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North Hereford
Whitwick Manor
Saturday 27th February 2010
by Stella Havard


A strong drying wind came to the 11th hour rescue of the North Herefordshire Hunt point to point at Whitwick Manor, with the official going ‘good, good to soft in places’.

The course certainly rode better than anticipated, and the spring-like afternoon was only marred by one prolonged cold shower.

Kimbolton-based trainer Sarah-Jayne Davies was astonished and delighted when her unfancied charge, Miss Lightning galloped clear in the Member’s Race under a confident ride from Jeremy Mahot. “Her jumping hasn’t been the best- we’ve had to go back to basics with poles as she hurdled everything. Much of the credit must go to Jeremy as he’s schooled her endlessly.” Miss Lightening was purchased by Sarah-Jaynes’s mother Sue, who owns her in a syndicate with friends.

Racing was delayed while the air ambulance transported Richard Morse to Hereford Hospital after his final-fence fall, but he was later discharged.

Strong Weld made a valiant attempt to make all in the Confined event, but Rhys Jenkins had to accept runner-up position when Maranach powered past with David Mansell. It was a welcome winner indeed for Julie Houldey, who commented, "Because last season I could have trained a donkey to win, and this year I haven't had a winner yet, people are whispering that we have a virus or something. But this isn't true, the horses have been running out of their skins, but just not getting their head in front. Glad to get this one on the board though!”

The Houldey/Mansell partnership did not have to wait long to get back into their old ways, notching up a back-to-back double when the favourite, Just Talking galloped five lengths clear in the Men's Open. Clearly normal business has been resumed.

Hannah Lewis gave Desert Tommy an enterprising ride in the Ladies Race, kicking on five fences from home, and though the victory was made easier when the challenging Balinova made a mistake and decanted Claire Allen soon after, Hannah always felt that she had the race won. Owner/ trainer, Simon W. Hart was sporting a brace on his left hand to protect a fracture sustained after a recent stumble on the gallops. Ironically, his niece, Claire Hart, the usual pilot, also suffered fractured metacarpals in a fall at Cottenham a few days later. “ I had to get straight back into the saddle after my operation," said Simon, "but we can't even push a wheelbarrow between us!"

Bromyard trainer, Paul Davies began his 2010 campaign with flourish, sending out the seven year old Drom to win the Restricted gamely in the hands of Tom Weston. Drom is owned by a syndicate that includes local vet Graham Potts. David Doolittle, one of the key members of the partnership recalled that he had trained his first winner at Whitwick Manor 18 years previously.

The largest field of the day was the 15 –runner Mares Only Maiden, and raider Godfrey Maundrell was ‘chuffed to bits’ with Haveyoubeen after her game performance. Confirming that this was his 40th season riding between the flags, Godfrey quipped "when I Grow Up, I want to be a jockey!” An occasional visitor to the Welsh Border area, Godfrey is no stranger to the winners enclosures there, and his Corinthian victories are always well-applauded.

Johnny Bryan added to his happy memories of Whitwick Manor when his five year old debutante, Saint Luke cruised home by 25 lengths in the Confined Maiden in the talented hands of Michael Byrne. Johnny is well remembered for his partnerships with such greats as Sparkford, Little Fleur and Jim Lad to name but a few from the mighty Bryan glory-days, when Johnny’s father Bill was legendary for producing winners in both the point-to-pointing and showing worlds. Johnny, who was national champion rider between the flags in 1979, commented “I haven’t been to Whitwick for a while, but it’s worth coming back with a good ‘un! This was one of the last foals that dad bought before he died, so you can see he’s a looker.”

Saint Luke’s only other stable mate at Cradley is the other last foal that Bill Bryan purchased, who will be making her debut later in the season.

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