at Kimble on Easter Saturday.

Start Royal, partnered by Gina Andrews, also prevailed to give the Aston Rowant maestro a four-timer on the afternoon.

Champion Trainer Hill said: "It's brilliant for Joe. He's totally dedicated and works hard on his weight. He's been lucky to have had a great mentor in James Tudor and having been able to learn from professionals like Aidan (Coleman), David (Bass) and Dougie (Costello) but he's really making the most of his opportunities."

Joe's first success on the card was in the Bonhams Mens Open, where he guided Consigliere home in a match with Brackloon High. The dual point winners were both returning to this sphere after contesting the Cheltenham Foxhunter Chase last time.

The 12-year-old winner took the sting out of his rival in the back straight with Hill quickening the pace and forcing his pursuer into costly jumping errors. The classy Trempolino gelding came home unextended in the day's fastest time and will now head for the Bonhams Mens Open Championship Final at Cheltenham on April 29th.

Mind games had been played via text messages leading up to race day between Hill and fellow rider Andrew Barlow with the race subject to friendly local rivalry after the Mick Kehoe-trained runner-up had conquered the Hill-trained pair of Harbour Court and Ravethebrave earlier in the season.

Joe said: "He's the best I've ever ridden. I'm very grateful to the owners who have given us the horse for the year. I think it would take a good one to beat him if we went back to Cheltenham."

Father Alan explained: "We wanted a confidence booster but that was a hot Open for a match on Easter Saturday! There was a bit of pride at stake too! We'll try and go to Cheltenham now as he's shown he's still got the hunger for it. The rain didn't help us at the Festival and I'm confident he'd get home there on good ground."

Seven-year-old Fiddleesticks got off the mark on his fifth outing between the flags after staying on well from off the pace in the Open Maiden race.

The Heron Island gelding responded to his rider's urgings to lead approaching the last and forged ahead on the run-in.

Owner Robert Groves, enjoying his first Pointing win after buying Fiddleesticks in partnership with the trainer at Ascot Sales in July said: "I'm really pleased for the horse as he's had trouble with his wind but he's put plenty of effort into winning that."

The trainer said: "Fiddleesticks was a sick horse after Kingston Blount and we've had to be patient with him. I think Joe judged the pace well as they went for home too soon up front. I'm very pleased for Robert and tonight he can crawl home from the pub carrying his cup!"

Joe, 19, completed his hat-trick as Kingston Blount scorer Brians Well made most in the Hunt Members race, coming home in a canter by 12 lengths.

The £7,000 Doncaster May Sale purchase showed a likeable attitude and, although an eight-year-old, is steadily improving and can progress further.

Rider Hill said: "I'm lucky the old man puts trust in me. Brians Well is an up-and-coming horse we like a lot. He jumped efficiently and really enjoyed himself today."

Owner Rodney Mann continued: "We still don't know too much about him but I hope he's a nice horse. He's three from five and the horse that beat him at Higham, Play The Ace, looks useful. Today would have done his confidence the world of good. We haven't got any plans for him at present; we're just keen to keep building his confidence."

Start Royal, again enjoying front-running tactics under Gina Andrews, made it six wins from his last seven starts in the Ladies Open.

Andrews, who heads the National Lady Rider's Championship, quickened the tempo three out and her mount eased clear, outclassing his rivals by ten lengths. The gelding appears to be in prime order ahead of a return to Fontwell's Hunter Chase meeting on May 14th where he will bid to emulate last year's facile victory in the United Hunts Champion Hunters' Chase.

His trainer said: "He seems better than ever but can be a bit fresh so we're keeping him busy. Fontwell is very much on the agenda again but he'll go for another Ladies Open in between and I'm keen to support Gina in her quest for the title."

It was the evergreen 11-year-old's 21st career victory and co-owner Stewart Nash added: "I suppose you could say it's a Happy 21st! He loves to dominate and having a stone less weight suits him in Ladies races. He's a bit quirky but running him regularly is helping take the buzz out of him."

Although narrowing the gap on leading trainer Jack Barber, reigning champion Hill maintains he has "no chance" of retaining his title. "I'm delighted where we are but Jack's still got several to run and has twice the amount of horses in my yard," he said.

Fourth-season pointer Flicka's Witness (Jamie Goss), who had only lost his maiden tag at Brafield two weeks previously, doubled his winning tally at the first time of asking in Restricted company.

The ten-year-old outsider of three jumped ahead at the third last after stalking Celtic Intrigue and Jamrham throughout to record a four-length success. The winner will now be aimed at the Subaru Restricted Final at Stratford on May 29th, with stablemate Native Pride readied for the Paul Rackham Champion Novice at Huntingdon three days earlier.

Harpenden-based owner Denis Moylan said: "He was pulling too hard and not finishing his races but Jamie rides him with confidence and he's starting to settle. Joan (Johnston, trainer) has done a lot of work on his jumping and physically he looks better than ever. I'd like to go for the Subaru Final as going left-handed suits him well and he'd be more experienced than most."

The Laura Thomas-trained Credit Crunched opened the card with a comfortable success in the AGA Confined Hunts race.

The ten-year-old's Maiden and Restricted scores came with the word 'firm' in the going but found the accurately described 'good, good to soft in places' sufficient to record a five length victory under Tom Ellis.

Making his first start for over a year, the fragile gelding evidently goes well fresh having won on his seasonal debut at Black Forest Lodge last term.

"He's a cool dude and the yard favourite!" said Thomas, "I'm particular happy as Dad (Norman, owner) nearly sold him last weekend but I'm glad we've held onto him. He likes better ground and was actually due to run at Maisemore last Sunday but it went too soft. This is probably the softest we'd get away with."

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