Maitree Express was the stand out performance at the Royal Artillery point to point last Saturday when winning the Mixed Open race. Other notable performances came from Satellite Receiver in the Maiden race, a first point to point winner for Amber Jackson-Fennell, a double for jockey Josh Newman and from Maid of the Night in a competitive Bumper race which concluded racing. The going was good and although it was chilly it remained dry to allow racegoers an enjoyable afternoon on Salisbury Plain.
Maitree Express bred, owned and trained by Robert Waley-Cohen was an impressive winner of a competitive Mixed Open race sponsored by Ineos. Following up his win in a Conditions race at the last meeting when ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen he was ridden on this occasion by Alice Stevens who gave the eight-year-old gelding a good ride and he defeated the hard pulling Envoye Special by ten lengths. Commenting afterwards Robert said ‘this ground was much more to his liking than the sticky going he encountered at Barbury Castle in December’ and added that a Hunter Chase may be on the agenda as possibly the Coronation Gold Cup in two week’s time might come too soon. He explained that his son Sam was away in the West Indies celebrating a 40th birthday of a close friend but Alice proved to be a more than a capable deputy.
Coco Live proved that the lack of a previous run this season was no obstacle when winning the opening Hunt race for owners Stan Rawlins and trainer Harriet Waight. Setting off in front under Charlie Sprake he made all to defeat Arcal Fifty by two lengths and both horse and rider seemed to enjoy his return to action. He may be seen again at the Combined Services meeting next month but Harriet is scheduled to attend a hen party on that day so there will be some discussion on his participation between now and then.
Satellite Receiver was a facile winner of the Maiden race for Will Biddick and trainer Chris Barber. The runner up over a shorter trip at the last meeting Will adopted different tactics this time sitting behind the leaders until taking it up three fences from home and drawing right away. An expensive store horse he ran three times in Irish point to points for Sean Doyle being placed third once. Still owned by his brother Eamonn the horse was transferred to Chris to run in English points and then to sell on. A half-brother to Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere and Sub Lieutenant he is described by Chris as ‘a proper horse’ and should have a future under N H rules and his next appearance will be at the Cheltenham Sales on Friday.
The Novice Riders race was expected to give Olive Nicholls riding Monsieur Gibraltar another winner in her fledgling riding career. However, this was not to be her day with Fan Club Aulmes and Footloose fighting out the finish with the former prevailing by three lengths. Bought by Fran Nimmo as a store he went into training with Dan Skelton but this was not a success and he returned to Fran to run in point to points last season. The winner of a Maiden and Restricted in 2021 he runs for the Picnic Partnership which is a group of owners who have paid a fixed price for the season and a guarantee of two horses to follow for the season. Ridden by Amber Jackson-Fennell this was her first point to point victory although she had ridden a winner under Rules at Market Rasen for Richard Hobson. Amber, 20, joined Fran and Charlie Poste about three months ago and hopes to get other opportunities from the stable during the season.
The Conditions race provided the first leg of Josh’s double aboard John and Floss Symes Sixteen Letters. Placed second on numerous occasions over recent seasons this was a deserved victory particularly bearing in mind the horse’s breathing issues. Examined by Ben Brain he reported that the horse could not have a wind operation due to his throat being so deformed but despite this that was his fifth career victory. Trained by Neil Mclean at Woolminstone near Crewkerne he was given a very positive ride by Josh and he had three lengths in hand from favourite Dragon d’Estruval ridden by Ben Bromley.
A front running performance from Lagonda ridden by Tommie O’Brien was too good for her three rivals in the Restricted race. The runner up to The Big Sting at the last meeting she made no mistake to reward her owner Trea Newell who explained that her home bred mare had suffered a severe infection last year and if it had not been for the care and treatment of the vets at Newmarket, she may not have made a full recovery. A half-sister to Top Bandit already the winner of four races for Gordon Elliott in 2021 Trea reported that she has three more of the family at home the youngest being a yearling.
Josh secured his double when riding Maid of the Night for former National Hunt jockey Mark Grant based in Lambourn in the concluding 2-mile Bumper race. Strongly fancied on her debut at Barbury Castle in December she found the sharp turns not to her liking but put in a strong performance here to defeat Ballela Sunrise ridden by Bradley Gibbs. Bred by Mark’s mother Liz and owned by his wife Eimear Mark indicated the mare’s next appearance is scheduled to be at the Cheltenham Sales on Friday. Related to the prolific Menorah also bred by Liz Grant she is sure to attract interest at the sale.