The Point-to-Point Authority is delighted to announce INEOS Automotive as the new title sponsor of its Mixed Open Series, which will get underway in November 2021.
The three-year national partnership coincides with the launch of the widely anticipated INEOS Grenadier 4X4 in July 2022. The British-designed, rugged and uncompromising off-roader is being built to meet the extreme demands of its customers. Perfect for towing a horsebox and tackling challenging terrain, the highly capable vehicle is an ideal fit for a countryside-based sport with strong ties to Britain's farming and rural communities.
Gary Pearson, Head of UK and MENA at INEOS Automotive, said: "The desire to build a vehicle with the versatility to meet the needs of those who live, work and play in the countryside has been at the forefront of our ambitions since the early development stages of the Grenadier. Engineered to be a capable and reliable workhorse, it’s fitting that the Grenadier will be forming such strong ties with the Point-to-Point Authority, not only to provide financial support for the sport, but to also build stronger relationships with a community this vehicle has been designed for.”
Peter Wright, Chief Executive of the Point-to-Point Authority, added: "This is a very welcome new national partnership, focusing on a series of mixed open races leading to a valuable final and involving some of our leading horses. The Grenadier 4X4 is a perfect fit for point-to-pointing and the wider countryside community."
INEOS Automotive will be sponsoring 16 mixed open point-to-point races at venues from Scotland to Cornwall, and West Wales to East Anglia, with each race worth £1,000 in prize money. The first four horses from each INEOS Grenadier Mixed Open race, plus the first two from any other mixed open contest, will qualify for the £10,000 INEOS Grenadier Mixed Open Hunters' Chase final, to be run at Cheltenham on Friday, May 6.
Somerset-based Will Biddick, who trains Britain's top-rated hunter chaser Porlock Bay, said: "Our first aim is to get Porlock to the Cheltenham Festival, but he had a light campaign last season, and a race like the INEOS Grenadier Mixed Open Hunters' Chase in May could well become the next target. It's good to have a decent pot to aim at, and it's marvellous that such a big company is supporting the grass roots of horse racing."
Shropshire trainer Philip Rowley, who has won Cheltenham's Mixed Open Hunters' Chase three times, said: "Most sports need a bit of a lift after disruptions caused by Covid, and for a company like INEOS to come in is great news. I'm hoping we have a horse good enough to run in the final and Salvatore might be the one. His owners are point-to-point people through and through, and he's a horse who wants a bit of decent ground, which we should get at Cheltenham in May."
Pam Sly is enjoying a red hot streak of form presently, the latest indication of which is a winner in today's conditional jockeys handicap hurdle at Huntingdon with Takeit Easy, ridden by Paul O'Brien.
Takeit Easy was one of just four individual winners for the yard last season, in which Eileendover had the sages talking of the Champion Bumper briefly. The six year old has enjoyed a good summer, winning at Ludlow in late May, and just missing out at Stratford the following month, both when ridden by Gina Andrews.
But when a yard runs into form, sometimes even the most surprising horses will win. And by anyone's standards, Pam Sly is in red hot form right now with four winners from six runners in the past fortnight. Winners at Pontefract, Leicester and Yarmouth may not raise the pulse of TV Viewers looking for clues to this weekend's Qipco Champions Day, but they advertise the claims of this much understated senior trainer in Newmarket.
Also this week, Sarah Humphrey continued her reacquaintance with winner's enclosures around the country. Last month, we reported on Railway Muice providing a first winner in more than 700 days, and on Tuesday, the same 8 year old gelding continued his streak of form with a third winner in the racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle at Huntingdon's second fixture. Making all under Nick Scholfield, he went clear at the second last and maintained a 2l advantage over the runner-up from the vaunted yard of Jackdaws Castle.
The A14 is an infamous road that has held up many a racegoer, jockey or trainer en route across the Midlands, and so it was as I made my way yesterday from Gloucestershire to Norwich. A crowded highway thins out beyond Newmarket en route through the picturesque Thetford Forest, a horse I well remember winning a Sun Alliance Hurdle trial staged at Warwick's mid February day back in 1992 before following up in the middle distance novices' championship now known as the Ballymore the next month for Oliver Sherwood.
The reason I mention this ghastly road is that I was sorely tempted to abort my mission and stop off at Huntingdon for their opening fixture of the autumn. Road improvements sadly mean the A14 no longer passes within view of the racecourse that I first visited in 1987, but spectators will likely appreciate that all the more. It never failed to quicken my pulse en passant.
East Anglian trainer Sarah Humphrey was prominent among the winners, when winner Railway Muice, who we touted for further honours only last month after his victory at Market Rasen plugged a lengthy winnerless gap for the trainer. The eight year old, still owned by his trainer, will surely have a new name in the owner column after once again hitting the sweet spot in the Clive Graham Memorial Novices Handicap Chase, by a winning margin of 2 1/4l that would have been more had the race carried on someway further. The Humphrey yard is evidently running into some sort of form.
I might be an old grump, or a bit long in the tooth, but this seemed a particularly poor contest to attribute to one of racing's great race callers. Old Etonian Graham partnered the peerless Peter O'Sullevan as paddock commentator on BBC TV for 25 years until his death in 1974. Some of you may even remember when the BBC covered horseracing!
The concluding race of the day saw a familiar face in unfamiliar circumstances as Archie Watson, winner of nearly 450 of Flat racing's finest contests worth nearly £4.5m over the past five years, tried his hand in the Jumps game. The gelded Alazwar, a Hannon cast-off, ran out a comfortable winner of an 11 runner bumper to set some hares running for next year's Champion Bumper.
Is Alazwar catching pigeons on the Lambourn downland? Let the bush telegraph do its work!
Meantime, it's welcome back Huntingdon. We've missed you.
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