Racing news

 RSS Feed

  1. The 65th running of the Stratford Foxhunter, sponsored by Pertemps Network, produced a result worthy of the point-to-point community it supports, when What A Glance produced a good turn of foot at the last to win for Shropshire owner Ann Taylor and her grandson Tom Britten, who trains the nine year old. Ridden by Murray Dodds, a second winner in as many days for him, the gelding was produced between horses at the last, having been handy throughout.

    The three circuits of Stratford gave plenty of opportunity for jumping errors, but this experienced field included winners of some of the sport's best known hunters' events, including Premier Magic, winner of the 2023 Cheltenham Foxhunter, and Law of Gold, winner of this event in 2021, and runner-up to stablemate Vaucelet the following year. The Mullins - trained Annamix was well fancied, not least as stablemate Onlyamatteroftime had won in a hack canter at Warwick 24 hours earlier.

    Five out, Dale Peters made the best of his way home, sending Law of Gold into a 2l advantage over favourite Fairly Famous, with the winner and Lift Me Up close behind. Go On Chez blundered at the third last but recovered to rejoin the back of the main group at the turn, the rest spent.

    What A Glance and Murray Dodd jump the last fence to win the Pertemps Network Stratford Foxhunters' Champion Hunters' Chase at Stratford. 31/5/2024 Pic Steve Davies

    Britten will look forward to Cheltenham 2025 after benchmarking his horse against Premier Magic and Annamix.

    Thirty minutes earlier, it had been the moment for one of Pointing's staunchest supporters, Diana Williams, to step forward and receive the John Corbett Cup for the success of previous course winner Forest Chimes in the Novices Champion Hunters Chase. Recent Cheltenham winner Iskander Pecos was sent off favourite, but found Stratford's bends and faster ground a bit too sharp. Forest Chimes, under Darren Andrews, was able to take up the lead at the last in the back straight, and always had enough in hand to keep Iskander Pecos at bay. Philip Rowley has a notable record in the hunter chase division.

    Forest Chimes and Darren Andrews jump the last to win the Champion Novices' Hunters' Chase at Stratford. 31/5/2024 Pic Steve Davies

    Only 5 went to post for the Ladies Open Hunters' Final, in what looked a face-off between 2023 Aintree Foxhunter winner Famous Clermont and young pretender Imperial Esprit, recent winner at Edgcote. Famous Clermont has stuck to point-to-points until this race this season, but evidently lost none of his zest for racing. Taking a keen hold, he was prominent from flagfall, taking it up at the 6th of the 17 fences., and he always had the measure of the younger Imperial Esprit. It would be doing newly crowned lady point-to-point champion rider Izzie Marshall a disservice to say she was run away with, but it turned into something of an armchair ride, albeit rather an active armchair!

    Famous Clermont and Izzie Marshall win the Stratford Ladies Open Championship Hunters' Chase Final at Stratford. 31/5/2024 Pic Steve Davies

    Marshall had already visited the winner's enclosure to start the evening in the Jumping For Fun Restricted Hunters event on Alan Hill's Learntalot, although it required the judge to decide the winner in a blistering finish involving Well P and the fast-finishing Padjoes Legacy. It transpired Learnalot had held on by a head, Well P a further 3/4l behind in third. Another stride would have produced a different result.

    Peter Wright has been a force for good in leading the sport's amateur division over the past 6 years, including the small matter of a pandemic and the wettest winter on record. His achievement ws recorded in the Peter Wright Over & Out Hunters Chase, the only handicap in the sport. David Kemp is always a force to be reckoned with at this fixture, and his Rebel Dawn Rising was sent off 100/30 favourite but came off a length worse to Envious Editor, whose last visit here had been a remote 5th in the Ladies Final in '23. His outings have been sparse this winter, limited to a single winning run at Hexham, but that freshness showed in a race where he picked off the favourite at the last and made every pound of the 12lb he was receiving count. The 1l distance at the line was comfortable enough for young rider Henry Crow and his mother Caroline, and he should continue to visit the winner's enclosure at this level for a year or two yet.

