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Dennis sets early pace among Edgcote trainers

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Racing folk need little reminder that the Edgcote Estate has a long history of producing Jump race winners. The estate was the home of Edward Courage, brewing magnate, who trained horses on the estate in the 50s and 60s.

Courage's stable included luminaries like Spanish Steps, winner of the 1969 Hennessey (now Ladbrokes Trophy) at Newbury at a stage when the race was a go-to destination for aspirant Gold Cup hopefuls. Nowadays, with the advent of more racing altogether, the choice of races for candidates is much wider.

Between the late eighties and the first decade of 2000, the likeable Mark Wilkinson was the sole occupant of Edgcote, training over 70 winners before the financial imbalance of racing forced him to call time.

More recently, Edgcote has enjoyed a return to something approaching the halcyon days, with three trainers in situ - Alex Hales, Ben Case and David Dennis.

First on the scoresheet this season, which is less than a month old, and in its infancy, is David Dennis, whose 5 runners to date yielded a first winner at Worcester yesterday in the form of Hobie, 1 1/2l winner of a maiden hurdle under Gavin Sheehan.

Dennis is the most junior of the three trainers around the estate, and his 108 runners last season generated just 8 winners, compared to  10 for Ben Case and 18 for Alex Hales. But Edgcote is once again a centre of excellence for Jump racing. 96 horses trained on the estate last year made a racecourse appearance, and the near 400 runs produced 26 individual winners of 36 races. 

Warwickshire has a long tradition of racing - professional and point-to-point, the latter at risk from the scar across the country of HS2, which may compromise hunt countries in a way the M40 nearly did some years earlier in 1989. Edgcote is at the forefront of its resurgence, and long may it be so.

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