04 April 2011 Scene & Heard: United Pack - Brampton Bryan
by Carolyn Tanner
Fourty Acers, successful over hurdles and fences for David Manning when trained by David Pipe, made a winning debut between the flags under Josh Hamer, making every yard of the running in the Men's Open and never looking likely to be overhauled.
"This is my 41st winner and it's the best of the lot," said the delighted owner, referring to the fact that his daughter Samantha shares the training with her boyfriend Lee Enstone.
Fourty Acers returned to David for the summer last year, and Samantha, who produces show horses, and Lee, a former flat jockey, asked if they could train him for Pointing. Lee retired from the saddle in 2009 when weight became an issue, and he now rides out for Donald McCain, whose gallops Fourty Acers uses and for whom Josh is amateur rider.
Breathing problems have prevented Whistling Straits from building on his early successes, but a wind operation at the beginning of the season, plus the fitting of a visor, appear to have turned things around. A close runner-up on his previous outing, he went one better in the Ladies' Open under a confident ride from Immy Robinson, granddaughter of owner Pat Beasley.
Immy's mother Caroline, who trains Whistling Straits, was stewarding at Uttoxeter, but her father, ex-trainer Michael Robinson, was on hand to supervise. "He's had a few nips and tucks, and anything that will help," laughed Michael of the chestnut, "and he needs things to go his own way."
Immy is a first-year student at St John's College, Oxford, where she is reading geography. "I took my saddle with me the first term, but found that I didn't have time to go and ride out anywhere, so I spend hours in the gym," she explained.
"I don't think for one minute that Immy's going to get off him and let a man on him!" Michael's response to the question "Will he stick with Ladies' races?"
Another absent trainer was Hugh Wilson, whose Arbour Hill won the Restricted in the hands of Mark Wall. Hugh, a wildlife film documentary producer, was working in London, and was represented by his father Guy, paying a first visit to Brampton Bryan.
"He's had some foot trouble," said Guy of Arbour Hill, who was pulled up and dismounted last time out, "but he likes the sun on his back."
Mark voiced his appreciation of the consideration shown him by the Wilsons. "They're always prepared to listen to any suggestions I make regarding where the horses run, and they try to fit in with my riding arrangements," he said.
Mike Daniell admitted that he had considered packing up when Sue Greenaway, who helps with the training, broke her leg prior to the start of the yard's campaign, but with no shortage of people rallying round, including farrier Ryan Potter, his perseverance paid off when he saddled Mervyn Jones's Pickersleigh to win the 3m Maiden under Sam Drinkwater. Pickersleigh was recommended to Mervyn by former jockey Denis Leahy and was bought privately in Ireland last year.
"She a genuine little performer, all heart," enthused Mike of his charge who, he admitted, had run away with him the first time he sat on her. "But she's learned to settle," he added, "and Sam has been a great help with schooling."
13 years earlier owner and trainer had teamed up to win the Interlink Express Restricted Championship at Stratford with Kingsthorpe.
Later that night Mike and his wife Jo, who bred the useful performer Neptune Equester, had more cause for celebration when one of their mares produced a colt foal by Blueprint.
35 minutes later there was the biggest reception of the day for Mervyn's cousin Heather Chapman, who was in the winner's enclosure with her home-bred Coddington Lass, successful in the 2m4f Maiden for the trainer-rider team of Sarah-Jayne Davies and Jeremy Mahot.
"A real aeroplane" is how Sarah-Jayne described the five-year-old. "She's very busy and keen, a typical Sir Harry Lewis," she said. "She's trained mostly from the field and she's happy as a lark. And she does eat well - she's fed like a barley bull!"
Coddington Lass's dam Coddington Girl won three races for Heather, including her Restricted on this track in 2000, and two more of her offspring should appear in due course. One is a six-year-old who has met with a setback so will not be out this year, and the other is an unbroken three-year-old.
Unfortunately joint-owner Antonia Deuters, for whom it was an initial Point-to-Point success, was unable to be present. Antonia is better known in flat racing circles - one of the best horses owned by herself and her late husband Chris, a former President of the Racehorse Owners' Association, was Selhurstpark Flyer, a dual winner of Ascot's Wokingham Stakes.
Tom Weston, successful in two hurdle races in the past seven days, kept up his winning run by taking the opening Confined on Ruari, whose owner Clive Bennett was a steward at the meeting. "We had our best year ever last year, but this is our first winner of this season," said Clive, whose string has been under the weather with coughing.
Ruari has had his share of problems and is lightly-raced as a consequence. "He suffers with his joints, but unfortunately he takes plenty of work to get fit, which isn't ideal," admitted trainer Emma Alvis.
Tom was confident that Ruari would have reeled in the leader Somewin, whose mistake four out gave Kelsie Willis no chance of staying on board. He was just one of the many riders who voiced their appreciation of the work done on the course, which had been evenly watered to produce good ground.