    Shortest race of the evening, the White Swan Hotel Stratford Hunters over 2m, saw Fier Jaguen bounce out of the gate to make the running for Freddie Mitchell, substituting for the suspended Bradley Gibbs, surviving a dramatic blunder at the water. Four out, no more than 4l would have covered all bar one of the runners, as they all lined up to take on the leader.

    Last year's winner Kaproyale looked to have it all to do as they straightened up, Mix of Clover, Missed Tee and Cat Tiger having stolen a length or two. Charlie Case drove Kaproyale between horses to win in another judge-confirmed finish, over Cat Tiger and Mix of Clover, with distance of a nose and a neck. Phew.

  2.  A fascinating evening awaits pointing fans as Stratford sees out this most interrupted of Point-to-Point seasons on Friday evening, with a whole card dedicated to the amateur cadre. 

    The feature Pertemps Network Stratford Foxhunter Chase is graced by the presence of Aintree Foxhunter third Annamix, bidding to maintain the momentum of Willie Mullins in the British Trainers' Championship. Annamix is rated just 2lb ahead of other runners, 2023 Cheltenham Foxhunter winner Premier Magic and Gina Ellis trained Fairly Famous, who downed the former at the Cheltenham Hunters' evening at the start of the month. 

    Unbeaten this Spring is Kelso and Ludlow winner Go On Chez, trained by former riders, now turned training partnership, Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero, on the face of it with a little to find. However, both his starts this Spring have been untroubled victories, so he has yet to be tested and might spring a surprise.

    Also unexposed is What A Glance, trained by Tom Britten, but he has a little to find on Stratford form on a softer surface in late April. 

    The field is completed by Lift Me Up, well beaten by Fairly Famous at Cheltenham, and Law of Gold,  second in this race in 2022, but pulled up last year. Whilst he is twice a winner  at High Easter this spring, his star may be on the wane. 

    This time last year, Fiona Needham made the long trek from north Yorkshire to win the John Corbett Cup, aka the novice championship, with Sine Nomine. A more select field awaits the starter on this occasion, headed by Hannah Roach's Iskander Pekos, who has graduated from his Leicester maiden success under Rules to consecutive successes at Ludlow over 2m4f and Cheltenham at intermediate level earlier in the month. He will start a warm favourite to see off the Rowley - trained Forest Chimes, successful here in February and a recent winner at Eyton, and Go Go Geronimo, trained by Kelly Morgan, who comes here fresh from a 3 1/2l victory over Camdonian at Charm Park earlier in the month. 

    You can never rule out runners from the Ellis stable, and Master Templar was staying on when 3 1/2l behind Gabiorot in the four miler at the Cheltenham Hunters' evening. Stratford's tight turns are a different kettle of fish however. 

    Bradley Gibbs runs Dur Al Aghaidh, a recent acquisition from Ireland. Whilst a winner at Boulta last November, recent form has been patchy, so a watching brief may be advised.

    The other race of note is the Ladies Open Championship Final, in which just 5 are declared. Famous Clermont has run well this Spring without hitting the heights of his Aintree Foxhunter triumph of April '23, but he found the Champion Hunters' at Punchestown rather too hot at the start of the month. At his best, he should have the beating of the other four, who include Shantou Flyer, who ran a 20l sixth to Sine Nomine at the Festival, and comes here on a hattrick after wins at South Hill and Cothelstone. Olive Nicholls takes the ride.

    Also on a hattrick is Imperial Esprit after wins at Mollington and Edgcote, but he is facing higher-rated competition for the first time. The field is made up by Captain Biggles, three times the bridesmaid in his last 3 contests, with little reason to suggest he can go one place better here.

  3. SEB Mead remembered the late Keagan Kirkby after claiming a poignant victory on Imperial Esprit at the Grafton Point-to-Point at Edgcote, near Banbury, before looking forward to a summer spell with Willie Mullins.

    With a good-sized crowd basking in the spring sunshine on Sunday, Mead shone brightest aboard the Robert Varnham-trained 10-year-old in the PPORA Club Members Conditions Race (Level 2), for Novice Riders Championship Final.

