Lily The Pink has been in the pink since landing Friday’s ITM Marketing Champion Point-to-Point Bumper at Stratford, where she scooped the winner’s prize money of £2,500 and a £3,000 added pay-out.
The additional cash came courtesy of the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association's 3-2-1 Bonus which has now completed two seasons, having been designed to encourage owners of fillies and mares to run them in races. At Stratford, Lily The Pink was the first filly or mare across the line, she was bred in Britain and her owner, Paul Nicholas, is a TBA member – each of those three elements was worth £1,000.
Four-year-old Lily The Pink, a daughter of Malinas and the Darnay mare Carigeen Queen, beat Rapaport – who had won the TBA's 3-2-1 Bonus in a Goffs UK-sponsored bumper at Aintree last month – and Shaltoo in a race dominated by females.
That included the winning jockey, amateur Leanda Tickle, who had announced in advance that the event would be her last before she quit race-riding to concentrate on her studies as a physiotherapist. The result was also a milestone for her brother Joe, a former point-to-point rider who trains Lily The Pink, and was enjoying a first success under Rules.
Joe reported the filly to be in great shape after the victory and, having schooled her over hurdles, plans to pop her over fences later this week before turning her away for a holiday. He said: "She's really well, but she still doesn't realise how good she is – we left home [in North Devon] at 1pm on Friday, but got stuck in horrible traffic and it took five hours to reach the course. She raced at 9pm, didn't get home until 2.30am, but when we turned her out she went for a trot and a canter. She had become quite revved up before the race, and I thought it would take more out of her."
Asked how his filly had managed to beat Rapaport having finished two places behind her at Aintree, Joe said: "I gave Leanda the wrong instructions at Aintree. When she won first time out [in a JRL Group Point-to-Point Flat Race at Bitterley] she was in front coming by the fourth fence from the finish, so at Aintree I told Leanda to make good use of her and go for home two furlongs out. At Stratford she got a poor start, but Leanda crept her into the race and took it up a furlong out. My first thought as she came back in was 'Dammit, if we'd ridden her like that at Aintree she might have won there, too'. At least the win reinforced my belief that she's a very good mare."
Post-race celebrations looked like falling flat, because the contest was the last on the card. Joe said: "By the time Danny [his partner] and I had washed her off and gone back to the Owners' and Trainers' Bar it was shut, but then I got a call from Will Biddick, whose been a mate for a long time, asking if we were having a celebratory drink. I said 'Everything's shut', but in true point-to-point style we still managed to pull a little party of people together in the car park, using a few cans of beer, a bottle of port Will had in his car and a Prosecco that Leanda was given for winning."
Asked about future training without his sister in the saddle, Joe said: "I was so delighted for Leanda I hadn't realised I had just trained my first winner under Rules. I have asked her why she's giving up when she's riding so well. You give up when you become too old, pregnant or you lose your bottle, and none of those apply to her."
Lily The Pink at Stratford, with Leanda & Joe Tickle on the right