Ben Pauling bought the top-priced British pointer at last week's Tattersalls April sale to race under Rules next season.
Scotch on Da Rocks, a four year old, was sold to Tessa Greatrex of Highflyer Bloodstock, from Tom & Gina Ellis, leading proponents of improving horses through the Pointing field. Scotch On Da Rocks was a winner at Mollington earlier this month, contributing to the unassailable lead Ellis has built up in the Trainers' Championship.
At £80,000, he was some way the most expensive of the British Pointers sold through the day. Ellis bought him last summer for just £15,000.
Other horses of note to arrive at Gloucestershire yards included Marton Abbey, trained in Yorkshire by Cherry Coward, headed for Kim Bailey, knocked down for £24,000. Cotswold neighbour Charlie Longsdon will train Dingley winner, Lyrical Genius, sold out of Chris Barber's Somerset yard for £32,000.
Meanwhile, after a week's reflection, the counter drops back to zero for the professionals when the season restarts at Uttoxeter on Saturday.
Berkeley winner Stay Out Of Court achieved his first Rules victory in a Novices Handicap Chase at Exeter this evening for Adrian Wintle, who trains the other side of the river bend from Woodford.
The former Irish Pointer, who came to the UK on the back of two promising seconds in Ireland, won his Maiden at Hereford's Point-to-Point course in April 2018, before graduating to a victory in a Restricted at the Berkeley the following year when ridden by Zac Baker.
This time, ridden by Ciaran Gethings, the 11 year old gelding, a Rooney cast-off, tracked the leaders from the off, took close order in second half way through, and was ridden to lead on the run-in to win by 1/2 l.
Wintle is enjoying a good April following a winner at Wolverhampton earlier in the month.
Meanwhile, horses from the area are well represented in the last of the Point-to-Point classic, at Chaddesley tomorrow. The Lady Dudley Cup is the most prestigious of the classics, outside the three principal Foxhunter races at Cheltenham, Aintree and Stratford.
The rules on attending have recently been relaxed so owners are now able to attend, which is good news for those who hold entries in the centrepiece of the Worcestershire fixture, where all bar two of the 20 entries have a rating of over 100.
Phil Rowley has won this race three times in the last decade and holds a strong hand as he attempts to do so again with Hazel Hill, Salvatore and Vivaldi Collonges. Hazel Hill has the highest rating but was surprisingly beaten over the same course in December before winning a Hunter Chase at Ludlow and running fifth in the Cheltenham Foxhunters.
His long-term partner Alex Edwards is now professional and his replacement will do well to match Edwards' exploits on a horse he knew so well. Hazel Hill did better than his stablemate Salvatore who was pulled up in the Cheltenham showpiece, but the latter has an exemplary record between the flags and could atone here.
It is time the Welsh had another winner of the big race and their hopes rest with Premier Magic who caused a surprise at the Wheatland before Christmas and subsequently won a Hunter Chase at Leicester. With Bradley Gibbs stable in such fine form, he has to be added to the short list.
Ballyboker Breeze was favourite to beat Wishing and Hoping back in 2019 and his recent run at Maisemore shows he is no back number. Zac Baker, successful this evening at Exeter in another Hunters Chase, has every confidence in this horse and their combined strengths will be useful in a close finish.
Barney Dwan went down on his sword at Barbury last December but is held by Salvatore on their running at Didmarton back in March 2020 but Cotswoldian Sally Randall knows what is required to land this prize, and some of the Fergal O'Brien magic may yet rub off on Barney Dwan.
Ennistown won a Hunter Chase at Fakenham but struggled behind Hazel Hill at Ludlow and it is difficult making a case for him on what he has done so far and that remark also applies to Igor although the Waley-Cohens will be keen to repeat their win in the big race following Irilut’s success back in 2007.
Sausalito Sunrise won The Lord Ashton of Hyde Cup when it was last run in 2020, so stamina is not an issue and he showed his well-being with an easy success at Sandon recently. The Smith-Maxwells are another family keen to win this fabulous trophy so don’t be surprised if John Smith-Maxwell tests his rivals’ mettle and kicks on a long way from home.
Jason Warner, a man with strong Cotswold credentials, has run into a seam of form over Easter that is the envy of even the professional yards in our sport. Warner, also secretary of the Cotswold Vale Farmers Point-to-Point, is enjoying a purple patch as an owner and trainer with four winners since Good Friday at three fixtures.
A double at Higham on Friday afternoon, another winner less than 24 hours later during the North Staffordshire meeting at Sandon before finally causing one of the biggest upsets of the season at Dingley on Monday concluded a memorable weekend that saw the sport stage its first fixtures since before Christmas.
“Keep yourself in the best company and your horses in the worst” is an old racing adage but one which Warner is comfortable with as he explained after French Piece had completed his hat-trick following wins in a Pyle Maiden and a Llwyn Du Restricted in 2019.
“He was ready to run last year but needs good ground and then Covid struck”, Warner said later. “He came to me from David Bridgwater about three years ago. He was very immature but Luke Price has done a good job with him and he will come on for the run. He is not the easiest horse and that is why we do not have him at home. I am not sure how long this run will last, but we will enjoy it while we can”.
The winner made the running until going a couple of lengths clear of Donjon with a circuit to jump. Byron Moorcroft quickened the pace down the back straight and the partnership had more than doubled their advantage as they turned back towards home. Donjon tried his best on the climb to the second from home but French Piece had the race in his pocket despite running down the final obstacle.
As well as training himself Warner has horses based with others including Thumbstone Blues who is with James King. The 11-year-old won on the heavy at Cothelstone in 2020 but was not inconvenienced by firmer conditions when he became the first leg of a double for Gloucester owner in the Essex and Suffolk Veterans race at Higham on Saturday.
He was prominent throughout before leading at the 13th and had his rivals measure approaching the penultimate and had no difficulty holding the challenge of the favourite Mercers Court from that point.
Connections struck again in the Maiden, with Warner listed as the trainer of Ahead of the Game. King was content to bide his time on the ex-Paul and Claire Rooney gelding but after leading at the 15th went away to score easily by 12-lengths.
Warner seemed to ignore his own advice as he chose to take on the “red hot favourite” Fumet D’Oudairies in the 2-1/2 mile Mixed Open at Dingley on Monday. That policy paid off when Always Lion made it four wins from four runners for the owner when James King’s mount brought off one of the biggest upsets of the season.
All seemed to be going to plan for Andrews’ mount as Always Lion tracked the long-time leader Knockoutloaded before taking over the baton approaching four out, while Andrews was waiting to deliver his challenge.
Passing the three-mile start Fumet D’Oudairies had to be driven to maintain contact with his rival, who had secured the vital inside berth around the final bend. They challenged again approaching the final obstacle but Always Lion was quicker away and inched clear as his rival’s effort petered out in the final 50 yards, with Andrews explaining “the horse did not like the ground”.
As well as being the winning jockey, James King is also the trainer and he went on to explain “The horse has only had 10 runs in his life. He missed 2016 and 2018 and there were no obvious excuses for the runner up. Although he is 11-year-old he is still learning and he had run well at Larkhill earlier in the year.”
All power to a Gloucestershire owner-trainer enjoying his moment in the spotlight.
Pete Mansell is a Point-to-Point enthusiast who reports on all our fixtures in the West Midlands area.
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