    Previously Kirkby's mount before the 25-year-old died while riding at Charing in February, Imperial Esprit struck the front at the fourth-last in the contest sponsored by Savills and PPORA, before storming up the hill to win by two-and-a-half lengths.

    Runner-up Striking Out was subsequently disqualified after Bella Oliver failed to draw the correct weight with The Composeur and Jack Wilmot promoted to second.

    Mead, 22, said: "It was a very classy performance. Full credit to Robert for still having him running well at the end of the season."

    And reflecting on the loss of his weighing room colleague, he added: "He is always in our thoughts. I knew him well from when he could come down into the south-east to ride."

    Mead is based with David Phelan at Brook, near Ashford in Kent, and his boss has fixed him up with a dream trip to Mullins's all-conquering Closutton stables in County Carlow.

    "It's brilliant," said the excited rider. "I can't wait. I would love to train in the future, so it is the place to go. Hopefully, I will learn a thing or two."

    Varnham's thoughts were also with Kirkby after his charge's success. "He did that for Keagan," commented the trainer, who is based at Bramley, near Guildford. "He will be watching down on us. At the beginning of the season, we said we would go for this race."

    Kirkby's grandad, Dave Young, was watching the live stream, and is a member of owners the Gunshot Paddocks Racing Club, along with Chris Knotek, Clive Penfold, Sally Marks, Alan Wilson and Andy Gallagher.

    With clerk of the course Graham Tawell and his team working wonders to produce Good ground, 50 runners faced the starter at the picturesque track nestled in the Northamptonshire countryside.

    Dawn Ball, who trains out of Paul Webber's nearby Cropredy Lawn stables, celebrated her first double when Well P and Billy Two Rivers took the opening two races under Ellie Callwood.

    The trainer had gone nine years without a winner before Well P scored at Mollington 13 days earlier, and the seven-year-old repeated the dose in the Grafton Hunt Members, Subscribers & Farmers Race.

    The contest, sponsored by Heygates Country Foods, was open to horses entered for last month's abandoned Bicester with Whaddon Chase Hunt meeting, and the move paid off with nine runners.

    Callwood always had her mount in the firing line, before forging clear to pass the post 15 lengths ahead of Nasee and Ellie Miller with Fiftyfifty a length back in third.

    Ball, who owns the gelding as part of the Paddy Pea Club, with her mother, Joyce Ball, James Stride and Mick and Harriet Curran said: "I think we have something special for next year. With the Bicester being abandoned, I'm grateful that the Grafton have allowed us to join them."

    Things got even better for Ball and Callwood when Billy Two Rivers opened his account in great style in the Maiden Race, sponsored by a Gentleman.

    Callwood tracked the front-running Whatchagotder before hitting the front at the third-last and her mount, owned by Ball's partner, James Stride, powered clear to score by 16 lengths from Sean O'Connor's mount.

    "Wow, what can I say," exclaimed the trainer. "I think he is some machine. He only turned five this month, but mentally he is so mature."

    The gelding came from Turlough O'Connor, and Ball added: "He couldn't run on bottomless going in Ireland. I have had no winners for a long time and now I have had a double. It is amazing - three winners in two weeks!"

    The double took Callwood's tally for the campaign to 10, beating her previous best, and she said: "He is a very smart young horse for the future. Moving yards to Kelly Morgan has given me a big helping hand. I started with Tom and Gina Ellis, and I owe a lot to them."

    Caryto Des Brosses bounced back to winning ways in a high-quality Mixed Open, sponsored by John White Funeral Directors.

    Pulled up in the mud at Cheltenham last time, Thetford trainer David Kemp's 12-year-old appreciated the sounder surface to make it a dozen wins between the flags plus two hunter chase successes.

    Dale Peters maintained a strong gallop on the prolific winner to foil Golan Fortune's bid for a four-timer by two-and-a-quarter lengths with Jetaway Joey 11 lengths back in third.

    Kemp said his charge would probably not go to Stratford on May 31, reasoning: "He needs to run right-handed because he has some arthritic issues in the left side of his neck, and he is not so comfortable going left-handed."

