Gina Andrews broke a 24-year-old point-to-point record yesterday – and was given a drowning reception.
The five-time Skinner's ladies' champion – and soon to take the title for a sixth time – rode her 41st winner of the season on King Of The Clothe (pictured above) in the final race of the day at Edgcote. The victory meant she had achieved the highest score by a woman rider in a point-to-point season, lowering the record set by Polly Curling in 1995. After weighing in Andrews emerged from the changing tent for the post-race presentation and was met with a wall of water, hurled from buckets by friends and riding colleagues.
Andrews rode four winners at the weekend, scoring a double at Bitterley on Saturday before heading to Edgcote where she equalled Curling's score on the Hannah Mahon-trained An Scairp in the restricted race. A former leading point-to-point rider, Mahon said of Andrews: "She's the best – the number of winners she rides proves it. She got this horse to settle beautifully and into a nice rhythm. You'd put her up on anything."
Gina Andrews (rght) drives for the line on An Scairp as The Jaffna Queen (Alice Stevens) challenges
The new record was set in the intermediate race on King Of The Clothe, who is trained by Andrews's husband, Tom Ellis, at their Warwickshire home. Andrews said: "I'm so pleased to have set the record on a horse from our yard. Now the dream is for Tom to win the [Foran Equine-sponsored] trainers' championship [for yards with eight or more horses]."
Ellis, who has now trained 30 winners this season, eight more than Alan Hill and ten more than reigning Foran Equine champion Philip Rowley, said: "I'd love to get to 40 winners, but it depends on the ground and what we run in hunters' chases or keep for point-to-points. At the moment I'm just overwhelmed by what Gina has done today. It's a massive relief – you know what this job is like and how things can go wrong. You can get close to a race and something happens.
"It's often said by trainers that it's a team effort, but it has to be when you have a yard full of horses. Jack [Andrews, Gina's younger brother] plays a massive part – he schools them, breaks them in, and rides all the difficult ones. He is also the brains on form, and advises us where to run the horses."
Gina's win on King Of The Clothe was also her 298th in all types of Jump races, comprising 239 in UK points, four* in Irish points, 56* in British races run under Rules and one* in Irish races under Turf Club Rules. She has also ridden seven* winners on the Flat (five on turf, two on all-weather).
With a lead of 17 over Fuller's men's title-race leader Alex Edwards, she has a strong chance of becoming only the second woman to ride more winners in a season than the top male rider – an achievement which Curling managed three times – although she gives herself little or no chance of reaching Will Biddick's record of 68 winners in a season, set in 2014/15.
Ellis said: "You can never say never, and we still have 20 horses in to run, but 68 looks a long way off."
*Statistics taken from racingpost.com and p2p.ie
Gina Andrews takes a soaking after riding her 41st, record-setting winner