Shropshire-based Ben Bromley has plenty of reasons to be looking forward to the start of the forthcoming British point-to-point season.
Bromley, 18, has become the most senior rider at Phil Rowley's yard near Much Wenlock after Alex Edwards became a conditional jockey earlier this year, and he is certain to be partnering three classy former chasers owned by his parents, Anthony and Anna. They are Vivaldi Collonges (pictured above with Bromley and his father Anthony) and the ex-Nicky Henderson-trained pair of Valtor and Dragon D'Estruval, who were winning chases in France before many of their British contemporaries had been broken in. Vivaldi Collonges is about to start his fourth season on the pointing circuit.
While gaining from competing against professionals in recent months, Bromley says: "I'm definitely going to be riding in point-to-points in order to get as much experience as possible in the new season. Hopefully I get to ride the majority of Phil's horses, although some owners will want to use other riders and I accept that – there are lots of young horses coming through, and while some of them could run under Rules [in the name of Rowley's wife, Mel] others will be going pointing."
There has been a changing of the guard among the equine residents at Rowley HQ, with the outstanding hunter chaser Hazel Hill having been retired and Wishing And Hoping moving into Mel's yard to run in handicap and veterans' chases. Replacing such talent is not easy, but it will be interesting to see if a change of scene can reinvigorate Valtor, now a 12-year-old who achieved a rating high of 160 while with Henderson, and who has won £482,000 in prizemoney on either side of the Channel.
Bromley says: "I rode him at Sedgefield and then Perth earlier in the summer and he is still performing well. He'll be going pointing and it will be interesting to see how he gets on having moved to Phil's yard.
"Vivaldi Collonges has been a legend. He gave me my first ride in points and my first winner, and while he's a 12-year-old he's still youthful. He's won six races for us.
"I wouldn't be where I am without Phil and Mel, who have done everything to help me, and Alex [Edwards] has been a fantastic help as well. He gives good advice and suggests things I might have done differently in races, but more as mates now."
And what about his dad, Anthony, who as a bloodstock agent has bought some of the finest hurdlers and chasers to look through a bridle? "Dad gets very involved," says his son. "He's already looking at races and trying to find the best opportunities – he's very keen."