Dymock-based Lucy Smith keeps hitting the bar with her Irish nine year old Pointer/hunter chaser, and so it was again today at Stratford, as Gottagottagetaway had no answer to another Gloucestershire novice in Fergal O'Brien's I'm Wiser Now in the point-to-point.co.uk Novices Hunters' Chase.
There were more folk in the paddock to see this race than almost all the other races put together, illustrating the pent-up appetite for Point-to-Point racing to return at the end of the month. And in truth, it was a pretty eventful race, even before flagfall.
13/8 favourite Golden Tabouggan, trained by Julie Wadland, sweated up in the preliminairies and was taken to post early by Alex Edwards. Even so, he did a very successful job of winding up the rest of the field, even to the extent of kicking smart maiden pointer Maitre Express, owned by Robert Waley-Cohen, which was withdrawn with a sore shoulder. The starter was glad to have them away.
Golden Tabouggan made the early running with Tom Barton, and Lightonthemountain, Gottagottagetaway was well placed in mid division by Paul O'Brien, but took closer order as runners began to fall away from 4 out. Three out he'd gone second, but was outpaced as they rounded the turn toward the final fence, where I'm Wiser Now took the inner berth to overtake long time leader Golden Tabouggan and go on to win by 5 1/2l. Gottagottagetaway was 1/2l back in third.
The nine year old seems destined always to fill the minor berths. In four runs this season, he's never finished out of the frame, but there's always one too good in front. One can't help but feel that when Point-to-Point racing returns on March 29, an opportunity will arise if the fields start thinning out. At the moment, no-one quite knows how many horses will remain to fill the 50 or so fixtures scheduled to mid June.
Lucy however, is no stranger to the sport, having understudied Sam Jukes for some time. With Jukes now tilting at the professional game, Lucy has taken on the pointers at the Dymock yard that has sent out so many Clive Bennett winners in recent years. And you can't improve on the yard's 100% record in Point-to-Points this season - 1 from 1 at the Avon Vale last December, before lockdown 3 forced a switch to Hunter chases.
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