02 November 2012 Allwood all ready for new season
by Carolyn Tanner
There was never any doubt that Sam Allwood would not be applying for a University scholarship when he left school. It was suggested to his mother at a parents' evening that perhaps he might like to read a bit more. "Well, he reads the Racing Post every day," she pointed out.
Coming from a hunting family, and with a mother who was very involved in showing, Sam was always going to follow equestrian pursuits, and from the age of 14 he went to work and ride out for Steve Brookshaw every weekend and in the school holidays.
As soon as schooldays were over Sam went to Philip Hobbs for three years, and it was for the trainer's wife Sarah that he rode his first winner, Koquelicot at Barbury in 2007. During that time he picked up rides for various West Country Point-to-Point yards, but it was when he moved to Robert and Sally Alner's yard in August 2008 that he became established as one of the country's most accomplished amateurs.
His 6'3" frame was never going to allow him into the professional ranks, but the fact that the Alners were happy to use his 7lb claim in non-amateur races speaks volumes for the regard in which he was held. While in their employ he booted home 18 winners during the 2008/9 season, a total which earned him the Wessex area title and saw him finish sixth in the National championship.
When the Alners retired from their Rules operation Sam returned to the family farm near Whitchurch with the intention of continuing to race-ride while buying horses to bring on and sell. He strongly believes that there should be more of a shop window for young British horses, and there should be no reason why they cannot command the same prices as their Irish counterparts.
Although training did not enter his calculations at that time, he was not going to turn down the opportunity when it arose, and this year he currently has a quartet in his yard, with room for more. He is also likely to be riding again for Oliver Greenall's stable, for which he enjoyed success last season.
He has maintained his links with Sally Alner's Point-to-Point yard, and has continued to stay loyal to his previous contacts by making regular journeys south. With his own horses his priority he is not expecting to travel as often this season as he did last, probably to the disappointment of his parents Robert and Rachel, who much enjoyed their visits to the Wessex and Devon areas when supporting him.
Facilities at Church Farm include a four-and-a-half furlong grass gallop and an outdoor school, which is large enough for jumping but not so spacious that horses can get up a real head of speed! For fast work Sam uses the gallops at nearby Kelsall Hill.
Star of the yard last season was Mister Tiger, who was sent to Sam to break in by owner-breeder Sue Heap. He was unable to run in 2010/11 due to problems with his feet - "We couldn't keep him sound," admitted Sam - and his first outing at Barbury promised little more, the then five-year-old failing to pick up the bridle at any stage.
He then threw a splint, and after being off the track for over three months returned to score the first of his three victories, with only Mac Steamy able to get the better of him.
Sam is hoping that he will prove up to Hunter Chase standard this time.
Another home-bred, John Swinnerton's Rotablade, won his Maiden at Eyton, but not before giving his trainer a scare on his initial outing there at Easter. "He was unraced, and a bit green, and he got jumped into and walked through the first," explained Sam. "He was hopping lame, and I thought he'd broken a leg. But the next day he was sound."
Rotablade is likely to be at his best on decent ground, and should be able to progress through the ranks. Both he and Mister Tiger could make their seasonal debuts at Chaddesley.
Cobbler's Rest, a son of Snurge, who ran without distinction in two Bumpers for Jonjo O'Neill, was an inexpensive purchase at Doncaster 18 months ago. Sam was hoping to run him last season but due to a few slight problems made the decision to call a halt in February, and he was roughed off.
A straightforward sort who is doing everything right to date, he needs soft ground, and won't be out until late January or February.
The fourth member of Sam's team is the unraced Vinceson, a four-year-old by Vinnie Roe who is considered by his trainer to be the nicest he's had. It was Sam's intention to give him an outing earlier this year, but as he ran up light he was turned away. Giving him the time off may have proved a blessing in disguise, as he has grown over the summer.
He is very sharp and was difficult to break, but is doing nothing wrong so far, "Although he turns himself inside out most days," smiled Sam.
He is also pencilled in for a run at Chaddesley where, if breeding is anything to go by, the three mile trip should not be a problem. "I'd rather run over three miles first time anyway," Sam commented. "It gives them more time to settle and organise themselves."