Andy Stewart, Owner of Pacha du Polder, dies
it's been a lean week for Jumps fans, even more so for the Wiltshire fanbase, not least since the lack of rain allowed Stradivarius an unchallenged win in the Doncaster Cup. It looks like the much vaunted contest with Alan King's Trueshaan will have to wait until Qipco Champions Day next month.
Meantime, Emma Lavelle has been promoting the well-being of her string with a handsome 3 3/4l victory for Jemima P in a novices handicap chase at Worcester this afternoon. Jemima P has been every trainer's dream horse since wind surgery last winter. Since then, her performance has improved no end with today's win being the fourth since May from just five runs. She's improved 27lbs since that first chase victory in March.
Emma's not a regular around the summer venues, but that hasn't prevented her from growing 9 winners and a very creditable 23% strike rate. It's great to see winners pouring regularly from Ogbourne Maizey once again, and with horses like Hang In There, a winner at Stratford earlier this month, she has plenty to look forward to as the season changes.
In other news today, Nicky Henderson has retired Altior at the age of 11. 21 victories from 26 runs, and career earnings of over £1.3m attest to his dominance but a string of seconds can't mask the fact that his halcyon era was during that extraordinary unbeaten run of 19 races between 2016-19 that included a Supreme Novices' Arkle and two Queen Mother Champion Chases alongside a Tingle Creek and no less than 3 Celebration Chases at Sandown.
As befits a stable of that size, expect to see horses like Shishkin take on that mantle and give the lie to the phrase, "There'll never be another like him".
Another loss to the sport today is Andy Stewart, erstwhile owner with Paul Nicholls, whose horses graced Grade I courses for many years, and topped our very own pinnacle - the Cheltenham Foxhunter - with Pacha du Polder, ridden by Harriet Tucker in March 2019. Andy's contribution to the top level of the sport is not to be underestimated and he was a most generous owner, standing in for sponsorship of the Supreme Novices in the absence of a sponsor in the mid 2000s for his preferred charity Spinal Research. People like him don't come along very often. He will be sorely missed and his death was plenty early enough at just 70.