Double Joy For Case And Waley-Cohen
Local trainers Sarah Case and Robert Waley-Cohen both saddled doubles at Mollington on Monday as a large rain-soaked crowd braved conditions to witness high-quality racing at the Warwickshire Point-to-Point.
Waley-Cohen's homebred Storm Lantern took the opener, the Hunt Members race, under son Sam with the seven-year-old repelling Mister Teddy up the run-in. Having broken his Maiden on this card two years ago, the gelding made the most of conditions before the rain got into the ground.
"It's nice to see him back in the winner's enclosure," said Waley-Cohen, "he needs tidy ground and as we've had such a wet winter, he hasn't had many opportunities. We had planned to bring him here for the Members race but he'll have to step up in class now."
The double was landed after former Aintree Foxhunter hero Warne ran out an impressive winner of the day's feature, the AGA Mixed Open race. The bold-jumping 12-year-old powered up the hill to dismantle a competitive field by eight lengths, looking back to something close to his best after a disappointing start to the campaign.
"He really enjoyed himself today," said rider Sam Waley-Cohen, "He's been improving as the season has gone on. As he's in such good form, we'd love to run him again and these sub three-mile races play to his strengths. It's great to be able to support the Warwickshire and it always means a lot to have winners here."
Sarah Case, who trains just five miles from the course at Edgcote, and rider Max Kendrick, were both celebrating initial Point-to-Point doubles after teaming up in the Restricted and Open Maiden races.
There were mixed emotions for owner David Barlow after Go On Henry scored in the Restricted. Barlow had purchased the eight-year-old for daughter Olivia to ride but after an encouraging third at Brafield in March, the rider suffered an injury at Higham last month and was unable to take the mount.
Fences looked to be the making of Open Maiden winner Mazurati. The seven-year-old former hurdler, who joined the yard as a yearling, is a half-brother to Punchestown Festival winner Quantitativeeasing. Owned by the rider's mother Carolyn Kendrick, a big supporter of the Case yard, the gelding's High Easter form had been boosted twice over the weekend by subsequent winners.
"We were undecided on whether to run as neither of them wanted the rain," said Case, "but I think they're getting through it as it's not holding ground. Mazurati lost his way over hurdles and we decided Pointing would help his confidence. He would have needed the run first time out but he jumped really well today and hopefully he can build on this."
The Levinson Family's Premier Portrait, qualified with the Heythrop, looks certain to claim the Connolly's Red Mills Leading Horse award after scoring for the eighth time this season. Three wins clear of his closest pursuers, the nine-year-old never wins by far but jumped ahead at the last and held his rivals up the hill.
Rider Gus Levinson has sewn up the Dodson & Horrell Wilkinson Sword after registering his tenth victory of the season but a winner for Jack Andrews at Northaw meant he still trails by one in the race for the Fuller's Novice Riders title.
"Premier Portrait was entered at Northaw but we decided to come here after the rain came," said Andoversford-based trainer Charles Levinson. "Gus has his sights set on the Novice Riders title so we'll keep him going. It looked hard work today but he just needs coaxing."
Moorland Sunset (Nick Phillips) justified odds-on favouritism to win the Confined for the second year running. The nine-year-old, completing a four-timer, made heavy weather of his task but battled well to cap a memorable week for the Phillips family following Cousin Pete's success at Cheltenham on Wednesday.
"He's a more relaxed horse than last year – the hood and taking him down to post early have transformed him," said Bibury trainer Dibby Brown, "He hit a flat spot and today may have come too soon after Kingston Blount. He's not an Open class horse but we're forced into that grade now because carrying a 9lb penalty isn't realistic."
Trained by Ettington handler Fred Hutsby for owner John Burton, Kilcullenatmidnite (Hugh Nugent) prevailed in a dramatic young horse maiden. A full-brother to useful chaser Quite By Chance, the five-year-old son of Midnight Legend was presented with an easier task after two challengers were carried out by a loose horse at the last.
"I was standing head on so couldn't tell but Hugh said he thought he would have won anyway," explained Hutsby. "He's a nice horse who has shown me plenty at home. He wasn't right first time out (pulled up) and I see no issues with him staying three miles in time. Although we only had one winner, all our horses have run well today which is very encouraging for the remainder of the season."