Wiltshire keeps its end up with a Boxing Day haul
Just 3 fixtures survived the wet pre-Christmas weather; enough however to allow 4 Wiltshire trainers to make their mark on what is normally a busy and fruitful time for racing yards.
Kempton is rarely a victim of wet weather with its free-draining soil, but if truth be told, Wiltshire trainers have struggled to win traction against the might of Ditcheat and Seven Barrows, which dominate the track, and especially the Christmas meeting. And whilst Frodon's pillar to post victory in the King George secured a record twelfth victory in the race for Shepton Mallet's Paul Nicholls, the Wiltshire flag flew strongly in the supporting events, notably the televised Novices Handicap Chase, when Irish Point-to-Point graduate Killer Clown won with a little in hand for Emma Lavelle's Ogbourne Maizey stable. It's been a fruitful end to the month for Lavelle and partner Barry Fenton, following Paisley Park's Long Walk scalp at Ascot last weekend.
Nearer to home, two trainers at opposite ends of the county won races at Wincanton. Neil King (pictured below) got back to winning ways in the feature Lord Stalbridge Memorial Chase with Nearly Perfect, partnered by Jack Andrews. Jack is better known to Pointing fans for his exploits between the flags, but this was his first winner under Rules this term.
Based in the south of the county near Sutton Veny, Warminster, Milton Harris is rebuilding a career as a dual purpose trainer after having been declared bankrupt and losing his training licence. As a Point-to-Point graduate, winning his first race as a trainer at Paxford nearly 20 years ago, hes' no stranger to success. Jacamar, winner of the Pertemps qualifier at Wincanton this Boxing Day, will allow him to achieve a rating for this winner to get into the Final on the third day of the Festival, and was his seventh winner of this term.
In the west of the county, Neil Mulholland's four Wincanton runners occupied first, second, third and unplaced berths in their respective races, illustrating the general well-being of the yard. However, latterly at least, December has rarely been a formative month for the Conkwell Grange team. With 36 winners on the scoresheet already, there is plenty to be happy about even so.
Most valuable of today's races to fall to Wiltshire trainers was Wetherby's Rowland Meyrick Chase, a Grade III Handicap with a touch of faded grandeur. Good enough however for Alan King to target successfully with J P McManus-owned Canelo, under a forceful finish from Cotswold lad Tom Bellamy, now making a name as one of Alan's team of riders. His 3/4l victory over Charlie Longsdon's Snow Leopardess might well have been the finish of the day.