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Barbury International Racing Club point-to-point attracts a big crowd big fields & six Irish raiders

Winter sun: The Dellercheckout (nearest camera) edges ahead coming into the home straightWinter sun: The Dellercheckout (nearest camera) edges ahead coming into the home straightExactly 100 competitors stepped up to the oche for the Barbury International Racing Club point-to-point at Barbury racecourse (December 15) and it was The Dellercheckout – named after a famous moment in darts – who hit the bullseye when landing the feature race, the 13-runner Plusvital Mixed Open.

Caroline Robinson’s six-year-old, given a clever and patient ride by daughter Immy, made gradual progress from mid-division on the final circuit and hit the front from long-time leader Don Bersy two out.


However, the jockey didn’t want to hit the front too soon so took a pull, keeping the front-runner in her sights before overhauling him on the run-in to score by a cosy length. Inchcolm, always prominent, was two lengths third.

The Dellercheckout (No. 18) jumping well & held up toward the rear in the back straight The Dellercheckout (No. 18) jumping well & held up toward the rear in the back straight

“I bought him at Doncaster in May from the Paul Nicholls yard,” Caroline told me afterwards. “I thought he looked a lovely horse in the ring, but he’s only six and was sold for a lot of money after winning his Irish point as a four-year-old, so I thought ‘Why have they sold him again so soon?’"


"Luckily I haven’t found any issues with him so far and he’s easy to train.” Caroline admitted to being hopeful beforehand and agreed that the plan was to hold The Dellercheckout up: “He can be spooky.  So I told Immy to hold on to him.”

Jockey Immy Robinson Jockey Immy Robinson   The PlusVital Mixed Open Race presentation The PlusVital Mixed Open Race presentation

Quizzed on plans for The Dellercheckout, Caroline – who was the first lady rider to win at Cheltenham when winning the 1983 Foxhunters on Eliogarty in the same colours as were carried today – smiled: “We can dream… I’d love to aim big and I’ve always wanted another horse to go to Cheltenham, but we’ll take it step-by-step.”


The performance of the day arguably came in the Jockey Club and Retraining of Racehorses Conditions race, which saw 17 – the largest field of the day – go to post. Having pulled up – after nearly refusing – at Cottenham on his reappearance after a two-year absence, Horizontal Speed was friendless in the market, despite trainer Alan Hill’s excellent record.


However, the 11-year-old and Charlie Marshall were always prominent and drew gradually further clear on the second circuit. Despite a blunder two out, the pair were unchallenged to score by 25 lengths and three-and-a-quarter from Western Diva and The Dapper Fox, both of whom came from a long way back.


The Highflyer Bloodstock Novice Riders race was run in two divisions. The second, with 11 starters, looked hotter on paper and so it proved, trainer Sally Randell’s Call Me Vic winning in a ten second quicker time than the first event.

Call Me Vic comes in as winner of the Novice Riders Conditions race Call Me Vic comes in as winner of the Novice Riders Conditions race

With rider Albi Tufnell declining the early frenetic pace, the 12-year-old – who ran well in a good Open at Larkhill last time – shadowed market rival Ballykan behind the early leaders and went second four out before hitting the front at the last and holding on by a comfortable length and a half. Ueueteotl (I’m glad I wasn’t commentating) was the length of the run-in back in third.


Sally was represented by Fergal O’Brien – with whom she works.  He joked: “She’s at Carlisle – I sent her there as it’s too far for me! Albi was very good tactically today as they went too fast in front.”

Fergal O'Brien Fergal O'Brien     A delighted Albi Tufnell A delighted Albi Tufnell

Owner – and the jockey’s father – Mark Tufnell explained: “Sally bought Call Me Vic from Tom George for Albi to ride and it’s his third win on him. We weren’t going to run today as we thought it would be too soft, but we’re glad we decided to have a go.”


Division one went the way of Trojan Star, a debut success for rider Kyran Tompkins and a welcome first since 2017 for trainer Simon Gilmore. In the leading group throughout, he quickened to lead on the final bend and always looked to be holding runner-up Little Windmill and eventual third Drumhart – two others who raced prominently – by three-and-a-half lengths and nine.


The finish of the Flat Race - (right) Raffle Ticket & (left) Fix the Bill The finish of the Flat Race - (right) Raffle Ticket & (left) Fix the Bill   Fix the Bill gets cooled downFix the Bill gets cooled down

The opening Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Point-to-Point Flat Race had 11 runners and went the way of the favourite, Phil Rowley’s Raffle Ticket, enjoying a fifth winner of the fledgling season.


Former champion – and early leader in this campaign’s title race – Alex Edwards always looked to be going well in mid-division and moved smoothly to lead four furlongs out, holding on easily by one-and-a-half lengths and three-quarters of a length from the held-up Fix The Bill and Vain Girl, who raced up with the pace.


Eugene O’Sullivan was responsible for five of the six Irish raiders, but was out of luck – Fix The Bill’s “bumper” second being his best result. However, the other runner from Ireland – Cormac Doyle’s One True King – took a trophy back across the sea when winning the nine-runner Goffs UK Open Maiden in the hands of James King.


Sent into the lead at the second, the four-year-old was never headed thereafter, quickened clear in the back straight and held on by four-and-a-half lengths from Young O’Leary, who seemed to run in snatches. The always-prominent Lagonda was four lengths third.


Eleven faced the starter for the Alan King Racing and the Jockey Club Mares Maiden and the spoils went to Lady Sally, a first-ever pointing runner as a trainer for professional pilot Mark Grant.

Alan King makes the presentation to Lady Sally's jockey Zac Baker, trainer Mark Grant - & family  Alan King makes the presentation to Lady Sally's jockey Zac Baker, trainer Mark Grant - & family

Held up in mid-division by Zac Baker, she went second and the penultimate fence, led at the last and held on by one-and-three-quarter lengths from fellow jumping debutante So Socksy, who had kicked on after three out. Janeslittlevoice finished eight lengths away in third.


Proceedings concluded with the Tattersalls Ireland Open Maiden, which had 14 runners, and gave a happy ending to the day for Ryan Potter following two earlier seconds. Held up by Bradley Gibbs and fit following a recent Dunsmore third, Family Man hit the front two out and won by two lengths from Clever Des Assence – who was always in the firing line – with The Minkle, making an encouraging return from nearly four years off and one to watch next time, three further back in third.


FOOTNOTE: it was a cold day on the downs - with just one prolonged and icy shower.  The meeting attracted a larger crowd than usual - and the size of the fields and the quality of the racing brought many plaudits from point-to-point fans.

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