    Owner John Ridge added: "I had it in the back of my mind that he would retire at 12 but after that performance I am not sure."

    And Peters said: "He has been a hero for my career. He has been very unlucky not to win a good one."

    Step Back rolled back the years to take the PPORA Club Members Veteran Horse Conditions Race (Level 3) for Oxfordshire trainer Lily Bradstock and rider Lexie New.

    Winner of the 2018 bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown, for whom he is now a Retraining of Racehorses Ambassador, the 14-year-old came clear up the straight to upset 1-3 favourite Benefaktor and Gina Andrews by eight lengths in the Framptons Planning-sponsored contest.

    With Letcombe Bassett handler Lily taking the veteran back to the lorry park, her mother, Sara, said: "He is teaching Lexie lots. He is having a lovely time, and his feet are too bad to do anything else. Our farrier, Paul Logue, has done an incredible job of keeping him sound."

    She added that there were no plans to retire the gelding, who runs in the colours of the Cracker and Smodge Partnership, named after owner Jamie McCloud's nicknames for his children.

    New commented: "He is a very cool horse. I feel very honoured to ride him. Up the hill I could feel them all around me and I knew he would keep going."

    Capparattin followed up his Mollington maiden win for Francesca Poste's Ettington stables, near Stratford, with a game success in the Restricted Race, sponsored by Towcester Vets.

    Charlie Case's mount was challenged by Chabichou Dupoitou from the fourth-last, and the pair were locked together up the run-in, but Capparattin dug deep to fend off Izzie's Marshall's mount by a short head.

    The Bumble Bee Racing Partnership, headed by Jane Burton and made up of her daughters, Lucy and Annabel, Trudy Gleed, Mark Styles and Mark Pugh, took over the nine-year-old's ownership from the late John O'Neill.

    Jane said: "He is gamer than I thought he was. He took it up from the front and every time they came to him, he said 'No, no, no'. John would be so proud."

    Case added: "He jumps for fun. He only does what he has to and saves a bit for himself."

    Nick Wright's first visit to Edgcote proved a memorable one although he had to endure an anxious wait before Mount Pleasant was confirmed the winner of the Owner-Trainer Conditions Race (Level 2) following a stewards' enquiry.

    The seven-year-old hit the front going to the third-last in the NFU Mutual-sponsored contest under Alex Chadwick, before holding on by three-quarters of a length from the rallying Secret Cargo and Katie Featherstone.

    Wright, who is based at Chippenham, near Newmarket, said: "All the credit must go to Ali Warboys, who has done the training while I have been away. Hopefully, he will go to Stratford for the Restricted. This is a beautiful course. I have never been before."

    Brothers Harry and Oliver Vigors, from Aldbourne, near Marlborough, completed a family double in the two pony races, sponsored by Ben Case Racing, to be crowned the South Midlands Area Leading Riders.

    Oliver, 12, triumphed in the 138cm and under contest aboard Little Anne, before Harry, 14, took the honours on Obi 1 Knobi in the 148cm and under race.

  4. YOUNG riders will get the chance to showcase their talents at the Grafton Point-to-Point meeting at Edgcote, near Banbury, on Sunday (2pm).

    They take centre stage in the PPORA Club Members Conditions Race (Level 2), for Novice Riders Championship Final, sponsored by Savills, which has attracted 13 entries.

    Imperial Esprit would be a poignant winner with Robert Varnham's charge running in memory of Keagan Kirkby, the gelding's former partner who had his sights on this contest before dying in February aged 25 while riding at Charing.

    Seb Mead was aboard the 10-year-old when he won at Mollington this month and takes the reins again, but his mount will have to carry a 10lb penalty, which gives runner-up Premier d'Troice and James Earnshaw prospects of gaining revenge.

    Muckamore and Harry Arkwright were fifth that day for Francesca Poste's Ettington stables, near Stratford, and the trainer's husband, Charlie, said: "I think this track will suit him better. He didn't finish off his race. I don't see why he can't get closer to the ones that finished in front of him."

    Olive Nicholls reported Ballyadam Destiny a more likely runner than All Loved Up from her two contenders and is hoping Daniel Williams's mount can turn the tables on Eyton-on-Severn conquerors Runwiththetide and Aimee Jones.

