Event reports


  • Posted: Wednesday, 3rd April 2024
  • Author: Russell Smith
  • Photo: Olivia Pile

AMATEUR jockey Martin McIntyre celebrated a century of point-to-point winners with victory on Rocky Creed in front of a big crowd at the Old Berkshire Hunt meeting at Lockinge, near Wantage, on Easter Monday.

The 33-year-old rider reached the milestone after completing a double on the day following an earlier success on Douglas Longbottom, with the pair giving trainer Bea Coward her first double.

He took up the running at the second-last on Rocky Creed in the second division of the Charles Russell Speechlys Maiden, and the The Barrow Street Racing Club-owned six-year-old swept clear to pass the post 10 lengths ahead of Modder River and Jack Teal.

Reflecting on reaching the landmark, McIntyre, who is based with David Pipe at Nicholashayne in Somerset, said: "It's very special. I've got to try and catch Phil York - I've only got 303 more to go!

"I had my first winner for Richard Barber at Milborne St Andrew (on Barneys Mate in 2013). It was down to him, Jack Barber and Chris Barber who got me going at the start."

Rocky Creed was bought for £30,000 at Goffs Doncaster Sale last May, and Coward, who trains at Mere in Wiltshire, said: "We got this one at the same time as Douglas. He came third in Ireland in his only race and has just had a few niggly problems, but he has enjoyed this better ground here."

On going described as Good, Good to Soft in places, but riding a little dead, 59 runners lined up in the seven races to provide the Bank Holiday racegoers with some excellent action.

McIntyre believes Douglas Longbottom has a big future after the six-year-old ran out an impressive winner of the Dubarry of Ireland Restricted.

Taking up the running going to the last in the 2m 5f contest, the son of Helmet shot clear to gallop powerfully through the line and record a 10-length verdict over Penniless and Gina Andrews.

McIntyre said: "He did it very well. It was never in doubt. I think he could go to the top. It was a good show and a good training performance by Bea."

Coward, who trains Douglas Longbottom for her aunt Catherine Mitchell, commented: "He has run four times and had two good seconds and two wins. Both seconds were to really good horses - Regatta de Blanc and Wolf Walker. He will probably go to the Restricted Final at Stratford."

Charlie Case was happy to come in for the ride on Deise Aba in the Webbs Builders Merchants Mixed Open with the 11-year-old's regular partner, Zac Baker, going to Paxford where he struck on In Our Dreams to initiate an across-the-card double for trainer Francesca Poste.

Case tracked What A Glance and Murray Dodd on the Hemmings Racing-owned gelding, before collaring that rival on the run-in to win by two lengths and claim the Lockinge Challenge Cup.

The winning rider said: "He does just what he had to do, hence as soon as the other horse came to him, he has gone away again and won with a bit in hand.

"My last winner was at the start of February, so it's nice to get another one and thanks to Zac for going to Paxford. He's also had a winner, so it's worked out for both of us."

Deise Aba was pulled up at Badbury Rings last time out, and Poste, who trains at Ettington, near Stratford, said: "I think he likes better ground. All his form is on soft ground, but I think that pulls them around and their old joints can't cope with it as they used to. He might go for the four-mile race at Cheltenham."

Southfield Theatre won the Mixed Open in 2019 and made light of his 16 years by returning to take the opening Moss Fallon Solicitors Old Berkshire Hunt Members, Subscribers & Farmers Race.

Lily Bradstock, who trains the admirable veteran at nearby Letcombe Bassett, set out to make all the running on the Angela Yeoman-gelding, before shrugging off the challenge of All Loved Up and Hugh Lillingston to score by 10 lengths with last year's winner, Terrierman, and Nick Romain, third.

Bradstock said: "He is just wonderful. He is a sweet character, but a bit mad and just loves being a racehorse. He is a legend and needs to be doing this."

With her charge still showing plenty of enthusiasm, there are no retirement plans. "We will just see," she added. "He does exactly want he wants to do. We may find a ladies' open for him."

The victory also came with a certain poignancy, being a first winner since her father, Mark, passed away last month. "He would have loved to be here," she said. "He loved this horse like we all do."

Veteran Phil York notched a belated first winner of the season when Cusp Of Carabelli sprang a 20-1 surprise in the Luck Greayer Bloodstock Shipping Keeper-Jockey Conditions Race (Level 2).

The 57-year-old rider jumped Tim Underwood's Irish import up alongside the front-running Myth Buster and Bradstock over the last two fences, before his mount pulled out more on the run-in to score by two lengths with the same distance back to Fama Et Gloria in third.

Formerly useful under rules for Co Kilkenny handler David M O'Brien, the 11-year-old had been pulled up on both his starts this season since joining Underwood's Beedon stables, near Newbury.

York said: "To be fair he has deserved to do it because he was so good under rules in Ireland. Tim told me after Charing he had a blood test, and it was all wrong."

Underwood, who collected the George Collier Challenge Cup once again after previous successes with Tempelpirate (twice), Timmie Roe and Skipthecuddles, was registering just his second winner of the campaign.

"Everything I have run this season has been pulled up," he said. "I have had a virus in the yard, and it has affected the horses.

"I ride him work every day and I just knew he had started to come back to himself. He was bought through Martin Oliver."

Rookie rider Tom Hutsby posted his third winner with a runaway victory on Shoal Bay for his trainer-father, Fred, in the Bear at Wantage (Arkell's Brewery) Conditions Race (Level 2).

The 16-year-old had opened his account on the Marcine Marshall-owned gelding at Ampton last month, and the combination followed up in style, coming home 30 lengths clear of A Jet of Our Own and Fred Philipson-Stow.

Tom said: "He winged the cross-fence and that put me in the lead. I took it from there. He was bowling along and galloping."

Fred, who trains at Wellesbourne in Warwickshire, added: "He did it well and is a class horse on his day."

The trainer and owner had combined to take the open with Zee Man 12 months ago, and Marshall commented: "Fred, who trains him, is amazing. We are just absolutely thrilled. He looked a picture, and I am so excited."

Elliott England got off the mark for the season on just his second ride of the campaign with victory on Sforza Castle for his boss Ben Pauling in the first division of the Charles Russell Speechlys Maiden - the first time it had been split since 2013.

The six-year-old son of Milan, owned by the Naunton trainer's wife, Sophie, took up the running five from home and had matters in hand when his nearest pursuer, O'Halloran's Castle, unseated at the last, leaving the staying-on Windgap Hill and York to take second, two lengths adrift.

England said: "It is good to nick one like that for my boss. That's my first winner for him."

Assistant trainer Tom David, representing Pauling, said of the winner: "Barry Geraghty sourced him a few years ago and he was placed in maiden hurdles. This is his game. He will win a few point-to-points."

The meeting was preceded by two pony races, sponsored by Pinewood School, with brothers Oliver and Harry Vigors, 12 and 14 respectively, from Aldbourne, near Marlborough, making it a family double with wins on Little Anne and Miss Millfield.