Isla’s Dream made British point-to-point history for owner/trainer Tom Malone at Buckfastleigh in Devon yesterday when becoming the first horse to win a JRL Group Flat race, and then a maiden point-to-point.
The five-year-old mare landed a JRL Group Flat Race at Barbury Racecourse in December, a victory that would have ruled her out of maiden point-to-points until a change to the Regulations during the close season – until then her next option would have been a restricted race, although that was not popular with some owners and trainers who felt it was too big a leap for a horse who had yet to jump fences.
At Buckfastleigh Isla's Dream was one of five runners in The Jockey Club Mares Open Maiden Race, and she opened her account over jumps by two lengths, under the guidance of Will Biddick. Her moment of history making was narrow, however, for in the previous race, a confined maiden, the Leslie Jefford-trained Merchant House attempted to achieve the same feat. He won the second division of the JRL Group Flat Race at Barbury in December, but finished second yesterday on his first start over fences.
Bloodstock agent and point-to-point trainer Malone (pictured above) had a busy weekend. He saddled The Last But One to win two open races at Wadebridge on Saturday – one was a walkover – and then ran the horse again 24 hours later at Buckfastleigh where he finished second in the mixed open.
Speaking of the two horses, Malone said: "I bought Isla's Dream as a three-year-old store [for €33,000] but she was backward and weak last year, so I decided to keep her to have a bit of fun with. She was a big, strapping mare, as you would expect for a filly who cost €33,000.
"I didn't feel she had done enough when winning the bumper, but now she's won over two miles on good to firm ground and a three-mile staying point-to-point over jumps – the times of the races were around seven minutes – so she's proved herself and I would think we will sell her now.
"The Last But One only had a canter round to win at Wadebridge, came home, ate up his feed and was bouncing, so I decided to run him again. If he'd shown he was tired I would have left him at home, but we knew there was only one horse to beat [at Buckfastleigh]. We finished second but the horse is fine and he ran another cracking race."