Ashton Keynes owner continues the Oaksey racing legacy
NINE DAYS after the memorial service to Lord Oaksey in his home village, his racing colours were carried to an exciting and emotional victory at Cheltenham on Sunday.
The former leading amateur rider, top racing journalist and founder of the Injured Jockeys’ Fund was also a small-scale racehorse breeder.
‘The Noble Lord’ lived long enough to see the greatest success by one of his home-breds when Carruthers lifted the Hennessy Gold Cup last November at Newbury.
On Sunday, at Cheltenham’s Open Meeting, Carruthers’ five-year-old half-brother Coneygree, named after a field at Oaksey’s Hill Farm home, gave notice that he is a tremendous prospect when winning a Grade 2 novices’ hurdle.
The win took his career record to three wins in four starts and he is unbeaten over hurdles.
Enjoying every moment in the winners’ enclosure was Ashton Keynes resident Alan Waller.
Alan was one of the original six-strong syndicate (along with Lord Oaksey) which owned and raced Plaid Maid, the dam of both Carruthers and Coneygree.
They have continued to race the dam’s offspring, although the group has now swollen to ten.
Like Plaid Maid and Carruthers, the latest star off the production line is trained by Oaksey’s son-in law Mark Bradstock and ridden by Mattie Batchelor.
“I was totally gobsmacked by Coneygree’s victory,” insisted Waller. “I know he had won his previous start by 20 lengths, but he was really thrown in the deep end at Cheltenham.
“He is a bigger and more robust horse than Carruthers. The conditions were extremely testing at Cheltenham, but he won by seven lengths pulling away.
“He has the same engine as his older brother but, dare I say it, a touch more class. That victory on Sunday was for Lord O.
“At the moment, Coneygree is being aimed at the Albert Bartlett Hurdle over three miles at the Festival meeting in March, a race in which Carruthers disappointed at the same stage in his career.
“Coneygree is going to be put away now until Trials Day at Cheltenham in January. But, hopefully, we can start dreaming all over again.”
The owners have still not ruled out a defence of the Hennessy Gold Cup by Carruthers, even though he finished last under the burden of 11st 12lb in a race at Cheltenham on Saturday.