Emma Lavelle's 2 from 5 sets a scorching pace
Emma Lavelle has enjoyed a good July by the standards of a yard that generally eschews the mid summer period. Eight runners across both codes of the sport have generated 3 winners, and loss by a head in the summer's most valuable handicap hurdle.
Hang In There, a previous graded hurdle winner at Cheltenham, began the sequence at Stratford on July 11, promoting a quick turn-round to enter him in the Betway Summer Handicap Hurdle at Market Rasen last weekend, where he was all over the winner in the straight, before going down by a head to David O'Meara's Stonific in a terrific race.
Yesterday she improved her Jumps strike rate for the month to 40% when Bigbadmattie won a maiden hurdle at Worcester. But sadly, the quality of the Jumps fixtures at this time of year and the strictures brought about by the Covid crisis mean these feats are little reported. At a majority of summer Jumps fixtures nowadays, the press representation extends only to the Press Association race reader and the presenter from Racing TV or Sky Sports. Not even the Racing Post turns out nowadays.
Two south Wiltshire trainers were also (not) in the news this week. Also at Worcester, Simon Earle teamed up with Harriet Tucker to win a modest handicap hurdle for amateur riders with gelding Witch From Rome. Simon has a select band of horses at his base in Sutton Veny, near Warminster, a village that also houses Milton Harris. Simon's methods define him as a trainer not following the crowd; none of his horses have run in shoes since 2005, and his injury list indicates this is a most positive move.
An altogether larger enterprise is that of Seamus Mullins, whose 7 year old Romanor followed up a victory at the same Stratford fixture as Hang In There in the handicap chase at Uttoxeter this afternoon. A seventh career win has now earned him over £50,000, which, at this level, is no mean achievement. And there'll be few more smug jockeys than Daniel Samson with a 100% record this season from Romanor's two victories.
A man more familiar to fans of the Point-to-Point circuit is owner-trainer David Brace, who has enjoyed many winners between the flags. Son Connor, who was broken in riding in Point-to-Point races, is now a conditional at Fergal O'Brien's, a coveted position given the success of the Ravenswell yard. David and Connor teamed up at Uttoxeter today to win a handicap hurdle with Watching Brief, whilst boss O'Brien continued his romp at the front of the Trainers' Championship with a double, bringing his season's earnings in excess of £233,000. Whilst that might be a haul from a good weekend for one or two of our top trainers, it represents a great start to the season for a trainer who deserves some higher quality horses.
Meantime, back at Worcester, Thomasina Eyston enjoyed a first winner under Rules in the concluding amateur riders' handicap hurdle for Ben Lund. With a handful of Point-to-Point winners under her belt already, she looks like another Pointing graduate climbing the greasy pole in an increasingly crowded ladies changing room nowadays.