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Bicester with Whaddon Chase
Sunday 15th March 2015
by Andrew Norman

Progressive eight-year-old Moroman made all in the Mens Open to end the long-standing course winning sequence of local favourite Doctor Kingsley at the Bicester with Whaddon Chase at Whitfield on Sunday.

A small but select field of six, including prolific Point/Hunter Chase winner Fruit Fayre, were unable to live with David Kemp's charge, quickening up the hill after producing a slick round of jumping.

Jubilant winning trainer/rider Kemp said: "That was exciting. We had him down as a gassy two and a half miler at one stage but he evidently stays very well. We wanted to run him in the Leicestershire Hunters' Chase but the ground was wrong. I'd like to gain compensation in the Eastern Counties at Fakenham on Easter Monday after his mistake in the race last year."

Doctor Kingsley, who had won his last six at the track including this race last year, caught the eye by staying on into third and looks sure to be competitive in the four-miler at Cheltenham's Hunter Chase Evening, where he would be bidding for a fourth straight win on that card.

Colonel Iain booked his place in the Connolly's Red Mills Final at Cheltenham next month by clocking the fastest time of the day in the Intermediate. The nine-year-old, under James Ferguson for father John, went clear on the final circuit and thrashed Mister Teddy by thirty lengths. This race has thrown up the winner of the Intermediate Final before and Ferguson's charge undoubtedly goes there holding strong claims after two impressive performances, especially with the rider able to claim the full 7lb allowance.

"I guess you'd have to say he'd have a good chance at Cheltenham," said the winner rider, "He was disappointing at Cottenham where he seemed to lose interest, but the application of cheekpieces and more positive tactics have transformed him. He's not the most fluent jumper but he's got a high cruising speed."

The most popular winner on the afternoon was in the Hunt Members race with veteran Irish Guard, a triple Towcester winner, guided home by riding debutant Phoebe Taylor. The gelding made virtually all of the running but jumped the last as one with Bigasabishop before Will Telfer's mount wearily wandered on the run-in, leaving the winner to assert.

The rider, a third-year student at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, was given the horse to train by owner and former trainer John O'Neill, who acts as Chairman of the Bicester with Whaddon Chase Point-to-Point.

Taylor, 22, who has helped her mother, Phillippa, train the horse at home in Stratton Audley, said: "I was so nervous and didn't expect to have to ride a finish in my first ever race! We got him from John in November and he's kept asking me whether he's fit enough! I've got the bug now so we'll have to go for another one, possibly back here next month!"

After a series of promising placed efforts, the Laura Thomas-trained Swingbridge (Tom Ellis) survived a final fence blunder to get off the mark in the Open Maiden. Despite the error, it was a comfortable five-length success for the seven-year-old son of Milan, who made the best of his way home from the second last.

The winner was a £7,500 acquisition at the Doncaster May sale after eight outings under rules for Chris Grant. The ride proved a welcome spare for Tom Ellis; with stable jockey Sam Painting instead opting to ride Tocca Ferro at Hackwood Park.

Owner Norman Thomas, father of fledgling trainer Laura, explained: "We felt a track with an uphill finish would suit him as he stays well. I thought he was gone at the last, especially as he walked straight through a fence and unseated at Godstone but he's been knocking at the door and deserved that."

A determined Tom Ellis completed a double after driving Fred Hutsby's six-year-old Kristian Gray home in a competitive Restricted contest. The Brocklesby Park scorer found conditions too testing at Chaddesley Corbett last time and looked much happier on this sounder surface.

The race looked in safekeeping for recent Kingston Blount winner Celtic Intrigue, attempting to make all, but the eventual runner-up jumped violently left at the last and was passed up the run-in.

Winning trainer Hutsby said of his £15,000 Doncaster May sale purchase: "Christine [Osborne, owner] is fairly new to the game but had success with Tempered Steel and has fallen in love with Pointing. She may want to go for something like the Intermediate Final if we can get him qualified, we'll see. He's a nice horse who jumps quick and well but needs decent ground."

Dual chase winner Qoubilai made most in the Ladies Open, supplementing his Higham success to provide rider Lottie Crane with first ever winner. The gelding was the best part of a fence clear with a circuit to travel and extended that advantage at the finish to come home unchallenged.

Trainer Tom Messenger said of his hooded eleven-year-old: "We bought him for Lottie to ride but he can be headstrong so Pete Mann partnered him first time up at Higham. We thought he could be a dubious stayer given his rules form but he settled well and got in a great rhythm today after being a bit keen early on."

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