    The Kingston Lisle trainer said: "It was his first run for us, so we had to see what we had. It was Daniel's first completion and hopefully both of them will come on a lot."

    The seven-race card has received 101 entries, with clerk of the course Graham Tawell reporting a decision will be taken on Thursday whether to start watering, if the forecast rain doesn't arrive, to achieve Good ground.


    Connections of Grace A Vous Enki are set to make a late call on whether to let their prolific winner take his chance in the Mixed Open, sponsored by John White Funeral Directors.

    Eastnor trainer Nickie Sheppard's eight-year-old heads the Champion Horse standings with six successes after regaining the winning thread at Mollington.

    And her husband, Matt, said: "We are definitely looking to top that. There is a good chance he will run as long as it is on the slow side of good. There are not many horses that can beat him when he turns up. When he was beaten at Chaddesley he had puss in his foot."

    Gina Ellis is hoping Jetaway Joey will benefit from returning to point-to-points and a sounder surface after finishing fourth to What A Glance at Cheltenham.

    The trainer-rider said: "I think the ground went against him, but back in a point-to-point and being down in grade will help him."

    Caryto des Brosses, who was pulled up at Cheltenham but had previously won at Garthorpe for David Kemp, is another looking to bounce back, while Barry Denvir's Golan Fortune is chasing a four-timer.

    The Postes plan to run Russian Diamond with Charlie stressing that the 10-year-old is being used to provide members of their team with race-riding experience.

    The move to open up the Grafton Hunt Members, Subscribers & Farmers Race, sponsored by Heygates & Sons, to allow horses qualified with the Bicester with Whaddon Chase Hunt to run has paid dividends with 10 entries.

    Seven of those hold Bicester certificates, including the Postes' pair of Fakenham hunter chase winner Trevada and Nasee, who was third at Kingston Blount on Sunday.

    Charlie said: "Nasee is being used like Russian Diamond. Jack Cater went well on him then and Ellie Miller will ride this time.

    "Trevada is going to be entered in a novices' hunter chase at Huntingdon and we will make a decision after that."

    Well P finished second to Trevada at Guilsborough in March before giving trainer Dawn Ball her first winner for nine years when scoring at Mollington under Ellie Holder, who suffered a broken collarbone in a fall in the following race.

    The Cropredy Lawn handler reported: "We have in her place Ellie Callwood, who rode Well P at Guilsborough. She is booked in and coming in to have a sit on him."

    Having attracted 25 entries, the Maiden Race, sponsored by a Gentleman, could divide on the day.

    The Postes have four contenders with Charlie reporting: "Mount Vinson was disappointing at Kimble. He was not prepped enough, got stage fright and was babyish. He has learnt from that and sharpened up.

    "Tinker Two has done everything nicely here and is one for the future.

    "If it divided, Scarlet Jet would run in the other division to Mount Vinson. He goes nicely enough at home and is really coming forward. Jullou De Grissay could go to Cothelstone."

    Ellis is looking to Schiapars Magern to progress after finishing third to Premier Fantasy at Kimble, saying: "It was a pleasing debut and hopefully she should build on that run and take another step forward."

    Ball has an eye on the weather for her Mollington third Billy Two Rivers, who also holds an entry at Huntingdon.

    She said: "He definitely wants some fairly decent ground, and everyone says it is going to pour down on Thursday."

    Calidad is clear top-rated in the Restricted Race, sponsored by Towcester Vets, following his close third to Drakes Well at Mollington for trainer Christopher Clarke.

    Charlie Poste is hoping conditions will be testing enough for Capparattin to take his chance after the nine-year-old ploughed through the Mollington mud to break his duck.

    "The harder work it is, the better his chance," he said. "He stays very well, and fingers crossed we get the ground."

    Ellis, riding under her maiden name Gina Andrews, ended last weekend one winner behind Izzie Marshall in the race for the ladies' championship, and is undecided whether to run Tiger's Song, who is also entered at Hexham, having bled when pulled up at Overton.

