Marton trainer Tom Ellis breaks record number of winners in a season

By Russell Smith

(From left) Marton trainer Tom Ellis celebrates after winning the Restricted Race with Arctic Oscar, with Lenny Owen (owner), Martha Reeve (groom) and Gina Andrews (jockey). PICTURE BY HATTIE AUSTIN www.hattieaustinsportphotographer.com
(From left) Marton trainer Tom Ellis celebrates after winning the Restricted Race with Arctic Oscar, with Lenny Owen (owner), Martha Reeve (groom) and Gina Andrews (jockey). PICTURE BY HATTIE AUSTIN www.hattieaustinsportphotographer.com

Tom Ellis admitted it would take a while to sink in after breaking the record for the number of winners by a trainer in a season with a double at the Kimblewick Hunt meeting at Kimble, Buckinghamshire forming part of an across-the-card four-timer.

The champion trainer, who is based at Marton, went into Easter Saturday on 48 winners for the campaign - three adrift of Jack Barber's total of 51 in 2014-15.

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Precious Bounty added to his tally under Ellie Callwood at Dingley, before Fumet d'Oudairies brought up his half-century in the Waverton Ladies Open at Kimble with Ellis's wife, Gina Andrews, on board.

Then Arctic Oscar, with Andrews again in the saddle in the Richardson's Restricted, and Good Boy, in the hands of Murray Dodd, at Sandon flashed post the post within seconds of each other to take the champion trainer to the record and 200 career point-to-point winners.

After Arctic Oscar returned to a noisy reception, Ellis, who just a week earlier had saddled Latenightpass to win the Aintree Foxhunters, said: "I don't know which was the record-breaker and which was the record-equaller.

"We have had a whirlwind of a week with Aintree. It will take a while for it to dawn on us what has happened. It's not sunk in yet.

"Two milestones is amazing really. It is not a position I ever imagined myself to be in at an early stage of my career. I have only been doing this for six seasons with Gina."

Reflecting on their success, he added: "We've got a really good bunch of horses and more importantly an even better bunch of staff, and our owners are also exceptionally supportive. It wouldn't be possible without all of them."

Fumet d'Oudairies showed no ill effects from being pulled up at the Cheltenham Festival. Challenged by No Hassle Hoff going down the back straight, the seven-year-old shrugged off Kate Gowing's mount going to the second-last and bounded clear to win by eight lengths, with Back Bar 25 lengths back in third.

The gelding is owned by the D'oudes Partnership headed by Mickey Wills, and Ellis said: "It's nice to get him back to winning ways after Cheltenham. It was probably a year too soon for him, but we had nothing to lose and thought we would give it a go. The ladies' final at Stratford would be his main aim."

Arctic Oscar came home in splendid isolation in the restricted. Andrews sent the Lenny Owen-owned six-year-old mare into the lead going down the back straight on the last circuit with the four-runner field reduced to two when Idee De Garde and Call His Bluff exited at the sixth-last. Calvic chased Andrew's mount, but was a spent force by the last fence where he was pulled up.

Ellis said: "I am so thrilled for Lenny. He is a proper point-to-point enthusiast and owners like that you have to look after. It is great for him living the dream."

Owen lives at Towcester, but was originally from nearby Saunderton, and he said: "I have followed Tom through his career. They are a fantastic couple. They are the best - simple as that. It means a lot to have a local winner."

Oxfordshire trainer Alan Hill clocked up his 400th winner in point-to-points and hunter chases when Normofthenorth took the opening Oriental Club Dine At Home Eight-year-olds and over Countryside Alliance Club Members Conditions Race (Level 3).

Izzie Marshall made all the running on the eight-year-old, who stormed home by 12 lengths from Killinkere and Andrews, sparking a treble for the Aston Rowant handler.

Reflecting on his latest landmark, which was made up of 371 point-to-points and 29 hunter chases, Hill said: "To see all these people here in the sunshine I don't think there is a better platform to do what I have done today.

"I have been very lucky. It's not just the 400 winners. I have had some proper horses with Cheltenham winners. I think I am the winning-most trainer currently training and I am very proud of it."

Normofthenorth is owned by Three Farmers & A Gardener Partnership consisting of Hill, Martin Redman, Maurice Thomas and Neil Allen, and Marshall added: "He is awesome. He bounces off quicker ground. It's very special to be Alan's 400th winner because he is such a prolific trainer."

Hill moved swiftly on to 401 when Da Boy Charlie took the Elliott of London Maiden in good style for Malpas-based owner Guy Myddelton and his jockey-son, Harry.

The eight-year-old battled for the lead with Thunder N Lightnin and Andrews for much of the way before stretching clear going to the second-last to score by eight lengths.

Da Boy Charlie was bought out of Pat Crowley's yard in Ireland by Dan Astbury for the Myddeltons, whose four horses with Hill have all won this season following the triumphs of Highland Glory, Polydora and Scorpion Lady.

Oxford Brookes University student Harry said: "He feels a completely different horse to the start of the season. He was pulling my arms out all the way."

Hill completed his treble when Sir Mangan made all the running in the Alan Fantham Memorial Kimblewick Hunt Members, Subscribers & Farmers Race.

Racing enthusiastically under Ben Sutton in his father Nick's colours, the 14-year-old winged the last fence to stroll home by 25 lengths from Skipthecuddles and Phil York.

Hill, who was winning the hunt race here for a ninth time, said: "He is three from three round this course and I think it's made for him. Nick and Ben are lucky to have him, and he will be hard to replace."

There was a family link to the record-breaking Ellis and Andrews' combination in the Warehouse Reit Men's Open with Gina's mother, Joanna, saddling Longhouse Sale to take the 2m 4f contest with Charlie Marshall on board.

Jack Hutsby having his first ride on Zamani led down the back straight, but Longhouse Sale regained the advantage by the second-last and strode away to win by eight lengths, with Majestic Touch half-a-length back in third.

Andrews, who trains at Lilley, near Luton, bought the eight-year-old - a 10-time winner under rules - out of Dan Skelton's yard for owner Sue Howland Jackson, from Great Cornard, near Sudbury.

Her late husband, Anthony, enjoyed notable success with St Gregory, who secured the 1998 Grand Marnier Trophy as the national leading point-to-point horse.

Joanna's husband, Simon, was officially listed as the trainer, but explained that he just "entered it and declared it". She said: "It is lovely to have a winner with Sue because her husband had good horses in his time."

The winning owner added: "I was trying to stay calm, but it's very exciting. It's his fourth run for us and Joanna does brilliantly."

Hutsby, 16, was awarded the 'Silver Fox' to mark his pointing debut, with the trophy presented in memory of the late meeting secretary Wendy Wood.

Tim Underwood sent out Cheltenham Mati from his Beedon yard, near Newbury, to follow up last Sunday's Penshurst win in the Hildreth's Garden Centre PPORA Club Members Conditions Race (Level 3) for Novice Riders.

Beau Morgan, who is based with Ben Pauling, took up the running on the 10-year-old mare from Craigmor going to the second-last only for James Hayward's mount to renew his challenge at the final fence.

The pair battled up the run-in with Cheltenham Mati prevailing by half a length, and Bawnmore 10 lengths back in third.

Underwood said: "She is as genuine as they come. She has hardly ever been out of the first three. I rode her work on Thursday and thought if she was perky, she will run."