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North Staffordshire at Sandon
Saturday 26th March 2016
by Rory Alkin

The highlights of the seven race card were a double for trainer Oliver Greenall and his jockey Ed Glassonbury, courtesy of Badbad Leroy Brown and Desert Sting and the impressive Lilbitluso winning the North West Area feature for the Scally Muire trophy.

Only three declared for the 4, 5 and 6 year old Maiden over two miles and five furlongs and this was quickly depleted to two when Annie's Gun refused at the fourth. Hillier led Badbad Leroy Brown by a length or two for most of the race but when the pace quickened turning into the straight Ed Glassonbury easily took it up before the last and was six lengths clear at the line. This was the first run for the handsome four year old Lucarno gelding whom David Futter bred at his Yorton Farm Stud and sent to Oliver Greenall as an unbroken three year old.

The second leg of the Greenall/Glassonbury double came on Desert Sting in the concluding Restricted which was a Subaru qualifier for the final at Stratford in May. This race was also over two miles five furlongs and Desert Sting who was held up in third place for most of the journey, only came to challenge the free-running Golden Tobouggan after the second last and stayed on well to win by six lengths. The winner who won a Maiden for his owner David Bostock last season had run some good placed efforts in Restricteds without winning and the connections had targeted this race for some time because he barely gets three miles. The connections will now look at a sub three mile Novice Hunter Chase as a target from here.

The other qualifier was for the Connollys Red Mills Intermediate Final at Cheltenham in April and Hazel Hill who was having his seasonal debut easily accounted for his seven rivals under Jane Williams who also trains the eight year old for her mother Diana, giving connections their debut point to point winner for this season. Jane reported that the horse had several niggles since it won a Maiden and Restricted last season and he will probably go to the final at Cheltenham.

Definitely heading for that Cheltenham race will be Lilbitluso who was racing in the North West Area for the first time, having won a Maiden, Restricted and Intermediate previously. John Mathias came all the way from West Wales to ride this horse and he gave it a good education in the race. The Jordan Nailor ridden Argentato, who had won all of his four previous races this season, contested the lead for most of the way but Lilbitluso just galloped clear of his sole surviving rival in the straight to win by 15 lengths in the fastest time of the day, pleasing his trainer Joe O'Shea.

The Ladies Open was an easy win for Phine Banks on Horsham Lad winning by 10 lengths from Banana Flambe, gaining the horse's third victory of the campaign. In the Mens Open Tommie O'Brien bided his time on Kashline and won by a very easy three lengths from Puyol. The winner is trained by Jake Coulson and owned by entrepreneur Nick Carter for his expanding Cardley Racing operation. The former successful Irish handicap chaser was purchased privately in Ireland from Colin Bowe and was getting due compensation for finishing a close runner-up a couple of times this season in good Opens.

The Members Race saw Tirob lead from flagfall winning easily by 25 lengths from the only other survivor The King of Angels. The stewards accepted Claire Hart's explanation that the favourite Don't Back Down was never travelling and she pulled him up. The winner was a first success for 23 year old Katie Ayres who works for the Mickley Stud and owns and trains the horse with her partner Rob Jarrett near Whitchurch, having acquired him from David Mansell three seasons ago.

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