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A truly bumper event: full report on the first Barbury International point-to-point

New List & Richard Harding (rt) winning division 2 of the bumper (Photo courtesy www.mjayphotography.co.uk & Media)

The day of the inaugural Barbury International race meeting – the first ever point-to-point in Britain to welcome Irish-based and professionally trained horses, and the first to include a “bumper” (National Hunt flat for horses fairly new to racing) – dawned crisp, cold and sunny (Saturday, 14 January 2017.)

Organisers were rewarded with a big crowd of supporters, an eight-race card and 92 runners from the entry of 166, of which six had travelled across the Irish Sea - including five from “Shark” Hanlon’s yard in Bagenalstown, County Carlow.

The highest-profile Irishman present was 20-time champion jockey Sir A P McCoy, who arrived early with sponsor Ronnie Bartlett and stayed all day, presenting the prizes for both divisions of the bumper - divided due to the number of entries.

It was in the second heat of the bumper, which was the day's final race, that Shark Hanlon was finally rewarded - after a second place and three horses that did not complete the course. His unraced New List duly delivered in the hands of the experienced jockey Richard Harding - one of two Irish jockeys to come over for this meeting.  This division of the bumper was sponsored by Wilson Dennison.

The four-year-old New List moved into the lead after a circuit and, though overtaken by Call Me Sid on the final bend, took advantage of his allowance to hold on and win by half a length, with the well-bred As I See It a further eight back in third.

After the race Hanlon said he had had a mixed day: "But we’ve been treated like royalty – and I’ve come here to get my horses sold, two have already been bought and hopefully the other three will be later!”

Sir Anthony McCoy enjoying the talk in the ringSir Anthony McCoy enjoying the talk in the ringJake Exelby interviewing winning trainer Shark Hanlon Jake Exelby interviewing winning trainer Shark Hanlon Shark – whose fearsome nickname dates back to his hurling days – has ten horses in training under rules and 25 four-year-olds for pointing. “They’re all for sale,” he smiled, citing New List as probably the best of them. “He jumps brilliantly at home.”

Winning jockey Richard Harding was full of praise for the meeting. “It’s a new experience for me,” he admitted. “But everything’s done right, like on a racecourse, from weighing out to starting. It’s more professional than Irish pointing!”

The first division of the bumper attracted ten starters and went to its sole Irish runner – the Martin Cullinane trained mare Lostin A Fog.  She was ridden by her brand new owner John Liddington: “That’s my second win. I won a bumper in Ireland on my first ride, as well as a couple of charity races.”

South Mimms-based Thomas Gallagher will now be training Lostin A Fog.

The Mixed Open, sponsored by Weatherbys Hamilton, attracted the biggest field of the day - sixteen - and it was certainly the most competitive contest, with less than five lengths covering the first eight home.

For most of the last circuit, the finish looked likely to be fought out between Sacre Toi, Now Ben and Out Now, but the latter two were swallowed up after the last by the fast-finishing pack and, though Sacre Toi did his best to hold on under a 12-pound penalty, he was caught close home by 33/1 shot Vincitore under trainer-rider Sarah Rippon.  

Sarah became the first rider to win an Open taking advantage of the five-pound allowance now given to novice riders in these races.  She trains from Henrietta Knight’s West Lockinge yard and is considering a Hunter Chase campaign for Vincitore.

BBRY INTL P2P 17 VINCITORE OWNER SARAH RIPPON edited 1BBRY INTL P2P 17 VINCITORE OWNER SARAH RIPPON edited 1  Cheltenham Mati's owner Tim Underwood & jockey Zac Baker (Photo courtesy www.mjayphotography.co.uk & Media)Cheltenham Mati's owner Tim Underwood & jockey Zac Baker (Photo courtesy www.mjayphotography.co.uk & Media)  Richard Harding receives Leading Rider award from Andy Clifton Newbury Racecourse's Head of CommunicationsRichard Harding receives Leading Rider award from Andy Clifton Newbury Racecourse's Head of Communications

Another successful trainer-rider was Dymock-based Sam Jukes in the Masterson Family Trophy race for ten-year-olds plus, over three miles six furlongs with a field of fifteen. He took the spoils with the odds-on Iberico.

Iberico had seemed to have a flat spot during the race: “I always felt like he was in top gear.  I knew he’d make up ground accelerating down the hill, so I thought I’d save something – but I left it a bit late though!” It was a second winner from just three runners for Sam’s fledgling training career.

Nine went to post for the Highflyer Bloodstock Novice Riders race, which was an eventful contest. Fancied Shan’t Agree departed early, soon followed by the prominent Subtitle. Popular grey Argentato, who had led all the way ducked out at the last fence, leaving the race at the mercy of Swallowshide… or so it seemed.

The leader idled in front and was caught on the run-in by Allerton – who had looked reluctant for much of the race – under a driving finish from 17-year-old owner-trainer-rider Lilly Pinchin.

Lilly – who works for Naunton trainer Fergal O’Brien - was thrilled with her third career victory: “I honestly can’t tell you how much this means.  I was given him by Fergal, I ride him myself every day and he’s one in a million. If he doesn’t want to do it he won’t. And I was fortunate that Argentato ran out at the last.”

The other three events on the card were Maidens – one for young horses, one for mares and one Open.

The nine-runner opening race was sponsored by Tattersalls Ireland, for four to six year olds, and was taken easily by Tom Malone’s Orchardstown Cross, another winning odds-on shot: “It was pretty easy on the whole,” admitted winning rider Josh Newman. “He’s a big galloping horse so I made plenty of use of him, although he was a bit green in front when we were given a lead.”

Smallest field of the day was the seven who took part in the Haynes, Hanson & Clark Maiden for four to six-year-old mares. The race saw a comfortable pillar-to-post victory for Tim Underwood’s Irish import Cheltenham Mati in the hands of Zac Baker. The five-year-old grey led at a slow pace all the way, jumped brilliantly and won easily by eight lengths from the fast-finishing Flights (watch out for her next time), with Upton Princess three-and-a-half lengths third.

Fourteen ran in the three-mile Maiden, sponsored by Albert Bartlett, and the race went to an outsider in the shape of The Editor, trained by Sarah Gould and partnered by Shane Quinlan. The five-year-old may have been fortunate, as he was left in the lead when Shark Hanlon’s Global Racing fell five out when going well, but he was always prominent and stayed on well to beat Dewi’s Mate by eight lengths, with Round Robin a remote and staying-on third.

“He’s been going very well at home and we were hoping he’d run a good race,” admitted Sarah when questioned if her charge’s 25/1 success was a surprise. “We thought it might be a bit quick for him, but the ground’s got slower through the afternoon."

Winning rider Shane Quinlan, scoring for the second time from just 12 rides in UK point-to-points, rides out for Sarah once a week and was recommended for the ride by Martin McIntyre, who was otherwise engaged in this race.

“I was lucky enough to catch it,” he laughed. “He was weak last year,” Shane said of The Editor. “But I’ve always thought he’s a nice horse. I was looking for a lead because he’s got a mind of his own.  But we were left in front a long way out and he dug deep to win.”

After the eight races, awards were presented to Shark Hanlon as the day's Leading Trainer (sponsored by St James's Place Wealth Management), to Richard Harding as Leading Rider (sponsored by Newbury Racecourse) and to Sarah Rippon for the Outstanding Performance (sponsored by Dubarry), based on her victory with Vincitore.

Barbury International Racing Club's Nigel Bunter (right) with the visiting Shark Hanlon teamBarbury International Racing Club's Nigel Bunter (right) with the visiting Shark Hanlon team

Visit this website for full results from the meeting.

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