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.
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