TOM ELLIS, who trains at Marton near Rugby, marched on at the top of the Foran Trainers’ Championship with a fabulous 27-1 four-timer at the Kingston Blount Racing Club meeting at Kingston Blount, near Chinnor.
The champion trainer took his tally for the campaign to 28 with wins from Every Minute (11-10 fav), Al Shahir (13-8), Master Templar (5-4 fav) and Latenightfumble (5-4) with his wife, Gina Andrews, riding a treble.
Ellis won the corresponding race to the ‘Start Royal’ Men’s Open as a rider on The Hookie Bookie for trainer Jimmy Tarry in 2008, and he gave the leg up to Zac Baker on Al Shahir to take this year’s renewal, sponsored by Hilda and Stewart Nash in honour of their prolific winner.
Baker, having his first ride back after five weeks off with a broken collarbone following a last-fence fall at Ludlow, made all the running on the 10-year-old, before stretching away to score by 15 lengths from Streets Of London and Phil York, with Sir Mangan third.
Ellis, who also heads the Ice and a Slice Racing Club, which owns Al Shahir, said: “He is a real fun horse and a terrific syndicate horse. He has run three times this season and won twice.”
Baker added: “He has got a lot of class and he just cruised round. I didn’t realise how far clear I was jumping the last – it was amazing.”
An excellent day for Ellis’s Marton stables, near Rugby, was kick-started by Andrews employing similar front-running tactics on Every Minute to take the second division of the French Horn Hotel Maiden by 11 lengths from Equus Flight, with York again runner-up.
Formerly trained by Roger McGrath at Cappoquin in County Waterford, the six-year-old was beaten by less than a length when fourth in a Tipperary bumper last May.
Ellis said: “David Phelan found him for us in Ireland from the same person who recommended Dubai Quest to us. That was why we were keen to get him on the team.
“He came with quite a reputation, and he has been to Ben Brain for a bit of wind surgery, which has helped him.”
The son of Yeats is owned by Steven Howlett, Julia Morris-Lowe, Mickey Wills and John Docker, who said: “This is the syndicate that had Haymount, who retired and is now Gina’s hunter. They found this one for us. We couldn’t ask for more from his first run.”
Andrews made it a double and a treble for her husband on Master Templar in the Woodway Farm Racing Restricted over 2m 5f.
The eight-time ladies’ champion tracked the leaders on the seven-year-old before zipping round the outside on the bend approaching the second-last fence, and quickly going clear to beat Evron and Milo Herbert by seven lengths.
Andrews said: “He is a strong traveller, which makes my job easier. He is much better going left-handed. I had a job steering him at Horseheath.”
Owner Jenny Hayward added: “That was exciting. We bought him on spec 12 months ago, and now he has won twice and been a short-head second.”
Ellis and Andrews crowned the day when Latenightfumble comprehensively turned the tables on her Chaddesley Corbett conqueror, Fier Jaguen, in the Intermediate, sponsored by the family of the late Tony Naylor.
Bradley Gibbs attempted to make all the running on Fier Jaguen, but Andrews always had him in her sights, and after sending her mount on at the fourth-last, Latenightfumble bounded away to win by 40 lengths with Peeping Thom, the only other runner, pipping the favourite on the run-in for second.
Ellis said: “I don’t think the favourite has necessarily run his race. I think ours is a big improver. She is very similar to train as her brother (Latenightpass), and is probably slightly better than he was at the same age.”
Latenightfumble is owned and bred by Ellis’s mother, Pippa, whose husband, Tony, added: “It is nice to win this race. Tony did a lot of work on the gate here and it’s nice to have a race in his memory.”
Ellis and Andrews had to settle for minor honours with 4-6 favourite Deans Road in the Lucy Rowton-Lee 21st Birthday Ladies’ Open, sponsored by Wainhill Vintage Caravans, as Agamemmon swooped late under Alice Homer for a thrilling victory.
Andrews led on last year’s winner going down Crowell Knoll for the final time, but both Agamemmon, owned and trained by Homer’s grandfather, David Tatlow, and Stay Out Of Court and Jessica Smith, challenged strongly at the last fence.
It was Homer’s mount who stayed on best to triumph by half a length from Stay Out Of Court, with Deans Road a length and a quarter back in third.
Homer said: “At the end he really wanted to win. My mum, Lorraine, gave him his last gallop yesterday and he is just a dream.”
Tatlow, who is based at Honington, near Shipton-on-Stour, commented: “I gave her instructions not to challenge until halfway up the run-in and she left it until three-quarters of the way – that’s what I call a racing brain.”
Freddie Mitchell notched his first winner since returning to the point-to-point ranks after an eight-year gap on Buachaill Dana in the first division of the French Horn Hotel Maiden for Ashford trainer David Phelan.
The 27-year-old Lambourn-based rider – a former conditional jockey with Nicky Henderson – produced the five-year-old with a well-timed challenge to collar Keaden Hill and Bradley Gibbs on the run-in for a length-and-three-quarters success.
Having also spent three years with Guy Cherel at Maisons-Laffitte and two seasons as assistant to Jamie Snowden, Mitchell is now riding out for Clive Cox.
He said: “I decided I wanted to focus on the riding. That’s my third pointing ride back since 2014. My last winner was at Toulouse in 2018. It hasn’t genuinely sunk in yet. I am just delighted.”
Buachaill Dana was a first winner for Paul Burden as a sole owner, and Phelan, who bought the gelding out of Terence O’Brien’s Carrigtoohill yard in County Cork, added: “He was second at Charing over two-and-a-half miles and I knew he was a three-mile horse, so I thought he would win. He stayed well.”
Alex Chadwick is enjoying his best season, and he added to his tally on Castle Trump, who made it three wins from four starts this term with a commanding display in the Kingston Blount Racing Club Conditions Race (Level 3), sponsored by Denys Moylan.
Having taken up the running going up Crowell Knowell for the second time, the eight-year-old, trained by Rob Cundy at Semer in Suffolk, powered clear to beat Scooby and Daniel Kyne by 11 lengths.
Chadwick said: “I could hear a lot of commotion behind me, but he doesn’t stop and keeps galloping. There is definitely more to come from this horse.”
Cundy added of the Charles Buckle-owned gelding’s success: “The ground really suited him, and we have learnt today that he can come from behind and doesn’t have to make the running. He could go to Cheltenham or Stratford later in the season.”