THE Waley-Cohen family regained the Lord Ashton of Hyde’s Cup as the prolific Rumbavu prevailed at the Savills Heythrop Point-to-Point on Sunday, held for the first time at Cocklebarrow, writes Andrew Norman.
Spectators, including a who’s who of National Hunt racing, turned out in their droves to support the inaugural meeting at the venue.
In a thrilling finish to the day’s feature, Sam Waley-Cohen galvanised his mount to deny staying-chase veteran King Fontaine by a neck.
Owner/trainer Robert Waley-Cohen, who landed the prize in 2008 with Irilut, said: “I’m absolutely delighted – how fabulous to win by a neck after 3m 6f! He’s really enjoying his pointing at the moment so I’d like to target the classic races with him – they still mean something. The Coronation Cup at Larkhill (Feb 8) will be on the agenda.”
Like Rumbavu, Moscow Blaze made it two from two this season after galloping his rivals into ground in the William Powell Ladies' Open (3m 3f).
Owner/trainer/rider Page Fuller (18) considers the eight-year-old, purchased for a bargain £1,100 as a five-year-old, to be a contender for the AGA Ladies' Open Final at Stratford in May.
The BA Hull Restricted, the first race to be run at the new course, was landed by Oh Toodles, trained by Shropshire-based Caroline Robinson and ridden by daughter Immy.
The seven-year-old son of Milan battled tenaciously past Annieegan on the run-in. However, the Zara Phillips-trained Devils Boys was still travelling well before taking a heavy fall when leading four out.
Chiquilline made a winning return between the flags, proving too classy for his six rivals in the Knight Frank Hunt Members' race.
The eight-year-old looked a useful prospect when winning on this card in 2012 before having a spell with Richard Lee under rules last season. Now back in the care of former handler Tom Lacey, he is likely to upgrade to hunter chases before long.
Owner Tessa Blazey, who recorded her only success as a rider at the Heythrop in 1996, said: “I’ve just moved back to the area and wanted to bring him back locally. He may go hunter chasing at some stage but this looked a sensible starting point."
Owner/breeder Peter Corbett’s dynasty continued as Upton Venture scored at the second time of asking in division two of the Marriotts Property LLP six-year-olds and over Open Maiden race.
The six-year-old was driven out by Rob Jarrett to deny He’s A Black Sheep by a length. The winner’s dam is 26-time winner Upton Adventure, who was also bred by Corbett.
Trainer Jeremy Mahot, who rode the gelding when fifth on debut last year, said: “Peter is a true supporter of point-to-pointing and it’s super to win at a new course. He showed promise at Bitterley and is an exciting horse for the future.”
The first division, completed ten seconds slower, went the way of four-length victor Irish Anthem as rider Paddy Gerety made up for being narrowly denied in the Mens' Open.
The winner, trained by Sheila Crow for longstanding owner Derek Pugh, arrived at Hardwicke Stables after being placed three times in five starts in Ireland.
Crow said: “This was our first runner of the season so it’s the perfect start. I wanted to go to the Yorkshire today but Paddy persuaded me to come here – even though this looked the more difficult option!”
Clerk of the Course Nick Phillips was rewarded for his efforts by guiding Cousin Pete to a popular success in the first division of the King’s Head Inn At Bledington four, five, six and seven-year-olds Open Maiden (2m 4f).
The horse is named after Ablington trainer/rider Pete Mason, with whom Phillips is cousins, and trained by Elizabeth Brown, who was saddling her first ever runner.
Owner Scilla Phillips, mother of Nick, said: “I’m over the moon. He’s a home-bred and when he was born, Pete had just had his first winner as a trainer so we named him after him. Hopefully he can run at our local hunt, the VWH, at Siddington in March.”
The Weston family’s Star Of Massini profited from a patient ride in division two, breezing past long-time leader Kilcrea Mill up the straight. The seven-year-old, formerly with Seamus Mullins, was picked up for £4,400 by trainer/rider Tom Weston at Ascot in July.
The Antonia Bealby-trained Bench Warrent justified favouritism in the Carter Jonas PPORA Club Members' race for Novice Riders under Tom Chatfield-Roberts. A winner of two similar events last season, the son of Witness Box looks set for another fruitful campaign.