A ‘big-race’ double put trainer Richard Bandey in the headlines once again last week.
First he saddled Fortune Bound to pull off a 50/1 shock in the £8,000 Connolly’s RED MILLS Intermediate Point-to-Point Championship Final at Cheltenham on Friday, and the following day he showed a smart turn of foot to win the lead-rein pony race at Hackwood Park, guiding his son Jasper to victory on Eric.
Based in Tadley on the Hampshire/Berkshire border, the former amateur rider will be happy saddling many more Connolly’s RED MILLS’ winners, but he said: “I’ve got four children aged from seven to 12 weeks, and that means I have another seven years of lead-rein pony races!”
Bandey is creating a notable record in Connolly’s RED MILLS’ finals, with Fortune Bound’s win coming 12 months after that of his stablemate, Woodfleet – both horses were ridden by Martin McIntyre. Another Bandey-trained runner, Alskamatic, was runner-up in 2014 under Claire Hardwick.
Speaking on Bank Holiday Monday, Bandey said of nine-year-old Fortune Bound: “I couldn’t be happier with him. He came out of his box bouncing the following morning. Anna [Reed, the owner of Fortune Bound and Woodfleet] likes to end on a high note and wants to take him back to the Isle of Wight for his summer holidays now, but I’m trying to twist her arm to let me run him at Stratford [June 8].
“I knew he was well before Cheltenham, and had never had him in better shape, but I couldn’t believe his price – he should have been 10/1 not 50/1. Everything else had been winning on soft or heavy ground, and I think the horse who beat him [on his previous start] at Badbury Rings [Blackwater Bramble] is alright, and we gave him 5lb. After that race Fortune Bound had a couple of weeks to freshen up and the ground came right – that had a lot to do with it.
“I told ‘Fly’ [McIntyre] not to get to the front too soon, but the horse was running away with him, and he had no option but to go on. He was idling in front on the run-in.”
There was to be no idling the following day, and after Eric the pony and Bandeys’ Senior and Junior had beaten two other rivals, the comments-in-running were: “Raced in mid-division early; pulled clear final 20 metres; unextended.”
Fortune Bound’s win at Cheltenham completed the eleventh season of point-to-point sponsorship by feed manufacturers Connolly’s RED MILLS. The winner scored by two and three-quarters of a length and three and a half lengths from the mares Thegirlfrommilan (8/1, Bradley Gibbs), trained by David Gibbs, and Kalaballo (33/1, Gina Andrews), from the stable of Tom Ellis.
Duhallow Tornado (2/1 favourite, Tom Strawson) was one of the first runners to come under pressure before staying on late to take fourth, but trainer Chris Pimlott and the horse’s owners, the All For The Craic Partnership, had some consolation the following day when their Streets Of Milan won Hexham’s Heart of All England Hunters’ Chase.