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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

The curious case of Ludlow and the Magnus-Allcrofts

Stokesay Court: former home of Sir Philip and Lady Magnus-Allcroft
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A few words to prepare you for Ludlow and the Magnus-Allcroft Memorial Open Hunters’ Chase (5.00).

Magnus-Allcrofts are in short supply so the relevant one is probably made up of Sir Philip Montefiore Magnus and Jewell Allcroft. Very sensibly, Magnus married Allcroft, who equally sensibly inherited the splendid Stokesay Court in Shropshire. Shortly afterwards, in 1951, Magnus changed his name to Magnus-Allcroft and the couple, grappling with death duties, lived in a few rooms while the rest of the mansion fell into becalmed disrepair.

Sir Philip died in 1988 and Lady Magnus-Allcroft, by then a recluse, in 1992. Two years later it took Sotheby’s four days to sell off the contents of Stokesay Court, much of which had been undisturbed for decades in attics and cellars.

You may have noticed that, so far, there is no mention of either horses or hunting. That is because I can’t find any. Perhaps the race is run in memory of a completely different Magnus-Allcroft or perhaps the Magnus-Allcrofts’ hunting interests have escaped me or perhaps they didn’t have any but someone thought it would be nice to name a race after one or both of them anyway. Like so many things in life, it’s a puzzle.

King of Ludlow?

It’s an intriguing race, made more so by the participation of Dantes King, all the way from Ross O’Sullivan’s yard at The Curragh. A multiple winner of point-to-points and under Rules, Dantes King once had a reputation for being “quirky,” a word that, roughly translated, means “just when it looks as if he’s going to win, he decides not to.”

It will be interesting to see what Dantes King makes of Ludlow’s road system (the one criss-crossing the track) and it will be interesting to see whether or not Tim Easterby, having what may well be his first runner at Ludlow in the shape of Ifandbutwhynot (3.30), puts in a personal appearance.

Easterby has booked Richard Johnson, although I’m not sure why; he isn’t very good. After all, Johnson’s ridden Ifandbutwhynot, a winner seven times, on four occasions and finished 5th, 6th, 7th and 7th. We can only hope that, with practice, Johnson will have improved.

Earlier, the champion jockey rides the curiously named Atirelarigo (2.00), a horse whose recent performances reveal a clear pattern. He either falls, unseats his rider or wins. It makes it difficult for punters and hazardous for jockeys, which may explain why Atirelarigo has given up chasing for the time being in favour of hurdling.

He’ll be facing the even more curiously named Ckalco Des Loges. Dan Skelton’s French bred five-year-old is by Balko out of Olla Des Loges which brings us near the probable truth without establishing it satisfactorily.

Meanwhile, I’ve long thought Floramoss (Kelso 4.10) should be able to win a race of this kind (modest mares’ novices’ stayers’ hurdle), which goes to show how wrong you can be. It can’t be that difficult and, like her owners – The Lingdale Optimists – I approach the race full of, well, optimism.

You may have noticed that, so far, there is no mention of either horses or hunting. That is because I can’t find any
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