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Saturday 21st March 2015
by Andrew Norman

The renaissance of veteran Working Title continued as the Drinkwater family's thirteen-year-old made it four wins from his last five starts in the VWH Mixed Open at Siddington on Saturday.

The son of Oscar was met with perfect jumping ground at the Gloucestershire venue, which was in excellent condition, and dictated the pace to come home ten lengths clear of Presentandcorrect.

Trainer Sam Drinkwater, whose father Paul owns and younger brother Joe rides the gelding, said: "He's such an easy horse to train and keep fresh as he just loves life. He's better on quicker ground and Joe clearly knows how to ride him as I could never win on him!"

On the subject of a novice title challenge for his brother, Drinkwater opined: "Joe will do his best but I'm trying to get him more ammunition. [Working Title] will go wherever we can find a suitable race on better ground."

Pointing debutant Santo Thomas, the outsider of four, produced a battling performance to prevail in the Hunt Members race. The nine-year-old, denying in-form rival Full Throttle by a neck, was providing owner/trainer Izzy Brown with her first ever winner.

A dual winner over hurdles for Venetia Williams, the grey was a gift horse to Brown, who works as Racing Secretary for Neil King. The dream for Brown was originally to also ride the horse but left that duty to Charlie Dando, of whom she was of high praise.

Brown said: "I'm thrilled as he's had problems with his legs and we didn't expect anything coming here today. The plan was to sit and hold him up and see what happened as he was unproven over three miles. He may go to Lockinge next."

Uppertown Hawk made all in the Confined Conditions races to score for the first time since rattling off a hat-trick between the flags in Ireland in 2012.

A switch to front-running tactics brought out a superb round of jumping from the eight-year-old, who kick-started a weekend double for trainer Kirsty Adcock, owner Clive Bennett and rider Jeremy Mahot.

Ledbury-based Adcock, who took over the training of Bennett's horses a year ago, explained: "He's a bit of a thinker but he's always been a great jumper. He likes the quick ground and front-running seems to have made all the difference."

Bennett, regaining the trophy after winning the race with Greensleeves in 2009, added: "We tried front-running at Larkhill to feel our way and it worked. Garnons was a disaster as it was heavy ground and he never got to the front but today he had his ground and he kept finding more which was super."

Front-running tactics also enabled That Beats Banaher, runner-up to On The Fringe in the Champion Hunters Chase at Punchestown in 2012, to get his head in front for the first time since 2010.

The eleven-year-old, appreciating good ground, was guided by London-based barrister Barnaby Shaw; the rider collecting the prize in the Pegasus Club Members race for the second successive year.

Trainer Zoe Hammond, who also saddled Bravery Scotch to land the contest twelve months ago for Shaw and his wife Antonia, said: "Barnaby has been bitten by the pointing bug and this race has been a long-term target. He works very hard on his fitness by cycling round Hyde Park and has only ridden out twice since the Heythrop. The hunt race at Sandon on Easter Saturday will be next."

Chris and Fran Marriott's progressive mare Dabinett Moon (Claire Hart) confirmed her liking for good ground by returning to form with a comfortable victory in the Restricted.

The seven-year-old Midnight Legend mare is the latest success story of 'The Apples' dynasty, with the Chipping Norton couple breeding racehorses for decades out of grand dam Windfall VI.

Trainer Fran said: "It was sticky at Cocklebarrow but she loved this better ground. The ground today is perfect and there's a lovely spring underneath the surface."

Husband Chris added: "Her jumping was brilliant and Claire gave her a very sensible ride before kicking on at the right time. We'd never risk her on firm ground as she's had a knee issues but she's the sweetest little animal."

Craig Pilgrim's Peeping Thom (Page Fuller) backed up an encouraging racecourse debut at Larkhill by taking the closing Open Maiden.

The six-year-old son of Tamure, bred by John de Lisle Wells, can progress in this sphere.

Longcot-based owner/trainer Pilgrim said: "That was very pleasing for just his second time on a racecourse. Although the dam never ran, she is related winners with staying pedigree. It's late enough in the season now and I wouldn't run him on firm ground. Our meeting at Lockinge on Easter Monday may come a bit soon."

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