    Marshall has the choice of the Alan Hill-trained pair Soldier Unknown, who is chasing a hat-trick after wins at Paxford and Godstone, and Learntalot, second to Ryans Fancy at Kingston Blount last month.

    Secret Cargo could bid to follow up his Godstone win for Kathryn Featherstone in the Owner-Trainer Conditions Race (Level 2), sponsored by NFU Mutual.

    Nick Wright's Mount Pleasant has won three of his last four starts and is a big danger, while Thomas Murray could run Farrants Way, who was third to Perfect Pirate at Paxford, here or in the veterans' race.

    Old favourites Step Back and Sametegal are set to do battle in the PPORA Club Members Veteran Horse Conditions Race (Level 3), sponsored by Framptons Planning.

    Now 14, Step Back won the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in 2018 for the late Mark Bradstock, and is set to represent his daughter, Lily. He was last seen finishing fourth to A Jet Of Our Own at Larkhill on New Year's Eve.

    Sametegal, one year his senior at 15, captured the Greatwood Gold Cup winner at Newbury in 2016 when trained by Paul Nicholls.

    Now with Belinda Keighley, he finished a neck second to The Creadan Rogue at Eyton-on-Severn last time.

    If younger legs are required, then the 11-year-old Benefaktor could be the answer for Ellis, who said: "He got his head in front at Godstone. He is a fun, consistent horse."

  5. TEENAGE jockey Tom Hutsby was thrilled to notch his first double on Shoal Bay and Drakes Well in front of a big crowd at the Warwickshire Point-to-Point meeting at Mollington, near Banbury, on Bank Holiday Monday.

    Having taken his tally for the campaign to five on the pair, trained by his father, Fred, at Wellesbourne, near Stratford, the 16-year-old called time on race-riding for this term to retain his novice status and keep his allowance.

    Setting out to make all the running on Shoal Bay in the opening Butler Sherborn Warwickshire Hunt Members, Subscribers & Farmers Race, Tom was joined by Captain Biggles and Gina Andrews at the third-last.

    However, his mount pulled out more over the last two fences to win going away, with Harriet Richardson, on her first ride aboard Bawnmore, third.

    The Hutsbys made it a quickfire double with the young rider again excelling on Drakes Well in the HFN Landscapes Conditions Race (Level 2) over 2m 4f.

    Sending his mount into the lead on the final circuit, Tom drove the 11-year-old out to score by a neck from I'm Spellbound and Andrews, with Calidad and Peter Mason three-quarters of a length back in third.

    Tom said: "It is amazing to have my first double especially on home ground. That is me done for the season. I want to keep my claim. I will focus on my GCSEs now and after that I am going to college to get my farm licence."

    Proud dad Fred, who is also clerk of the course, added: "We want to keep him as a novice for next season. It is brilliant for him to have a double in front of his home crowd."

    Drakes Well, who could now go for the handicap hunters' chase at Stratford on May 31, is owned by Fred's brother-in-law, Stephen Corbett, who said: "Tom is my nephew. It was a great ride, and it makes it a real family affair."

    Shoal Bay was completing a hat-trick after winning at Ampton and Lockinge for owner Marcine Marshall. She said: "He hunts with the Warwickshire with my son-in-law, Adam Botham, who is a showjumper. It means an awful lot to win this race because my grandson, Henry Marshall, is the second whipper-in."

    James King kept up his charge towards the men's championship with a double on Pluto's Gate and Grace A Vous Enki.

    Stepping in to partner Pluto's Gate in the Tattersalls Cheltenham Four and Five Years Old Maiden Young Horse Series Race with Hertfordshire-based trainer-rider Bradley Gibbs at Eyton-on-Severn, King powered the five-year-old home by a head from Soldier's Leap and Jack Andrews.

    The son of Cloudings, owned by Andrew Leyshon, was dismounted after the line in the 2m 4f contest before being loaded into a horsebox with the rider reporting his mount to be a 'bit sore'.

    King finished the day 12 winners ahead of Will Biddick after completing his double on Grace A Vous Enki in the Ray Randerson Carpets Mixed Open.

