Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Wet, Wet, Wet & Wonderful Wincanton .... But Oh the Prize Money

Firstly, please accept best wishes for a great New Year, and may there be plenty of winners.

Really encouragingly for Owners for Owners, we finished the year on a high when Quick Decisson (not our name or spelling, by the way – we bought him named from Irish point-to-pointing), trained by Philip Hobbs and superbly ridden by Tom O’Brien, won at Wincanton on Boxing Day. It’s not often in racing that a horse follows the script, but for our first-ever runner under the Owners for Owners banner to win his first-ever race under rules was a fabulous start. It was the last race on the card, the weather was filthy, the going appalling, the floodlights almost had to be switched on to watch it in the dank early evening gloom .... but for all the owners, it was a real high with much embracing and kissing in that wonderful moment just after the line when you know you’ve won a race. We knew that QD (aka “Denis”) had shown a fair bit of toe at home, reflecting a US-bred, speedy dam line, but it was really encouraging to see the stamina kick in as he stayed on up the long Wincanton home straight. He won relatively easily, with a number of decent horses well behind him. There is an interesting form line through Mr Marvellous, whom we thrashed into 10th place, trained by Colin Tizzard. He had run 4th behind Oscar Rock in a good bumper at Newbury at the end of November, and is currently in the top half of the ante-post betting for the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival. Philip intends to reflect on the result for a week or so, and then decide whether to stay bumping or switch to novice hurdling. Either route is fine with us.

The directors at Wincanton could not have been more generous after the race, as they plied us with sandwiches, mince pies, champagne and free run of their well-stocked bar. The new Chairman of Wincanton, Guy Henderson, went out of his way to be friendly to everyone and it is easy to see why this track is regularly voted the best racecourse in the South West. He is determined to introduce lots of innovations and has set a goal of doubling the number of annual members. Best of luck to him.

However, one of the Jon Hughes Laws of Racing is that the longer the name of the race, the lower the prize-money. Denis won the “Connolly’s Red Mills Bumper Challenge Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race”, and in the process bagged the derisory first prize of £1,364.58. Second, third and fourth picked up around £400, £200 and £100 respectively. That is scant reward for the investment in horses aged 4-6. I’ll be examining the whole area of prize-money on the blog throughout 2013.

On the way back, Jack and I called in to our Lambourn recommended pub, The Pheasant, for a (quick?) celebration. I’m sure you noticed that there was another decent race on during Boxing Day, for rather higher prize money, namely the King George at Kempton, won very bravely by Long Run beating Philip Hobbs’ Captain Chris by a head. We walked into the bar and stepped straight into the post-race party with all the Waley-Cohen family including jockey, Sam. We didn’t want to intrude but they immediately started talking to us and when they found out that we had just won the bumper at Wincanton they seemed genuinely thrilled for us. To be slapped on the back and told “Really well done, you’ve got to start somewhere .... Who knows, it could be you winning at Kempton in a few years’ time” was the icing on the cake of Denis’s win.

Boxing Day hangover has now just about worn off!


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