We are continuing to look back at the 2019/20 point-to-point season and highlight some 'Moments of the season'. This latest video focuses on Six A Side.
Will Milburn sat tight when Six A Side took a liberty with the penultimate fence at Charm Park in March, but then he is not short of experience when it comes to requiring glue.
He says of 12-year-old Six A Side: "He can be a bit quirky at times, and if he wants to chuck his head up and go, he'll go. I've had some hairy moments going down the gallops."
The ability to 'sit one' is a skill required by work riders around the world, and it's a useful attribute in a race, too, as Milburn proved in the Jockey Club & Retraining of Racehorses Veteran Conditions race at the Derwent Hunt's fixture. Heading to the second-last fence Six A Side was in full control, but a blunder there had Milburn briefly fighting gravity, and allowed Young Hurricane to loom alongside and head him rounding the final bend.
Six A Side rallied, led again at the final jump and then stayed on resolutely to collect his thirteenth win from 30 starts in British point-to-points. Add in 11 places, and you have a highly consistent performer, who has also finished first and third in two hunters' chase starts.
Milburn, who also trains Six A Side, says of the Charm Park error: "He'd been left in front far earlier than I wanted when another horse fell, and when he's in front for too long he tends to lose concentration. Ideally I would have got there a lot later.
"He's a wonderfully consistent horse, and while he wouldn't be good enough to beat the best hunter chasers his owners just love going point-to-pointing. They are happy doing that and seeing their horse do well." The owners are Colin Milburn – the trainer's uncle – family friend Pete Kench and Carol Milburn who is Will's mum.
Will says: "The veterans' race suited him, and there are a lot of horses in his category, so I think it's a good innovation. The final [of the veterans' series of races, worth £1,000 and set to be held at Garthorpe in May until the season ended prematurely] was something we talked about and would have been on the cards."
Six A Side ran six times in Irish point-to-points as a five-year-old, although it was an inauspicious start with two falls and two pulled-ups in his first four runs. However, a sixth place to The Last Samuri [who would go on to finish runner-up in the 2016 Grand National] caught Milburn's eye after the horse joined his yard. His partner, Emma Todd, found Six A Side with the help of bloodstock agent Mark Gichero.
Six A Side is now enjoying a summer at grass, turned out at Milburn's parents' home near Malton with a new stablemate, eight-year-old Quest For Life. Formerly trained by Mark Walford, Quest For Life has a BHA rating of 123 under Rules and should be a useful addition to pointing in Yorkshire next season. Whether Six A Side will allow him to be a lead horse on the gallops will be entirely at his discretion.
Check out 'Moments of the season' each and every Wednesday.