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Hutsby double graces Mollington Bank Holiday fixture

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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."

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