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Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Review

Press Release 5th March 2024 Wincanton

By Robert Bracher

Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Review

The weather gods did their level best to disrupt the annual running of the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale point to point by first of all raining for much of the lead up to the meeting and then on Saturday morning producing enough snow to need for a further inspection to be held before the meeting could go ahead. However, the weather relented and on the day of the meeting it was a pleasant early spring day and a large crowd enjoyed the races where Will Biddick secured a hat trick of winning rides, Josh Newman had a training double and Olive Nicholls had a winning return to race riding after suffering an injury at Larkhill in January.

Will and Josh shared the riding spoils in the Tattersalls Jockey Club sponsored 4- and 5-year-old Maiden race when the judge could not separate Rip Wheeler and Mount Mason after a battle between them over the final two fences and declared a dead heat. Both had shown promise on their debuts and were fancied to win the race. Rip Wheeler, a four year old gelding by Walk In The Park , was bought at the Goffs Land Rover Sales for 62K Euros. Trained by Eamonn O’Donnabhain at a separate yard close to Tom Lacey’s National Hunt stables alongside four other horses he is likely to next be seen at a forthcoming sale.

A similar future awaits Mount Mason, a five-year-old son of Sandmason bought as a three-year-old in May 2022 at the Tattersalls Store Sale for 12K Euros for Shannon Lodge Racing. Kayley Woollacott on behalf of Josh explained that’ he was too weak to run last season’ and ‘has benefited from another year to strengthen up’ He ran well on his debut at Garthorpe and connections had been hopeful of a good run.

Will secured his second winner of the day aboard his father-in-law Rupert Nuttall’s Comonilean in the Manor Farm Partnership sponsored Open Maiden race. Always prominent he held off the strong challenge of Prophesea ridden by Callum Pritchard after the last fence and won by a head. Trained and bred by Rupert on his farm out of the mare Annie Fleetwood who won three chases and a Hurdle this was a popular winner for all of the local connections. A full sister to Lassue who Rupert sold last year, it is unlikely that this mare will follow the same route as she is the last of the family line. Explaining her name Rupert advised that ‘her stable name is Eileen and I spent some time coming up with a name that incorporated her stable name’ There is no truth that Rupert is a fan of Dexy’s Midnight Runners!

Olive had her first ride back when walking over on Shantou Flyer in the Keagan Kirkby Memorial Members race but was able to secure another winner on the same horse when making all in the Paul Barber Mixed Open race later in the afternoon. Jumping well for Olive the veteran was too good for the mare Singapore Saga and his next outing is likely to be in the Cheltenham Foxhunters where Olive finished third last season. Proud father Paul Nicholls expressed his delight at picking up both the Trophy in memory of John Farthing in the Members Race and the Paul Barber Memorial Trophy which had originally been presented to Paul after the success of See More Business in the Charlie Hall Chase in 2000.

Will secured the final leg of his treble aboard the classy Mr Glass in the Alec Jarrett Conditions Race. Previously owned by John Dance he had suffered a leg injury on his last run under Rules when trained by Paul Nicholls and needed a lengthy break from racing. Bought by Paul for Olive to ride this season he had previously won a Mixed Open at Chipley for Will and although he only beat Pileon ridden by Natalie Parker by a length and a half he did not look in danger of defeat. Boasting a third behind Constitution Hill in the 2022 Tolworth Hurdle he took some time to adapt to the move away from Ditcheat to the different training regime at Will’s yard but has now settled into the new routine. Ridden at home in draw reins he may be aimed next at either a Ladies Open or a Hunter Chase for Olive and he looks an exciting prospect for her for the rest of the season.

Josh trained the winner of the final race The Church House Investments sponsored Restricted race when Whitsand Bay ridden by Darren Andrews held off the challenge of Thatshalfthebattle. Previously owned and trained by Chris Wald who had bought the gelding as an unbroken four old but finding his role as Assistant Trainer to Joe Tizzard to be too time consuming to give the eight-year-old a proper training routine he indicated that he was for sale. Acquired by Josh and Kayley Woollacott in February for long term supporters John and Sonia Gardener, this was the first time his new owners had seen their purchase and they were delighted with his success. Kayley added that ‘he had finished behind Hearts Corner at Chipley and as we rate that gelding highly, we thought that Whitsand Bay would be a good purchase’


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