961 days: story of frustration ends in Ludlow winner
54 runners went to post for our most recent 7 race card earlier this week, and they may well have included the training performance of the year.
Demnat could do little wrong in his first season’s racing in France back in 2020-21, clocking up a Conditions hurdle and a first chase win on debut in a 4 year olds only contest for top trainer François Nicolle. Since then, the son of Doctor Dino has disappeared from view, testing the patience of French owners Genetique Obstacle.
Enter stage left wizard trainer Venetia Williams, to whom the horse was transferred under new ownership in January of this year. A week later, after an absence of 961 days, Charlie Deutsch had only to shake up his mount to win the feature Attwood Memorial Trophy Handicap Chase over 2m 4f to win by 15l.
In fairness, it looks like much of the work has been accomplished south of la Manche, but Caradoc Court is bursting at the seams with quality bloodstock from France. This was the stable’s 42nd winner of the term, and Demnat is one of 12 horses in the yard rated 140+ – a proper powerhouse found quite rarely nowadays outside Seven Barrows, Ditcheat, Closutton or Cullentra House. Small wonder that Venetia finds herself 4th in the Trainers’ Championship behind only Messrs Nicholls, Henderson, and Skelton.
Not so long ago, Williams’ appointed rider was languishing in gaol for a misjudgement whilst behind the wheel. This 32nd winner of the season for Charlie Deutsch shows the esteem in which he is now held among his peer group and the racing fraternity at large. he is widely acknowledged as one of the most intelligent horsemen in the Weighing Room.
The day’s other chase reflected the talents of someone at the opposite end of the trainers’ spectrum. Emma-Jane Bishop trains in Naunton, where the dual powerhouses of Nigel Twiston-Davies and Ben Pauling rule the roost. Her small team fits into one barn, where 9 year old French-bred Force de Frap has been flying the flag to give her two winners this season, the most recent in a gripping finish to the Visit Racingtv Handicap Chase over the shorter 2m.
Leading on the line, rider James Best, fresh from his first Grade I triumph on Nickle Back at Sandown on Saturday, conjured enough to touch off 9/4 favourite Abingworth a short head. In truth, neither deserved to lose.
Continuing the French theme, Gary Moore returned to Ludlow with his juvenile winner Royal Way from our January fixture. The bay gelding, who turns 4 on March 20, has found a liking for Ludlow, leading from the off, and finding extra speed from two out to set sail for home. He was headed by Ben Ffrench-Davis’ Ithaca’s Arrow but found extra to land the spoils on the line by a short head and justify his 10/11 favouritism. Hats off to Niall Houlihan for a peachy ride.
Ballycrystal maiden Point-to-Point winner Rossbridge has done little wrong since joining Donald McCain in the autumn. A distant third in a bumper told the team little other than the gelding may not appreciate heavy ground. Leading from the off here on a better surface in the EBF Qualifier (Novices Hurdle), rider Theo Gillard always had enough in the tank to fend off The Grey Man and Jackpot Cash, with distances of 3l and 2 1/4l.
The final chase of the day featured the first of Ludlow’s hunter chases, the Meredith Memorial Open Hunters. A false pace with no-one keen to make it resulted in Huw Edwards on Captain Tommy making the running, and that’s where he stayed, even after challenges were thrown down by Shang Tang and Tea Clipper. As always at this level, a winner is worth following, and it should come as no surprise to see the pairing back here again.
Two mares races comprised the remainder of the card. In the first, Della Casa Lunga, running this term for Clive Boultbee-Brooks after a purchase out of Sam Curling’s yard in Ireland, found her first winning way in the UK calendar with a 3l victory in the 2m 5f Handicap Hurdle over Let’s Go To Vegas and locally-trained Royal Renaissance.
And in the concluding Mares Maiden Hurdle, Alex Hales produced Looking As You Are under Harry Bannister to outstay Queshi Bridge by 1 1/4l.