    Taking charge on the final circuit, the Nickie Sheppard-trained eight-year-old galloped on relentlessly to hold off Drop Him In and Gina Andrews by four lengths for his sixth win of the season and go one clear in the champion horse standings.

    The gelding, owned by Joan and Clive Hitchings, was regaining the winning thread after finishing third in the Lady Dudley Cup last month, and his latest success put Sheppard three clear in the race to be the leading trainer with six to 14 horses.

    The Eastnor handler said: "We are delighted to see him back in the winner's enclosure. James gets on very well with him and has ridden him to all his wins."

    King commented: "He has been an absolute star and a pleasure to be part of. He has achieved more than we expected. All credit to the Hitchings and the Sheppards because he was in the last chance saloon."

    The late Keagan Kirkby was in the thoughts of trainer Robert Varnham and jockey Seb Mead after Imperial Esprit ran out an easy winner of the F N Pile & Sons PPORA Club Members Conditions Race (Level 1), for Veteran and Novice Riders.

    Kirkby, who died in February aged 25 while riding in a race at Charing, won twice on the 10-year-old, with the plan to go for the PPORA Novice Riders Championship Final at Edgcote on May 19.

    "We ran here because of Keagan," explained Varnham, who trains the gelding at Bramley, near Guildford. "We wanted to be the top horse in the PPORA race and now we want to do it under his name. He won the first points on him."

    Mead, who was partnering the gelding for the first time for owners the Gunshot Paddocks Racing Club, consisting of Dave Young, Chris Knotek, Clive Penfold, Sally Marks, Alan Wilson and Andy Gallagher, took up the running after the third last, before storming home five lengths ahead of Premier d'Troice and James Earnshaw.

    Mead, 22, works for David Phelan, and was riding his second winner. He said: "I knew Keagan very well. He was the last person to win on the horse. It means a lot to ride the horse and he will always be in our memory."

    The Sir James Shuckburgh Bt. Restricted Race was run in a rainstorm, but trainer Dawn Ball was all smiles after Well P gave her a first winner for nine years in game fashion.

    Ellie Holder made much of the running on the seven-year-old before Chabichou Dupoitou struck the front after the third-last, but Well P rallied in great style to take the honours by two-and-three-quarter lengths from King's mount.

    Ball, who rents 22 boxes at Paul Webber's nearby Cropredy Lawn stables, was enjoying her first success since Gotoyourplay scored at Brampton Bryan in 2015.

    She said: "He has been knocking on the door for a win. He was bought off a photo and he came from Ireland. He had Its On The Line back in fourth when he won his maiden race (for Mary Ellen Doyle at Ballycrystal in February 2022)."

    Ball owns the gelding as part of the Paddy Pea Club, with her mother, Joyce Ball, James Stride and Mick and Harriet Curran, and she added: "I have been praying for rain and it came at the right time. He is only seven, so there is a lot ahead of us. It is exciting."

    Holder commented: "He got outpaced coming down the hill. I knew he was a strong stayer and he saw it out better than the others."

    The downpour made the ground very testing for the closing Walnut Hill PPORA Club Members Maiden Conditions Race.

    It held no fears for Capparattin, though, as Charlie Case made all the running on the nine-year-old, trained by Francesca Poste at Ettington, near Stratford, to grind out a three-and-a-half length victory over Whatchagotder and Toby McCain-Mitchell - the only other finisher from the seven starters.

    Owners the Bumble Bee Racing Partnership, headed by Jane Burton and made up of her daughters, Lucy and Annabel, Trudy Gleed, Mark Styles and Mark Pugh, were buzzing after the win.

    Jane said: "We trained this horse last season after getting him from the late John O'Neill. He bred and owned him and named him after his farm in Ireland. I think John would have been really excited."

    Charlie Poste, representing his wife who was at Eyton-on-Severn where Power of The Sea made it an across-the-card double for the yard, said: "He was sixth at High Easter with a hood on. We took it off and I think that has made the difference. Charlie Case gave him a brilliant ride."

    Case added: "He stays all day. The ground was too quick for him at High Easter. He likes a bit of cut in the ground."