Point-to-point rider James Ward makes his debut under Rules today hoping to ride a first winner.
A London-based financial advisor whose family home is in Berkshire, Ward heads to Cartmel to ride the Jamie Snowden-trained topweight Our Three Sons in the Heineken Amateur Riders' Handicap Hurdle (5.10). Rivals include Iolani, one of two runners for local trainer Dianne Sayer, and the mount of Britain's six-time Skinner's women's champion rider Gina Andrews.
Ward, 25, had two point-to-point rides in 2011, but after an unseat and a fall took a sabbatical from race riding. He reflects: "Two rides and no completions wasn't a great experience, and I was busy working as an assistant to Jamie, which I did for six years before leaving to take a job in London."
While at Snowden's he met and started dating former point-to-point rider Page Fuller who is now a successful conditional jockey. With her support he returned to the point-to-point changing tent in December to ride Moscow Blaze for Fuller's mother, Charlotte, at Cottenham, but suffered another decking when the horse fell.
He says: "That wasn't the best return going forward, but then I had a bit more luck and a few clear rounds. I've gained a bit more experience and had a lot of fun, and hope to have more rides next season.
"Today's ride under Rules has been a long time coming. I've been to Cartmel once before and it will be nice to ride Our Three Sons, who we bought as a store, and is owned by my parents, Andrew and Janet. Page has won four races on him."
Unfortunately, Page cannot join her boyfriend at the Cumbrian track because she has been booked by Andrew Balding to ride Oloroso in the women riders' handicap (5.50) at Chester.
Folie bids for quick hat-trick
Midnight Folie, who won five point-to-points by wide margins during the season just ended, is also in action at Cartmel today.
The nine-year-old mare hit full stride for Pembrokeshire trainer Amber Mathias when racking up her sequence of victories, and she has continued in winning form since joining Tim Vaughan.
Ben Jones, who rode her on the pointing circuit, was in the saddle for two handicap chase victories, and is back on board today when she runs in a hurdle race (2.20).