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North Warwickshire
Saturday 11th April 2015
by Andrew Norman

Ladies title contender Claire Hart rode her first treble at the North Warwickshire Point-to-Point at Mollington on Saturday.

Hart, successful with all three of her mounts on the afternoon, said: "What an awesome feeling, I never thought this would happen. I'm riding with a lot of confidence and I think Palypso De Creek has played a big part in that."

The hat-trick has put Hart, who trains, pre-trains and breaks horses in from her base in Adlestrop, in the mix for the National Ladies Title but the rider isn't getting carried away: "I would love to think I could give it a go but it remains just a dream."

The first leg of the treble came in the TBA Mares Club Members race as Dabinett Moon devoured the uphill finish. The seven-year-old has now won three of her last four starts for Chipping Norton-based couple Chris and Fran Marriott.

The going, described as good, good to soft in places, was just acceptable for the winner, who led four out before romping home by eight lengths.

Chris, who has bred racehorses for decades out of the winner's grand dam Windfall VI, said: "She needs genuine good ground and that was proven today as her two worse jumps came at the same fence on the hill, where it's very soft. She handled the track well though and I'd like to bring her back here for the Warwickshire meeting (May 4th)."

Fran, who has nothing to work the Midnight Legend mare with at home except a hunter, added: "She's done nothing wrong. The two of us ride out and canter her and keeping things simple seems to work! Ultimately, we'd like to run in the Subaru Restricted Final at Stratford (May 29th)."

Hart drove Alskamatic to a hard fought victory over old adversary Sharp Suit in a thrilling Ladies Open race. The nine-year-old, ninth at the Cheltenham Festival last month, battled tenaciously close home to score by a neck after being briefly headed on the run-in.

The pair had finished first and second in last year's Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate Final at Cheltenham, with Sharp Suit prevailing by a neck and Alskamatic's owner/trainer Richard Bandey was delighted to get his revenge: "He's a stronger horse this year and ran really well in the Foxhunters. The race wasn't run to suit today by being in front and he needs a big field to be seen to his best. He's a bit idle unless he's in a fight. He'll probably run in another Point now before going to Fontwell (May 14th)."

Leith Hill Lad completed the treble for Hart with a smooth six-length success in the Open Maiden. The Kayf Tara gelding, who had shown promise on his two previous starts, was given a confident ride, anchored at the rear before gradually picking off his rivals.

The winner, owned and bred by Neil and Jane Maltby, was foaled on the day AP McCoy won the Grand National on Don't Push It in 2010. "We were at Aintree five years ago when heard the news and so gave him the nickname is AP. It's very fitting he has won his Maiden on Grand National day on AP's last ride in the race," said Neil.

Hart, who also trains Leith Hill Lad, added: "I was keen to give him as much confidence as possible today and I hope he'll be a nice one. The plan is to run him in the DBS Point-to-Point Bumper at Aintree (May 15th)."

Delighted rider Sarah Bowen celebrated her first ever Point-to-Point winner as Definitely Rosie powered to a twenty-length triumph in the Subaru Restricted race.

Owned and trained by the rider's mother Sue, the eight-year-old mare is stationed in Hanbury and was acquired from Ascot Sales last June for just £800 out of the Cynthia Woods yard.

The rider had enjoyed five wins in Arab Racing between 2010 and 2012 with the consistent Yankey, but had yet to get off the mark between the flags. Bowen, 22, who works as head girl for Angela Rucker, said: "I wasn't expecting that! I'm over the moon and it hasn't sunk in! She seems to stay very well and I might even have a look at the 3m 2f Ladies at Chaddesley next Saturday as she takes her racing well."

Man Of Steel (Joe Hill) continued his progression by running out a comfortable winner of the Club Members race.

Main market rival Kristian Gray ensured it was a proper test (joint-fastest time of the day with Ladies Open) by jumping boldly in front but was headed after three out before the winner was driven to a three-length success.

Running in the colours of Fred Roughton, who owns the gelding in partnership with Toby Hunt, the Craigsteel gelding wasn't always fluent early but his fencing improved throughout and has the scope to improve further.

"He's only six and if he hadn't been hurdling, everyone would be raving about him." said trainer Alan Hill, "We possibly ran him back a bit quick today so we'll give him a month until his final run of the season."

Penmore Mill, owned by clerk of the course Ken Hutsby, walked over in the Mens Open race. Trained by the owner's son Fred in Wellesbourne, the ten-year-old was intended to have a prep run en-route to the Cheltenham Hunter Chase evening on April 29th. "That's messed up our plans a bit," said the trainer, "a run today would have put him spot on for Cheltenham, where he'll run in the two-miler as he didn't stay over further there last year."

Hutsby, who saddled Rash Move to land the aforementioned Cheltenham contest three years ago, continued: "We intended to send Penmore Mill to Aintree on Thursday but he suffered a small cut and we just couldn't get him there 100%. There's always next year and, as it turned out, it probably wasn't a bad race to miss as we wouldn't have beaten the winner."

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