Bridgwater bags double to end Fontwell drought
REPORT: FONTWELL, Sunday
DAVID BRIDGWATER rode plenty of winners at the track in his time with champion trainer Martin Pipe but had suffered near misses as a trainer until Neutrino and Runshan, both ridden by Sean Quinlan, put the record straight in no uncertain manner.
Neutrino, reversing Bangor form with the far from fluent favourite Tempsford, did not go unsupported by the well-named Building Bridgies ownership group and Sean Quinlan drove the six-year-old clear from the last.
Bridgwater was fullof praise for clerk of the course Edward Arkell, who had his sanity questioned in the racing forums over his going description of good.
"I've pulled the horse out twice because the ground had gone against him as he needs good ground. The ground was perfect.
"The horses have been in good order at home and it's nice tosee them do it on the track," added Bridgwater, who has 26 horses in and more to come at his Stow-in-the-Wold yard which he bought four years ago and has been developing since.
To back up that assertion, Runshan joined the party in winning his first race at the belated age of eight, having had more than his fair share of problems.
Completing the stable's 44-1 double, he showed he has plenty of guts as he fought off a series of challenges, jumping much better than his rivals as he answered all calls for Quinlan, who needs four more winners to have his claim cut to 3lb.
Amateur jockey Gemma Gracey-Davison, representing Britain in the Fegentri series on the Flat when winning in Norway recently, showed her all-rounder qualities as she jumped Just Bewareround to beat the Tony McCoy-partnered Gun Smith in the handicap hurdle.
The win was a pleasant surprise to connections with trainer Zoe Davison expecting the mare to just need this run back off a six-week summer break out in a field.
Harry Findlay and entourage were on hand to see Woolfall Treasure make a winning start in the juvenile hurdle after his big-money purchase out of George Margarson's stable, so it was hardly surprising the shade of odds-on in the morning evaporated as the Gary Moore-trained winner was sent off 4-11.
Findlay said: "He was bought by Tim Corby who said send it to Gary and run him at Fontwell to get the money back. He wasn't cheap so there was a lot of pressure today, backing him from evens to 4-11. Today was his Champion Hurdle."
Irish Whispers, boosting trainer Brendan Powell's three-figure profit to a £1 stake on his runners at the track, got home in a driving finish under Sam Jones in the claiming hurdle, 18 months after his life was on the line when he broke down badly at Wincanton on his last start over jumps.
Powell, who lost the five-year-old to a rival claim, said: "This is down to the owner Les Gilbert as I wasn't at Wincanton and the vet got him back into the racecourse stables and wanted to put him down but Les said no, wanting to retire him as he does with his horses. We're walking on eggshells every day with him with his legs."
Captain Becket makes up for what he lacks in stature in heart as he battled on gamely for his conditional Tom O'Connor to deny a Moore family double from Flying Spirit in the staying handicap hurdle.
Winning trainer and breeder Jimmy Frost said: "He was born on owner Norman Lake's and his dam's half-sister is The Bakewell Boy whom Norman owned. I tried to sell him unbroken as a polo pony he was that small."
Clerk of the course Edward Arkell, who had to put up with plenty of abuse and sarcasm down the telephone line in rightly sticking by his going description of good jumping ground with most of the country under water