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Curre & Llangibby at Howick
Sunday 18th February 2018
by Peter Burgon

The South Wales and Monmouthshire Point-To-Point season at Howick near Chepstow on Sunday got off to a sad start when in a match for the
opening Members' race, Steve Whistance's French-bred War Path, ridden by Hannah Lewis, and who had been made a long odds-on favourite, broke a leg after jumping the last fence when well clear of Caroline Marles's eleven-year-old home bred Always Archie ridden by Craig Dowson. A former winner under Rules for Tim Vaughan, Always Archie was returning to the racecourse for the first time in two years.

Nine runners faced the starter for the Confined race and two of these Colorado Doc and Bob The Butcher are owned and trained by David Brace OBE of the Dunraven Stud, Pyle near Bridgend. The heavy ground took its toll of several of the runners but the odds-on Colorado Doc, the seven-year-old son of Dr Massini, under Bradley Gibbs, jumped for fun in the testing conditions and came home a distance ahead of stable mate Bob The Butcher ridden by Mr Brace's 16-year-old grandson Connor Brace.

Closest finish of the day came in the Restricted race when the favourite Champione, ridden by "Comeback Kid" Nick Williams, of Ogmore by Sea
in South Wales, made most of the running to win by a neck from Double You Be partnered by Ed Bailey. Champione is owned by The Egerton, Chandler & Harris Partnership and trained by former leading rider Jonathan Tudor, of Merthyr Mawr, who said, "My sixteen-year-old son Jack does all the work I'm afraid to go near the horse." Six runners went to post for this race and it is interesting to note that the first three to finish - Way Wild West was third - were the only Irish-bred horses in the race.

Nick Williams's mount Snow Puma was made favourite to win the following 5,6 & 7yo Open Maiden race for which there were five starters but came down at the tenth fence. Byron Moorcroft, having his first ride of the season on the seven-year-old bay gelding Mason Dixon, gained a 15 lengths win
over the early leader Light Flicker the only other finisher. Mason Dixon was a first winner for Miss Georgia Kemeys, of Bridgend, and is trained in
Pontypridd by Kieran Price and qualified with the Glamorgan Hunt. Mr Price said, "We bought him in Ireland recently and he is easy enough to train."

Nine runners went to post for The Roger Lewis Memorial Mixed Open Race. Moral Hazard, a nine-year-old son of Milan, was given a cracking ride by Bradley Gibbs and jumping the last in front went on to win by four lengths from Pink Eyed Pedro ridden by Connor Brace with Repeat Business (Nick Williams), a further twelve lengths back in third spot. Owned by West Wales area secretary Beverley Thomas and Adrian Simpson, Moral Hazard, a 13-2 chance, was returning after a long lay off and is the only horse now trained by Beverley who has saddled many winners in her time. "He's a darling to train and I ride him myself but the win came as a complete surprise as he really hates the heavy ground." It was only fitting that the late Roger Lewis had a race named after him at Howick as it was here as a fourteen-year-old back in 1959 that he had his first win on April Pennant and that in 1980 he made his last winning ride a winning one over the Howick course on Boundtobe.

The Open Maiden race was won by Scotsman Mr Frank Michael's seven-year-old grey mare Bean Liath who, ridden by twenty-three year-old Irishman Shane Quinlan, won by fifteen lengths from the Bobby Thomas partnered Padre Tito with Master Hide (James Jeavons) a further ten lengths away in third spot. Bought in Ireland by Mr Michael for a friend who changed his mind and turned down the horse, Bean Liath is trained by Kirstin Mellor and is qualifed with the Curre & Llangibby. Quinlin, who has ridden eleven winners under Rules, was chalking up his third win between-the-flags.

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