The latest news
OWNER-RIDER Nick Romain and trainer Rebecca Ffooks were in dreamland after Terrierman gave them their first winner at the Old Berkshire Hunt meeting at a windswept Lockinge Racecourse, near Wantage.
The couple, who live at nearby Ardington and are getting married in October, stable the nine-year-old - their only horse - at Henrietta Knight's West Lockinge yard.
Romain, 27, a contracts manager with resource management company Veolia UK, was having his 11th ride and jumped Terrierman alongside leader Order In Court and Freddie Henderson at the fifth-last in the Webbs Builders Merchants Old Berkshire Hunt Members, Subscribers & Farmers Race.
His mount, bought for £6,000 out of Tom Lacey's yard at the Goffs UK Doncaster Sales in May 2022, then powered away to score by 30 lengths from the 2019 winner as only two of the four runners finished on ground officially described as Good, but riding 'dead' following morning downpours.
Romain said: "I ride at the weekend, and it is my hobby and I love every minute of it. I am over the moon and very pleased for Rebecca. It is a dream come true. He keeps improving and I keep learning on him."
Ffooks, 26, racing secretary to Paul and Oliver Cole, was saddling her 10th runner, and she said: "I'm ecstatic. I am so proud of Nick. "This is massive for him. He works in an office and is a true amateur. It's brilliant down at Henrietta's. There will be a champagne bottle popped when we get back to the box."
Harry Greasby and Skipthecuddles have both had to wait to record their first wins between the flags, but they finally cracked it in the Luck Greayer Keeper-Jockey Conditions Race (Level 2).
Greasby, 19, who hails from Winchcombe and now works for Alan and Lawney Hill at Aston Rowant, was having his 26th ride when partnering the 12-year-old owned and trained by Tim Underwood at Beedon, near Newbury.
Skipthecuddles, who won a bumper, two hurdles and a chase under rules for Graeme McPherson, meanwhile, was opening his pointing account at the 13th attempt after being purchased for £12,000 at the Goffs UK Doncaster Sales in August 2021.
Greasby struck the front after winging the third-last and, despite drifting down the hill on the run-in, his mount still had enough left to hold off Frisson Collonges and Freddie Henderson by three lengths.
Greasby said: "It is just brilliant. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me along the way. He's a very quirky horse. He needs to be amongst horses and not away from them."
Underwood admitted Skipthecuddles had been frustrating, saying: "He is lairy. He was only four lengths behind Kemboy at Cheltenham. He is such a thinker. I have tried cheekpieces and blinkers. I might blindfold him next time!"
Peter Bryan took the day's riding honours with a double on Arthur's Sixpence in the Bear At Wantage (Arkell's Brewery) Conditions Race (Level 1) and Zee Man in the James Hambro & Partners Mixed Open.
Bryan and Arthur's Sixpence, trained by Georgie Nicholls at Kingston Lisle, won a similar contest over three miles at this meeting 12 months ago.
And they repeated the trick over a shorter 2m 5f trip after hitting the front at the second-last before going clear to triumph by four lengths from Gabrial The Great and Thomas Murray.
The nine-year-old is owned by Bryan's Shropshire-based parents, Willie and Mandy Bryan, and his grandfather, David Smith, with the winning rider saying: "I am delighted for mum and dad. They bred him, so it's really nice for him to win for them.
"We hope to go to Ludlow in a couple of weeks. He likes a quicker surface and got away with it with his class today."
Bryan works for Archie Watson in the mornings and in the afternoons for Nicholls, who said of her charge: "He loves Lockinge - it is going to be his annual outing!"
Bryan made it a quickfire double when taking the mixed open aboard Zee Man for Wellesbourne trainer Fred Hutsby, who went on to notch a double of his own with Joe Kidd in the finale.
Polydora made the running in the day's feature race, but Bryan always had Harry Myddelton's mount in his sights and after joining him on the final circuit, Zee Man galloped away to score by six lengths, with Epi Sacre third for the second successive year.
The nine-year-old, second in a Warwick hunter chase 11 days earlier, was providing a welcome change of luck for Hutsby, whose two runners at Kimble on Saturday were pulled up.
"We needed that," he said. "This horse has been a star. Eight times he has run now and when he's got round, he has hardly been out of the frame. I was a bit worried because he had only run a week last Thursday."
