We are continuing to look back at the 2019/20 point-to-point season and highlight some 'Moments of the season'. This latest video picks out the second of three consecutive wins for the eight-year-old MR SNUFFLES, at Chaddesley Corbett in February 2020...
Retired electrical engineer Don Constable has owned some good horses, and in Mr Snuffles he has another.
The eight-year-old does not come without some physical issues, but there are few better at unlocking the secrets of a horse than Cheshire-based trainer Joe O'Shea, and in the shortened 2019/20 season Mr Snuffles turned long-held potential into positive results.
Constable, who lives in Shropshire but who grew up in a family of Derbyshire coal miners, bought the son of Mr Dinos at Goresbridge in Ireland as a yearling for €1,150. He relied on Eddie Barry to advise on the purchase, and Christy Beamish to break the horse in, and says: "I've had some wonderful horses down the years and some fantastic advisors, but I would say to anyone, 'don't take too many opinions or you will get confused'."
Mr Snuffles made his debut for Zoe Hammond's stable in a point-to-point Flat race at Barbury Racecourse in January 2018, but broke a blood vessel next time he ran, and that same problem reoccurred later in the season, although a good second at Dingley was a clue to future triumphs. Constable says: "After Zoe and [husband] Mike packed up Joe rang me and said he would like to train a horse for me, and I said, 'Well I've got one [Mr Snuffles] out in a field – you can have him and if you can sell him for £1,500 to £2,000 that will suit me'. He took the horse and some time later rang back and said 'This horse is alright'.
"He made his debut for Joe [at Eaton Hall in November 2018] on my 70th birthday and I couldn't go, but the horse won, then had a foot problem and we couldn't get him right for the rest of the season.
"A year later we got him back on the track and took him to Cottenham, hoping he would win, but he didn't handle the bends and it turned out he had a corn. Joe got that right and he won three on the trot."
This week's Moments of the Season video shows Mr Snuffles under Huw Edwards fending off a sustained challenge from the useful mare Miss Seagreen in an intermediate race at Chaddesley Corbett in February. Mr Snuffles had finished third to the exceptional four-year-old Fumet D'Oudairies in the aforementioned Cottenham race in late December and then knocked up three straight wins. He trounced two rivals in a restricted race at Bangor, scored at Chaddesley and then won a conditions race at Hutton Rudby – runner-up Mr Pepperpot had won at Alnwick a week earlier.
The form of the Chaddesley race is worth noting, for third-placed Risky Gold had won at Cocklebarrow on his previous start, while Miss Seagreen went into the race after finishing second to the smart Chameron at Larkhill. Chameron subsequently won Larkhill's Coronation Cup while Miss Seagreen went on from Chaddesley to win a 17-runner intermediate race at Didmarton.
Constable says: "The horse seems to take a chance at the first fence, but if he gets over it we think we've got a chance, and Huw Edwards rides him really well. He sits really tight and in my opinion is a star in the making.
"Our plan before the season ended was to run in the members' race at Sandon and then go to Cheltenham [for the intermediate hunters' chase] where we would have beaten Dubai Quest."
That's fighting talk, for Dubai Quest, who featured in last week's Moments of the Season, also won three races during the season. A race involving him and Mr Snuffles would be one to savour when point-to-pointing and hunter chasing resumes.
Check out 'Moments of the season' each and every Wednesday.