'ritish-trained pointer Premier Magic kept the home flag flying last week in retrieving the St James's Place Capital Foxhunter for England, and, as importantly, for an amateur-trained team.
The Foxhunter prize fund has grown so large as to encourage professional trainers to enter horses to the extent that two horses in last week's field were rated 155 - an extraordinary quality of horse for the Festival's amateur championship.
Nevertheless, the true triumph of Bradley Gibbs and Premier Magic is that the horse has been solely qualified for the race through the Point-to-Point field, giving solace to those that stage Open races that you can see the best quality even despite the volume of Irish competition and pot-hunters among the Hunter chases on licensed tracks.
Gibbs opened the season's account in a hot Open race at the Harkaway between Christmas and New Year. Chaddesley has long been associated with good quality Point-to-Point races and the 14 runner field was just reward for perfect under-foot conditions for a 3 1/2l victory over Myth Buster. A repeat exercise at Garthorpe in early February completed the preparation.
Premier Magic came to Cheltenham last March well fancied but didn't get a clear view of his fences and after being hampered at the ninth, pulled up shortly after. This undistinguished run was an aberation in an otherwise unblemished season populated by nothing but victories.
Happily though, punters have short memories, and a majority of the Gold Cup day crowd is gloriously (but also sadly) oblivious of the Point-to-Point scene. In any other race, no sane person would have allowed the sport's leading Pointer and one of its most efficient riders to face the starter at 66/1.
Gibbs gave Premier Magic a textbook ride, from the outer, with plenty of space to see his fences, and the rest is history.
Sadly though, the victory was only witnessed by his father-in-law and owner of premier Magic, Julian Sheriff. His partner was stuck at home unable to find a babysitter. Let's hope he's not superstitious or she'll be minding the baby for every major raceday henceforth.
Premier Magic is unlikely to head to Aintree, but Stratford's Foxhunter looks a distinct possibility on June 2.
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