After receiving the Lockinge Challenge Cup, owner Marcine Marshall, from Fulready, near Shipston-on-Stour, said: "I bought him from Olly Murphy and Fred has been amazing. We have had a lot of fun with him this year. I just can't believe it. I am thrilled."
Hutsby's afternoon got even better when Joe Kidd made it third time lucky in the closing Charles Russell Speechlys Maiden, which with eight runners took the day's tally to 37.
The eight-year-old, named after a Western movie character played by Clint Eastwood, had failed to complete on his previous two starts, but made amends under a fine front-running ride from Oliver Boyden to romp home by six lengths from Dunworley and Charlie Case.
Hutsby said: "He has had leg trouble and I've been patient with him. I said to the lad be positive and he did everything right."
Boyden, 21, works for Olly Murphy, and was riding his third winner. He added: "I am very grateful to Fred for giving me the ride. The horse jumped brilliantly."
Owners Margaret and Richard Jukes made the trip from Newcastle Emlyn in Carmarthenshire and were delighted to be in the winner's enclosure with the home-bred son of Kalanisi out of their mare, Just A Whisper.
Explaining how the gelding came to be named, Margaret said: "Joe Kidd is one of the cowboy legends, and we have a friend who is a great authority on it."
Bloodstone, second on his last three starts for Buscot Park owner-trainer James Henderson and his jockey-son, George, gained a deserved success in the Dubarry Restricted.
George sent the eight-year-old to the head of affairs at the fourth-last in the 2m 5f contest and they stormed home by eight lengths from Great Colewood and Robert Hawker.
It was the rider's first winner since he had partnered the son of Court Cave to victory in a Horseheath maiden on New Year's Eve 2021 when Dale Peters trained the gelding.
George said: "It has been far, far too long. He is a lovely horse and has been runner-up three times. Today he was much more straightforward."
The meeting was preceded by three pony races, sponsored by Pinewood School, and the opener for novice riders saw a first winner for Rosie Twiston-Davies, 9, daughter of Naunton trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, on Follow The Stars.
William Pearman, 14, from Brockamin, near Leigh, in Worcestershire, triumphed on Mysterious Lady in the 138cm ponies and under open, while Harry Vigors, 13, from Aldbourne, near Marlborough, took the honours aboard The Green Monk in the 148cm and under open.
OLD BERKSHIRE HUNT POINT-TO-POINT LOCKINGE, NEAR WANTAGE, OXFORDSHIRE
Monday 10th April 2023
By Russell Smith
IT'S the Old Berkshire Hunt's 70th anniversary meeting at Lockinge, near Wantage, and a bumper crowd is again expected to flock to the popular course on Easter Monday, April 10.
The track, which first staged the fixture in 1953, will play host to six races starting at 2pm with the feature contest the James Hambro & Partners Mixed Open for the Lockinge Challenge Cup.
With the race offering £1,000 in total prize money and £500 to the winner, it's attracted 16 entries.
Arthur's Sixpence showed his liking for Lockinge when landing a conditions race for Kingston Lisle trainer Georgie Nicholls 12 months ago, beating James Henderson's Frisson Collonges, who could renew rivalry.
The Buscot Park owner-trainer also has the option of saddling last year's third, Epi Sacre. The nine-year-old hinted that his turn was near when second to Grageelagh Girl at Larkhill in February.
Tom Ellis, who took this prize 12 months ago with General Arrow, has entered Precious Bounty, although his Brafield-on-the-Green runner-up is more likely to head to Kimble.
Go Whatever, winner of the Sussex National at Plumpton in January 2022 but off the track since pulling up in the Surrey National at Lingfield later the same month, is an interesting entry for Anthony Ward-Thomas.
Kilbrew Boy enters calculations for Ben and Charlie Case following his Horseheath win, while Zee Man, second to Firak in a Warwick hunter chase for Fred Hutsby, and Alan Hill's Kingston Blount second Polydora are others to consider.
Sumkindofking, who gave Edward Walker a winner on his first ride with victory at Didmarton last month, could run here or in the Luck Greayer Keeper-Jockey Conditions Race (Level 2).
With Tempelpirate bound for Kimble, Tim Underwood is set to run Skipthecuddles.
Describing the 12-year-old as "very in and out", the Beedon owner-trainer is hoping a change of tactics may do the trick after Harry Greasby's mount raced prominently before finishing fourth to Minella Wizard at Brafield-on-the-Green.
"You have got to get everything to work for him," said Underwood. "He has got to be on the inner and not on the outer, so he doesn't get disillusioned. You have to sit and suffer on him. At Didmarton he was bang there on the inside and responded."
Frisson Collonges is also engaged here, while Tara Storm is the stand-out entry after reeling off a hat-trick for Eve Hobbs but may well head to Paxford.
Joe Neal has the option of running Maisemore Park winner Vango de Vaige here or in the Arkells Brewery Conditions Race (Level 1) over 2m 5f.
Butte Montana has to be respected with Underwood feeling the eight-year-old scored at Shelfield Park under Molly Landau despite not being ideally suited by the easy going.
"It is a hot race, but he definitely goes," he said. "He is a Presenting horse which want good or better ground.
"I think he will get three miles, but he wants good ground to get it. When he won, the further he has gone the further he has won by."
Nicholls has also entered Arthur's Sixpence here, while Henderson could be represented by Epi Sacre or Order In Court, who has been off the track since finishing third at Garthorpe in June 2021.
Robert Varnham will be looking for Tangoed to step up on his seasonal return when third at Didmarton, while Kingston Blount specialist Gabrial The Great could make his seasonal reappearance for Thomas Murray.
With the going described as Good, Good to Soft in places, the meeting has attracted a healthy entry of 87.
Henderson has won the Webbs Builders Merchants Old Berkshire Hunt Members, Subscribers & Farmers Race four times and he has a strong hand with three of the eight entries.
Bloodstone, the regular ride of the owner-trainer's eldest son, George, is probably the pick after finishing second to Rabble Rouser, Tara Storm and Latenightrumble this season.
Henderson's other son, Freddie has partnered his father's four previous winners, including 2019 hero Order In Court, who is entered again along with Garthorpe second Frisson Collonges.
Nicholls claimed this prize with Old Guard last year and is set to run Erratic Cinematic, who will be tackling fences for the first time after finishing eighth in a point-to-point flat race.
Terrierman, second to Firak at Brafield-on-the-Green for Rebecca Ffooks, George Edgedale's Kilpin and James Sheppard's Bako de La Saulaie complete the line-up.
Like Butte Montana, Underwood feels Larkhill maiden winner Must Have Hope, the mount of Landau in the Dubarry Restricted over 2m 5f with Phil York going to Aldington, will benefit from a sound surface.
The owner-trainer said: "He has still been putting in good performances but would be a few pounds better on quick ground."
Nicholls will be hoping for similar conditions for her Cocklebarrow winner Kayf Taoi as the seven-year-old bids to bounce back after finishing third at Ston Easton.
Following his victory at the Heythrop Hunt meeting, she said: "I think the key to him was the good ground. He enjoyed bouncing of that."
Bloodstone, who was just ahead of Freddie Mitchell's Cossack Dancer when they made the frame behind Tara Storm at Cocklebarrow, is joint top-rated here with Ed Walker's Bishops Court runner-up Great Colewood.
Ellis won the Charles Russell Speechlys Maiden with Wireless Operator last year and may bid for a repeat with Lord Pethers, a close third at Brocklesby Park in February.
The champion trainer said: "He ran nicely for us. He was at Dan Skelton's yard and was disappointing over hurdles. He is a young horse who is entitled to carry on improving.
"I would not be surprised if he ran a big race. His homework has been good, and he will appreciate better ground."
Nicholls is set to run the lightly raced Calling London here and may also saddle Silver And Gold, who showed a modicum of form in three runs under rules for Warren Greatrex.
Ed Walker could have a say if making the journey up from Ottery St Mary with either Cotley fourth Aunt Lily or Ston Easton runner-up There's Claude.
Also of interest are Chabichou Dupoitou, who was third twice under rules and is now with Robert Waley-Cohen, and Richard Pringuer's Irish import Dunworley.
Gates open at 10.30am and the meeting is preceded by a dog show (11.30am), three pony races (from 12.15pm), sponsored by Pinewood School, and a parade of hounds (1pm). There will also be a family funfair, plenty of shopping and a street food market.
Admission is £20 per person on the day, with under 15s free. Advance tickets are available for £15 up to race day via the Old Berkshire point-to-point website.
Lockinge is located two miles south-east of Wantage on the B4494, eight miles north-west of M4 Exit 13. Follow the signs if coming from the south. OX12 8PA. For more information, visit www.obhpointtopoint.co.uk