It's the 25% club
Moderate mid week cards aren't always the stuff of legend, although they're more likely to appear in Question of Sport's "What happened next?" But amidst the 12 races across Fakenham and Taunton's first fixture of the new term, our boys in Wiltshire have excelled themselves, with no less than 4 winners.
Fakenham wouldn't rank among Alan King's favourite courses, but he has an excellent 20% strike rate there, and in 5 year old Grandeur d'Ame, another maiden hurdler no longer after a facile victory in the opener. After some scratchy jumping over the first two, Gavin Sheehan got his mount jumping and they never looked back. Reading between the lines however, it may not have been the world's most competitive race. Owner Andrew Brooks has had many good horses like Rouge Vif, Itchy Feet and Simply The Betts (Festival Plate March 2020). Fingers crossed that Grandeur d'Ame will grow into something special.
A welcome winner for Seamus Mullins indicates that the popular Willsford trainer may finally be turning a corner after a 3 month stint without a winner, and just 19 runners since July. Six year old chaser Tommie Beau gave early prominence to the notion a winner was on the cards, staying handy and taking it up 3 out in the 3 mile Greene King IPA Novices Handicap, and staying on to a 4 a/2l win for Seamus' tenth winner of the season.
Meantime, a little further down the A303, the cheers have barely subsided from one Milton Harris winner before another comes along. It's a truism that when a yard is in form, even the moderate horses catch a winning thread. Mi Laddo looks one such after finding extra under a forceful ride from Paddy Brennan in the 2m Thatchers Cider Handicap Hurdle. Whilst he's been knocking on the door for a few races, this is a horse that has found it difficult to win consistently, as 2 from 19 hurdle races will testify.
Concluding bumper winner Fire Lake may have more going for her after breaking her duck in the Taunton Business Club Mares Bumper. A neck second in a Ludlow bumper 3 weeks ago, she showed good speed under Harry Reed to notch Harris' 21st winner of the season, and his third in the last week.
Meantime, more credence was given to the quality of British Point-to-Point graduates at the weekend by Kim Bailey's smart novice chaser Does He Know, sold out of Cherry Coward's yard over the summer after winning a Charm Park maiden, and Third Time Lucky, a close runner up in a Thorpe Lodge open maiden in the autumn of 2019, before joining Dan Skelton's growing stable, who won the squareintheair.com Novices Chase.
Evidence, were it needed, that the nursery of the sport is producing plenty to interest the professionals. Roll on the Portman fixture that launches the Wessex season on November 7th. Get to see stars of the future first hand yourself.