The Midlands point–to-point season came to its scheduled end with the running of the Meynell & South Staffs meeting at Garthorpe on Saturday.
This unusual season saw six meetings rather than the usual 14, but we saw lots of entries and plenty of runners, as well as some impressive performances. Many thanks to all those connections who travelled the length and breadth of the country to contribute in different ways to our meetings. We hope you summer well and look forward to seeing you at the start of next season.
David Kemp finished off a stunning season for his string by securing a treble, not just on the day but in consecutive races. Two of these were ridden by Dale Peters who was challenging for the Midlands leading rider title with Jack Andrews.
The Oriental Owner-Trainer Conditions race kicked off the sunny afternoon’s entertainment and provided victory for the 10-year-old Milan gelding Earlshill, owned and trained by Jane Burton and ridden by daughter Lucy. This was the first of several very tight finishes across the card as Earlshill was a length behind Idee de Garde, ridden by Pippa Taylor, over the last and had to dig deep on the run-in to win by a head. Order In Court, the mount of George Henderson, led for much of the race but ran out of steam with a couple left to jump, coming in third.
The PPORA Members Conditions race provided the first of David Kemp’s wins on the day when Alex Chadwick partnered a very generously-priced How To Get Away to a four-length victory over favourite Bingo Star (Jack Andrews). This was the winner’s second Garthorpe win this season - having previously won his maiden at the April meeting - and a very fast one at that, with the winning time coming in at less than six minutes. Bingo Star finished four lengths behind the winner, while Roc D’Apsis was six lengths third behind them.
Rebel Dawn Rising, a half-brother to How To Get Away, was the next David Kemp-trained winner, this time ridden by Dale Peters and in the Intermediate. The seven-year-old has hit some form here at Garthorpe, having won here last time out in a restricted contest, and this was an impressive nine-length victory, having never been challenged.
The Mixed Open attracted a lot of interest. Hawkhurst had won here last time out under Izzie Marshall, who seemed to have got the hang of how to ride this tricky customer. General Arrow had two firsts and a second this year with Gina Andrews, and Badbad Leroy Brown’s only defeat in his last three runs was to Horse & Hound Cup winner Law Of Gold. The unknown quantity in the field was Caryto des Brosses, a seasoned pointer and hunter chase winner that was last seen being pulled up at Thorpe Lodge 18 months ago. The horse was suffering from ulcers and has had plenty of time off to recover since. That didn’t stop him going off as joint-favourite with Badbad Leroy Brown (Zac Baker) here though, but that was where the latter’s challenge ended. Dale Peters led the race from flag to flag on the French-bred nine-year-old and won impressively by 13 lengths from Badbad Leroy Brown in second and Hawkhurst in third, some seven lengths further back.
“It really was an experiment,” David Kemp explained, “and we really didn’t know what to expect from him this time. This has been an amazing couple of weeks, what with [winning the Horse & Hound Cup at] Stratford and now a treble here. It will be back out to the herbs in the morning though.”
The Novice Riders Conditions race nearly ended with a lead being thrown away on the line as hot favourite Chameron, with Ben Sutton on board, veered left on the run-in towards the exit gate, making their race longer in the process. Emma Freeman, on the 25/1 shot Perpignan, and Billy Chatterton, riding Minella Friend, stayed high on the track and took the more direct route and very nearly snatched it on the line, with less than two lengths separating the three horses. It was certainly a talking point for a while afterwards.
The penultimate race, the Maiden, provided another great finish. This time, Zac Baker and Dan’s Cross jumped the last with a lead of about a length from Gina Andrews and Universal Run but after that we saw a strong challenge from Will Thirlby aboard Millstone and the three got closer as they reached the line. The result was given to Dan’s Cross, but second and third were so close it was anybody’s guess. The Judge eventually gave second place to Millstone, while Universal Run took third. This time less than a length separated first and third.
Finally, the point-to-point Flat Race for four- and five-year-old horses was won by the previously unraced, British-bred four-year-old Tango Pete and this year’s champion jockey James King. Ben Bromley and Roxyana were second, with Dale Peters and Friend A Mine back in third.
Two pony races took place after the horses had finished. The 138cm race was won by Albert Mann on Bombay Moonstone and the 148cm race by Scarlett Frank and Judge Fox.
Midlands Area awards were presented at the end of racing as all the winners were at the meeting. Leading Rider was won by Jack Andrews, with Dale Peters a single point behind. Dale, though, had Leading Trainer sewn up to make up for it, while Leading Horse was won by the Chattertons’ Minella Friend. This year, in memory of Mark Barthorpe, a new trophy was presented by his widow, Pat. The Barthorpe Trophy is awarded to the jockey registered outside the area who accrues the most points when racing at Midlands meetings, and was won, appropriately, by James King.