Henry Bailey, MFH, may be race riding for fun, but he is doing so on Jump racing’s greatest stage this evening.
Bailey, huntsman and joint-master of the Ludlow Hunt in Shropshire, partners his own Bob Ford in Cheltenham’s Lorna Brooke Open Hunters’ Chase (7.45), a four-mile test which will hopefully give the enthusiastic amateur a prolonged view of the magnificent racecourse. It will be his first ride in a hunters’ chase, and as 50/1 shots their chance of winning is slim. Fourteen-year-old Bob Ford is not the most straightforward of rides, but he gave Bailey a thrilling spin when leading the recent Lady Dudley Cup for much of the race before finishing unplaced.
He says: “I have no expectations and I’m looking forward to it. Laura [Richardson, Bob Ford’s trainer] tells me the horse is bouncing, but there’s no pressure. It’s an underdog story. I just want to get the start right and try to make the running, and it is good to be riding in a race that remembers Lorna Brooke.”
Bailey, who has ridden in eight point-to-points, had a handful of rides in 2017 and 2018 when hunting the Spooners & West Dartmoor hounds in Devon, and only returned to the sport this season. He has plans to secure another horse for next season, possibly in partnership with friends including Daniel Cherriman, who hunts the South Shropshire.
Henry Bailey and Bob Ford
He says: “We recognise people take part in pointing for various reasons, but we would like to put together a syndicate to show that people still participate in the sport for fun.”
Bob Ford ran in the 2015 Grand National under Paul Townend and completed all but the final two fences. He has won nine times from 51 starts in point-to-points and races under Rules.