Justin Landy, who has become the strike-rate king of point-to-pointing, today takes his first step as a licensed trainer.
Yorkshire-based Landy returns to Stratford with Meldrum Lad, who runs in a two-and-three-quarter mile handicap chase (2.40) having won the Skinner's Ladies' Open Point-to-Point Championship Final over the course and distance in late May. The horse is owned by Landy's mother, Pauline Southerington, (pictured with her son, above).
Becky Smith retains the ride today, and also partners the Landy-trained Jaxlight in an amateur riders' handicap hurdle (3.15). Yet Landy says his association with point-to-pointing is not over, and he will continue to train family horses when the season opens in November.
Reviewing the task facing Meldrum Lad he says: "I'm under no illusions that we're in against one or two of the big boys [top trainers], although I suppose it's got nothing to do with the names, and everything to do with the horses and jockeys once the race starts.
"They will all be fit, and now we just need Becky to ride the horse the same way again. Her way of riding him suits Meldrum Lad and has helped him a lot – she gets him detached for the first circuit, whereas he used to be very keen and fighting to be in the race. Now he comes with one run and we hope it works today and he gets a smooth round.
"Mum always said Becky would keep the ride if he ran in handicaps, and since there was an amateur riders' race on the cards, and Becky is as good an amateur as you will find, it all worked out. With luck we won't be far away."
Looking ahead he said: "The point-to-pointers will be coming back into work in the next ten days, and I can train them for myself and my immediate family [which is within the rules for licensed trainers]. Courtney [Tinkler, Landy's partner] will train one or two horses from a separate yard. We're looking forward to the new season."
Working with a small string, Landy, who doubles up as a farrier to leading Flat trainer Mark Johnston, enjoyed a terrific ratio of winners to runners in point-to-points. He trained one winner from three runners in his debut season of 2014/15, but the following year managed eight from eight, and another eight from ten in 2016/17. It was 12 from 19 in 2017/18, and another seven from eight last season. That gave him an overall strike-rate of 75 per cent, while he achieved an excellent 38 per cent with his hunters' chase runners, saddling seven winners from 18 who ran.