Tide comes in for Williams and Todd
The week after Cheltenham is generally not punctuated by top quality racing, given the lure of big money prizes the previous week. Forty-one runners faced the starter in the 7 races hosted in glorious Spring sunshine at Ludlow yesterday on perfect racing ground to thrill a decent midweek crowd.
Ian Williams has had a quiet Jumps season by his exacting standards, but Tide Times was able to chivvy along that score in the feature event, the Bromfield Sand & Gravel Handicap Chase over 3m, to bring up his 24th winner of the term. This was a maiden chase win for the dashing grey, but his jumping is quite wayward, and rider Charlie Todd had to apply all his expertise as the 8 year old ran down his fences. A winner of a Point-to-Point at Buckfastleigh, Tide Times is further evidence that the British Pointing division is quite able to serve up quality horses to join the professional ranks. And you’ll be able to see just that at the Ludlow Point-to-Point races at Bitterley on April 2nd.
Foxtrot Racing is a successful syndicate which once again has produced an interesting newcomer in Whizz Kid, long odds-on favourite for the opening Shropshire Homes Novices Hurdle over the minimum trip. There was no surprise over his 9 1/2l win at odds of 1/6, but he’s shaping up into something a little special for trainer Dr Richard Newland.
Whizz Kid is a thoroughly international horse. Bred in Germany, he was a winner over 1m 3f at Hoppegarten, a proper galloping track, before switching from Andreas Wohler to Peter Schiergen, and a career in France. Bought out of the Arquana sale for €45,000, he has a big race in him, and will tilt next at an Aintree handicap, or the 2 mile Novices Hurdle Championship at Sandown to conclude the season. Either way, the syndicate is going to have a lot of fun.
For all that Newland has been training successfully for over 20 years, the trainer of Marettimo, winner of the second, has forgotten more about training than Newland may have learnt, in over 40 years of nurturing racehorses. No slick web site for Bill, a trainer of the old school, although he has relented enough to have a facebook page! That eschewing of modern communication methods doesn’t seem to have held him back; indeed, he sends Knowwhatimeanharry to tilt at the Brocklesby this weekend, hoping to win the juvenile dash for an extraordinary seventh time. Marettimo’s 8l win should assist in finding a new owner, as the horse is currently the property of Turner’s wife, Tracy.
Parents among the readers of this column will know the feeling as a son (or grandson) wins at school. That burst of pride was in abundance yesterday as Midnight Centurion landed the odds by a neck under Page Fuller in the Windsor Clive Maiden Hurdle, next up. Kate Austin, leader of the small syndicate owning the horse, saw him born in the early hours, and raised him at Broadwell Stud. There’s nothing to beat that satisfaction.
Just five lined up for the Ludlow Farm Shop Handicap Hurdle after the withdrawal of Petrastar on a Vet’s certificate and The Grey Falco on unsuitable ground. In a slowly run race, Just The Man under Kevin Brogan prevailed for Gloucestershire trainer John O’Shea, securing his fourth Jumps winner of the season. John’s efforts, like many nowadays, are focused on the Flat, although like Bill Turner, he is no spring chicken himself.
Martin Pipe struck up an enduring partnership with Peter Scudamore 20+ years ago, which included plenty of winners here at Ludlow. A generation on, Pipe the Younger has as fruitful a partnership with Peter’s son Tom, now one of the senior members of the Weighing Room. Gericault Roque came within 2 1/2l of winning the Ultima Handicap at Cheltenham last week, but Itacare was able to go one better in the EFG Harris Allday Handicap Hurdle to notch up Pipe’s 32nd winner this season, 18 of which have been partnered by Scudamore. It may not have the rat-tat-tat frequency of the older generation’s set up, but it’s equally effective.
Spectators enjoying the sunshine were’t in a hurry to leave as the 5 runners for the Lloyds Animal Feeds Hunters Chase faced the starter. David Maxwell, as one of our leading amateurs, has given himself a leg up through the purchase of many beautiful horses. As yet, a Festival success hasn’t materialized, but between the flags, and in hunter chases, he is impeccably mounted and Stratagem proved the latest French import to deliver, winning by 16l without the rider changing his hands. Expect more in this division from the Paul Nicholls’ trained winner.