Event reports

REPORT - NORTH COTSWOLD - Easter Monday 1st April

  • Posted: Tuesday, 2nd April 2024
  • Author: Andrew King
  • Photo: Graham Fisher

Despite near-quagmire conditions Paxford managed to stage a six-race card that went without hitch and was witnessed by a bumper crowd seemingly undeterred by having to squelch their way through mud which was definitely the order of the afternoon.

Out on the course, title chasing Izzy Marshall and Toby McCain-Mitchell took the riding honours courtesy of a double apiece and on the training front former jockey Luca Morgan sent out his first pointing winner as a trainer.

Marshall is riding in confident mode at present and took her seasonal tally to 13 winners - two valuable successes ahead of Gina Andrews with under a couple of months of the pointing term remaining.

Soldier Unknown, making his British debut for trainer Alan Hill, proved to be the first of Marshall's victories as she came from last to first in the 5yo and over Maiden to snatch the spoils at the expense of Bellamys Boy and Spaghetti Pete by a neck and a short head.

Many could have been forgiven for thinking Marshall had overdone the waiting tactics aboard the five-year-old as she still had ground to make up off the home bend but they need not have worried as the pair won a shade cosily in the end.

Hill's son and assistant Joe said: "I am certain he will improve for some better ground if we ever get it with all the rain we have endured and he will keep going now until the end of the season in the hope it dries up a bit

"He was bought privately by Chris Barber on our behalf out of Colin Bowe's yard in Ireland and a big shout must go out to Chris for spotting the horse, who looks progressive and if anybody is interested he is for sale!"

Another Irish import Caldwell Diamond proved the second leg of the Hill/Marshall two-timer as he found plenty when asked to go about his business and eventually stretched 15-lengths clear of Joly Maker where it mattered.

A delighted Hill jnr commented: "He was bought out of Gordon Elliott's yard but had never jumped a fence in Ireland, however, the moment we schooled him over fences he seemed a natural. He did nothing wrong in the race and should win again."

With one eye on the lady jockey's title race, Hill said of his fiancé Marshall's chances of lowering the colours of perennial champion Andrews: "It could be interesting but Gina has a lot of firepower at her disposal, however, Izzy will give it a go as she is riding at the top of her form at present."

After a couple of near misses earlier on the card, McCain-Mitchell finally found the winner's circle by landing the two concluding races on the card with Burtown and Perfect Pirate in the Restricted and Veteran Horse Conditions race respectively.

Burtown just held off Prohus Yank in a driving finish by a short head but the pair may have had good fortune on their side as Thatshalfthebattle may well have prevailed but for getting rid of Will Badlan when challenging at the final fence.

But none of that bothered winning trainer Max Comley's representative Elen Wylie. She said: "Burtown's two wins have been on very testing ground so he definitely had things in his favour on this occasion."

It was far more straight-forward for McCain-Mitchell aboard Perfect Pirate as the pair came clear of Muckamore much to the joy of Luca Morgan as he was notching his first pointing victory as a trainer after a shock retirement from riding under Rules late last year.

Morgan said: "This horse has been lucky to us as he provided my girlfriend Page Topley with her first success riding and now he has just given me my debut winner as a trainer."

According to winning trainer Francesca Poste's husband Charlie, In Our Dreams only wins when the mud is flying and the eight-year-old made no mistake in the Intermediate as he outpointed our Brother John under Zak Baker.