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Oakley at Brafield-on-the-Green
Sunday 25th March 2018
by Russell Smith

DAVID Maxwell's enterprising move to hire a helicopter paid off with a winner on Big Bang De Loire at the Oakley Hunt meeting at Brafield-on-the-Green before he flew to Ascot where he enjoyed further success aboard Marinero.

The owner-rider's memorable day began by taking to the skies from his Charlbury home in Oxfordshire to land at the Northamptonshire course, and take the first division of the Landscope Land & Property Five-Year-Olds And Over Open Maiden on Big Bang De Loire.

Making all the running on the seven-year-old, from Kim Smyly's Broadway stables, he forged clear to record a five-lengths verdict over Spring Cover.

Maxwell had bought the son of Califet from France three years ago only for him to suffer a tendon injury when finishing second at Hackwood Park in March 2016.

Following a spell on the sidelines, Big Bang De Loire ran in two handicap chases at Plumpton and Southwell before Christmas.

Maxwell, who works as a property investor in London, said: "On his form in France he had a rating of about 125, but he is a big slow boat. I love going pointing and I have two point-to-pointers and both of them are here today, and then I have a runner at Ascot. It is not so far from home and I have managed to get the family out, so I have just got the helicopter hired to ride all three."

Maxwell's second mount, Minerfortyniner, finished fourth behind Thetalkinghorse, from Gerald Bailey's Holdenby yard, who upset odds-on favourite Noble Ben by six lengths in the Brian Currie Milton Keynes Men's Open.

After plotting a wide course on the ten-year-old, Tom McClorey explained: "I went where there wasn't a print on the ground. Where the second horse went on the inside I could see him throwing a hell of a lot of mud back."

Thetalkinghorse was recording his 12th win and owner Margaret Moody, who lives near Northallerton in Yorkshire, added: "He has been a real star for us. Hopefully we will run him in hunter chases later in the season."

Bailey made it a double when Gunmoney completed his comeback after missing a season with a tendon injury by taking the Bells Motor Group Confined Race.

The 13-year-old made all the running under John Russell, and despite tiring in the home straight had enough in hand to hold off Squirrel Esquire by half a length.

Gunmoney was recording his 18th win and owner and chief steward Richard Russell, from Farthingstone in Northamptonshire, said: "I have had four horses that won 17 - Avostar, Persian Hero, Desert Fox and Gunmoney, and now he has gone on to 18. He is 13, but what a wonderful horse to own."

Popaway, another 13-year-old, also posted her 18th win when repeating her victory of 12 months ago in the Fisher German Ladies' Open to complete a double for Pauline Harkin's Edgcote stables, near Banbury, successful earlier with Velvet Steel.

Immy Robinson, who survived a blunder at the second-last on Popaway, before running out a two-and-a-half-length winner from Storm Lantern, said: "She got in a bit tight, but picked up very quickly. She is such a tiger and loves the game."

Harkin revealed that Popaway had overcome a training scare in the week. "She had a foot abscess and we had to poultice it and poultice it. I couldn't believe it when she was hopping lame, but she loves it here."

Velvet Steel had initiated the trainer's double when taking the second division of the Landscope Land & Property Five-Year-Olds And Over Open Maiden by a length from Buster West under Page Fuller.

Harkin was especially pleased as the eight-year-old mare, whom she bought from Ireland for the Over The Page Partnership, which consists of John and Jen Daffurn and Nicki and Dave Russell, had experienced numerous problems.

"The owners have been really good to stick with me," she said. "Two years ago she had a bit of an accident on her very first run at the Atherstone, and it took time to get over that mentally and physically."

Jockey Billy Aprahamian believes Bayley's Dream hasn't finishing winning yet after the nine-year-old completed a hat-trick of victories in the Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members Conditions Race for Novice Riders.

A great leap at the last clinched a two-length triumph over Flicka's Witness, and Aprahamian said. "He is a dream for a rider like me. I think there is plenty left in the season with him."

Bayley's Dream is owned and trained at Blakesley, near Towcester, by Aprahamian's father, John, who missed seeing the win as he was at a 70th birthday celebration.

Tommie O'Brien was so impressed with Bene Regina having finished second to her on Hattie Hopkinson at Brocklesby Park that when he saw the mount may be available in the Michael Jones Jewellers Restricted Race he was quickly on the phone.

His initiative was rewarded as the six-year-old, trained by Jane Kent at Brigg in Lincolnshire, battled to a three-quarters-of-a-length triumph over Inmyday.

O'Brien, who was beating his previous best of eight winners in a season, said: "We like our filly and so I knew this must be a nice filly to pass her. Tom Strawson had more rides at Dalton Park, so I knew he was going there and I was straight on the phone."

Kent added: "Hopefully she is an improving mare. We are still learning how good she is."
Hellorboston finished strongly to take the Hallam Land Management George Weaving Memorial Oakley Hunt Members', Subscribers' & Farmers' Race for committee chairman Graham Tawell, who is based at Lidlington in Bedfordshire.

Formerly trained by Donald McCain, the ten-year-old looked held by Viking Ridge at the last fence, but Jamie Lyttle conjured a great run out of his mount to claim the spoils by half a length, with stablemate and odds-on favourite Midnight Monkey three lengths back in third.

Tawell revealed that his partner, Jackie Hunt, had cracked her coccyx in a fall from Hellorboston in the build-up to the race.

"Midnight Monkey was having a hoolie and Boston just dropped her, but he is lovely horse whereas Monkey is the opposite," he said.

The meeting was preceded by two pony races, with Harry Davies, 13, sporting the famous Al Shaqab Racing silks to a runaway victory on Little Anne in the Seeds of Change-sponsored 138cm & Under contest.

The youngster's mother, Angela Shea, is assistant to Newmarket trainer Hugo Palmer, and she explained: "The colours are Sheikh Joaan's and he was thrilled that a small person was going to wear them."

Saffron Walden's Angus Villiers, 16, who is set for an apprenticeship with Newmarket trainer Robert Cowell, took the Acorn Centre 148cm & Under Pony Race on Abrickinthewall.

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