Encounter A Giant sets up Cheltenham bid with Lady Dudley Cup win
by Andrew King
Some high profile names have graced the winner's circle in the Lady Dudley Challenge Cup down the years and it remains one of Pointing's Classics as well as a pivotal part of sporting folklore in mid-Worcestershire.
There are those who opine the historic event does not take much winning in recent times but try telling that to rookie trainer Tom Britten, who saddled Encounter A Giant to land this year's renewal on Saturday in the gamest fashion under Henry Crow. Britten, who is in his first season as assistant to licenced trainer Alistair Ralph, was all smiles and said: "Henry has given the horse a super ride as he waited before making his challenge and I am absolutely delighted to win what was and still is the Gold Cup of Pointing as far as I am concerned.
"The cheekpieces which the horse wore for the first time when winning at Bangor have really turned him around as he came to life last time and they seem to have had the desired effect again as he was really good out there racing with plenty of enthusiasm."
In the race itself Crow was content to let Bradley Gibbs aboard Looksnowtlikebrian set a decent pace before unleashing Encounter A Giant to the head of affairs in the home straight and scoring with something up his sleeve.
Looking ahead, Britten declared that he may set his sight higher with the winner and added: "He seems to cope with most types of ground so the four miler at Cheltenham's hunter chase meeting might be in the offing as he stays so well."
Gibbs had earlier been on the mark Springtown Sal, who landed the Conditions (Level 2) contest at the expense of Imnottalkingtoyou on the mare's belated return to racecourse duties as her last outing had been when scoring at Bonvilston exactly a year ago.
The rider, who also trains the seven-year-old, explained:"She has had a few issues to say the least and picked up a stomach infection around Christmas time and lost a lot of weight. It was quite serious and I was very worried about her pulling through. However, she luckily had made a full recovery and now she is back we will have to make a little plan for her in what is left of the season so the race for her might be the Dunraven Bowl at Chepstow as it is always a nice prize to win."
The Ladies Open was run in the memory of former champion lady rider Pat Tollitt who died last December and the race went to Thegallantway and Molly Landau after the combination proved far too good for Barney Dwan.
Winning trainer Jenny Gordon said: "Hopefully that will be of some help in Molly's quest to the be champion lady novice rider as she having a little battle with Amber Jackson-Fennell and Ellie Holder for the title and this horse will keep going while the ground remains on the soft side.
The 10-year-old carries the colours of Julian Neal, who is the boss of bookmakers Betgoodwin and Gordon continued: "Julian sponsors my husband Chris's yard as well as Alan King's and he is a real enthusiast as he has travelled down from Brighton to see the horse run so thankfully he has won."
But the response from Jackson-Fennell was quick and decisive as she also found herself on the board after the Francesca Poste-trained In Our Dreams trounced the only other finisher, Pop The Question, for the Maiden Conditions race.
Mahland had obviously derived much benefit for the experience when runner-up on his debut at Maisemore Park after he rallied back past Reallyntruthfully in determined style to collect the Maiden by half a length.
Winning trainer Philip Rowley said: "It looked a decent race beforehand and the first two have come well clear. He is a three-miler in the making and plans remain fluid at present as he may be sold or we may keep him."
Rowley topped and tailed the card after Forest Chimes, positively ridden by Toby McCain-Mitchell, proved the answer to the concluding Members race in the colours of Diana Williams.
A Jet Of Our Own provided Fred Philipson-Stow with a first career winner at Maisemore Park three weeks ago and the pair followed up with the minimum of fuss in the Restricted contest.
Quote of the day
"This horse was my first winner as a trainer and now he is my second in a race like the Lady Dudley Cup - it doesn't get much better than that" - Tom Britten after Encounter A Giant's victory.