MELISSA JONES: Looking back on Wales' tremendous season

South Wales Argus: PROUD: Gwent trainer Robert Stephens and Modus PROUD: Gwent trainer Robert Stephens and Modus

TEAFORTHREE meeting the Queen capped a vintage National Hunt season for Wales.

The ten-year-old was chosen to appear for Her Majesty's approval at Wales' first ever horse hospital, Cotts in Pembrokeshire, on Wednesday, by trainer Rebecca Curtis.

Co-owner Nigel Roddis said his horse, who unseated in last month's Grand National when well-fancied, has been receiving treatment for a knock he picked up earlier on in the race.

"He's had an issue with one of his legs and has been pretty sore," he told the Argus.

"We were desperately disappointed he wasn't able to run his race, we just want him to enjoy himself and he clearly didn't. He had a great spin in the Gold Cup though. It's ridiculous really the amount of publicity this horse gets. There has been some fantastic moments but tragic ones aswell; he was JT's (McNamara) final Cheltenham winner, AP McCoy rides him often and he always races prominently."

A firm favourite with the racing public, it is hoped Teaforthree can return next year for Curtis, whose O'Faolains Boy roared to glory in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival; her third winner overall there.

It was a brilliant win which gained higher status after the race, as Curtis clutched a shoe her horse had torn off as battles began in earnest. Words were a little shy from her but the beaming smile said it all.

Curtis was not the only Welsh trainer to stand in the Cheltenham winner's enclosure, as at its other meetings Evan Williams secured a treble.

Buywise, King Massini and Ballyglasheen were the three Llancarfan heroes and it's the former who Williams is most looking forward to next year.

"If Buywise can brush up his jumping there's no doubt he's a very talented horse. He could turn into a Hennessy Gold Cup contender and reminds me a lot of State of Play who won the race for us; that's the type of engine he has," said Williams, who chose Wychwoods Brook's win in the Peter Marsh Chase as one of his favourites this year.

Court Minstrel did his bit too, winning a handicap hurdle at Aintree on Grand National day before scything through the pack to collar My Tent or Yours in his second successive Scottish Champion Hurdle bid. That was until Cockney Sparrow emerged from nowhere. Never underestimate the powers of a female.

"Court Minstrel will jump a fence in the next month or so and we'll see where we are, but I'm not ruling out him running on the Flat this summer," Williams added.

The highlight of that meeting last month, the Scottish National, went to Peter Bowen's Al Co.

Surviving a wayward course on the run in, he proved the trainer's opinion of him correct at Chepstow, when he told reporters the horse was a decent animal.

The bigger Welsh trainers are ever becoming an increasingly potent force at the major meetings, but let's not forget John Flint and Robert Stephens.

They don't have the numbers in training of their counterparts but succeed when the heat is turned up.

Rhys Flint, whose season was eventually maligned by injury, drove his father's Kayf Moss to their biggest win in Fontwell's National Spirit Hurdle.

In making it three wins on the bounce and rising over 30lb in other handicap, their stable star stuck on bravely after setting off in his customary front running style.

"I think of him as a future Welsh National type horse," said Flint.

Stephens, who only started out in the summer, won in the Cheltenham mud with Modus before Tom O'Brien had him positioned too wide back there at the Festival.

The fledging trainer believes with a proper run he would have been in contention and like Court Minstrel, he may switch codes to the Flat later this summer, a discipline he nearly began his career doing at Roger Charlton's.

“It was very special winning a Listed race with him,” said Stephens, “At the Festival it wasn’t Tom’s fault and then at Aintree it was possibly a race too many and he was a bit keen.

“He’s at the stud in Chepstow (where he was born) at the moment on his holidays and I’m thinking about finding a maiden Flat race for him later in the year. He has the option to go jumping too next season, but he’s not schooled yet,” said Stephens, who began with three in his string when he began training in the Summer.

He now has 13 and nominates Picodean as his horse to follow over obstacles.

SATURDAY EACH-WAY TREBLE: Newmarket 2.40 Rocky Ground, 3.50 Toormore, Uttoxeter 5.05 Presentings Return

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree