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Keyflow Stage1v3

Second Barbury International point-to-point attracts entries from two Irish trainers to run in some more than Irish weather

Even during the first race the rain & mist dominated proceedingsEven during the first race the rain & mist dominated proceedingsThe weather for the second running of the Barbury International Racing Club point-to-point (January 20) was, an official told, 'foul'.  Grey tending to twilight with a drizzle that only gave up occasionally and cloud or mist that at times came so low that it hid the far side of the course.

It failed, however, to dampen the spirits of supporters and the crowd was rewarded with a total of 113 runners in the nine races that took place.

The going looked heavy enough, though the winning jockey of the opening race,  visiting Irish rider Maxine O'Sullivan, declared: "It's lovely compared to Ireland." However, the big fields, the number of races and the rain took their toll, and the third division of the closing bumper was abandoned due to the state of the ground.

Highlight of the meeting was the Mixed Open, sponsored by Weatherbys Hamilton, which saw 15 runners including the reappearance of Barel of Laughs, winner of the Cheltenham's Timico Mixed Open Final and third in the Cheltenham Foxhunters in 2017.

Barel of Laughs runs in the familiar colours of Mrs Peter Andrews - owner of Smad Place.  Punters saw the contest as a two-horse race between Barel of Laughs and top Welsh pointer Colorado Doc and looked likely to be proved right as the short-priced pair went clear six out.

Saddlers Encore, a useful hurdler for Philip Hobbs making his pointing debut, crept closer round the final bend as Barel of Laughs tried to assert his authority, then joined the leader at the last and stayed on to win by a length.

Colorado Doc’s owner-trainer, Bridgend-based David Brace had better luck in the following Highflyer Bloodstock Novice Riders race, which saw 13 go to post. Favourite William Money, ridden by David’s young grandson Connor Brace, made a quick reappearance after a second place last weekend to win comfortably by six lengths from Ardkilly Witness.

Ally Stirling receives her prize from Barbury trainer Alan King Ally Stirling receives her prize from Barbury trainer Alan King   Connor Brace after his victoryConnor Brace after his victory

There was a second Welsh success in the Greatwood Trophy Conditions race for ten-year-olds plus over a testing trip of three miles six furlongs. 13 ran and Lotus Pond won for owners William and Mandy Bryan, whose son Peter took the ride, and Pembrokeshire trainer Mickey Bowen.

The rest of the card – with four Maidens and two point-to-point Flat Races – was dedicated to young horses and it was fitting, with the great efforts made to attract Irish runners, that Bailarico trained across the water took the opening 11-runner Tattersalls Ireland Maiden for four, five and six-year-olds.

Bailarico was one of four on the card saddled by Eugene O’Sullivan. (Fellow Irish trainer Shark Hanlon brought over seven horses and was rewarded with two second places.)

A member of JJ Hanlon's staff sporting his Shark motif A member of JJ Hanlon's staff sporting his Shark motif   Visiting Irish trainer Eugene O'Sullivan Visiting Irish trainer Eugene O'Sullivan

The surprise about his victory at 20/1 under Eugene’s daughter, top Irish female rider Maxine O’Sullivan, was that he started at such a long price. Second early before dropping back, he rallied to lead at the second last and kept on to beat favourite Danseur Du Large by one and three-quarter lengths, with long-time leader Dissertation – returning after a year off with a broken leg – three-quarters back in third.

A mud-spattered Maxine O'Sullivan after her first race victoryA mud-spattered Maxine O'Sullivan after her first race victoryMartin McIntyre after his victory on DefinitelyanoscarMartin McIntyre after his victory on DefinitelyanoscarMaxine was delighted with Bailarico's performance:  “He’s been running on heavy and enjoyed the good ground here – we’d have to wait until April for this going back home.”

Maxine obviously enjoyed her first visit to Barbury and expressed hopes that more Irish trainers will take part in the fixture in future: “It's a beautiful track.  And we need to be more organised about coming next year. Bailarico’s been running in good four-year-old Maidens and there are a lot of pointers in Ireland that don’t win first time out to be sold-on.”

The following Goffs UK Jockey Club Maiden for younger fillies went the way of the hot favourite, odds-on shot Definitelyanoscar, a first runner for 20-year-old Chris Barber. Riden by Martin McIntyre, she was always prominent, took the lead five out and won unchallenged by 15 lengths from Shark Hanlon's Whistling Dolly.

Another young trainer breaking his duck was 23-year-old Jake Slatter, based at Winchcombe. His Bally River Boy, joint-favourite was successful in the 11-runner first division of the Albert Bartlett Open Maiden race.  Ridden by Ally Stirling, he made the most of a slowly-run contest and stayed on well to beat Skyhill Allstar by seven lengths.

Ten went to post in the second division of the Open Maiden, and Inmyday’s success moved 2015 champion trainer Alan Hill on to five for the season and first place in this season’s title race.

Always towards the front and looking in control for most of the final circuit, the ex-Irish seven-year-old idled in front when left clear four out and finished tired, holding on by five lengths from Snow Puma, who made late progress. It was also Inmyday's jockey Joe Hill's fifth win of the year.

The mist descended before the first division of the bumper so it was hard, if not impossible, to see what was happening on the far side. However, as the 13 starters emerged from the gloom, Strike Hollow - another Welsh trained entry - was in front and she held on by one-and-a-half lengths for Ben Jones from long-time leader Schiap Hill with Billygwyn Too finishing fast for third, one-and-a-quarter lengths behind.

The Hills were quickly joined on five winners by trainer Philip Rowley and jockey Alex Edwards, who took Nobby to win the second division of the JRL Group Point-to-Point Flat Race.

All 16 declared entries ran. Midfield early, the flat-bred four-year-old Nobby moved up half a mile out and took a lead with a furlong to go to win cosily by a length from Shometheway, who had led for most of the last mile.

Awards were made to Philip Rowley as the Leading Trainer on the day (sponsored by Equine Products) and to Chloe Newman for the Outstanding Performance (sponsored by Dubarry), for bringing Saddlers Encore back to win the feature event after such a long lay-off.

Visit this website for full results from this meeting.  The next Point-to-Point at Barbury Racecourse will be the Vineand Craven meeting on February 11.

Thanks - again - to Jake Exelby.

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