Racing: Hunt is over for new chasing idol

WHILE the hunting horses were vaulting shrubbery and swerving placards on Boxing Day, one of their former number was himself parading the message for country animals in the big city.

It is a salutary thought that Teeton Mill, the King George VI Chase winner at Kempton, would still be pootling around rural England had he not been a speculative purchase for a tipping company.

Stephen Winstanley, of The Winning Line, laid out pounds 40,000 for the grey, largely due to the horse's record of excellence in the pointing field. Caroline Bailey, his previous trainer, was happy to let Teeton Mill go as the horse's medical book is as thick as a milkman's ledger. "We decided that the offer was good and it was the right time to sell," she says. "Nobody else would have bought him with his legs like that."

Without that transaction, Teeton Mill would still be in livery in Northamptonshire at Spratton ("the farm protected by the ridge"), and handing out horrible beatings to whatever crossed him in the pointing field. "Hunting was his life before he left here and he'd still be doing it if he was still around," Bailey says. "We always liked him, but obviously we didn't realise he was going to be as good as he showed at Kempton. We would probably have run him in the Cheltenham Foxhunters."

This was so nearly the equivalent of Ronaldo playing out his whole career on the Hackney Marshes.

The most startling of Teeton Mill's attributes is his jumping, and it is probably true that it is easier to leap without the Pytchley hounds yapping at your feet and getting in the way. The grey now seems to effect the precision landings of an Indian fakir lowering himself on to a bed of nails, yet in the old days he was a bit of a duffer. There were two falls and an unseated in his first four outings.

"He was very weak as a youngster, but the family do get better with age so we were happy to leave him alone," Bailey says. "We didn't over-race him or risk him on the firm, because we got a warning with his legs, and the rewards of that policy are showing now.

"When he did start, he was unlucky. They were both very unfortunate falls because he slipped on landing." Then, one day, he carried Trevor Marks to victory at Guilsborough and a sequence had begun.

As he progressed, Teeton Mill hunted his way over disused rails, hedgerows and whatever else Mother Nature could construct. He become most proficient. "When he was hunting, he used to come up against all sorts of obstacles and I'm sure that helped his jumping," Bailey says. "Hunting helps to bring your legs up. He was always very neat when he got in close.

"It's a good schooling ground and I think the top hunters like Spartan Missile, Grittar and now this horse have shown the best can hold their own. If you can get to one of the best pointing horses, they are probably in the top 10 to 15 three-mile chasers in the country."

Indeed, for those who think of pointing as little more than sloe gins being passed between the country set then there may have to be a reappraisal. As well as Teeton Mill, this equine division has also produced Cool Dawn, Coome Hill and See More Business in recent years.

It is estimated that between 250 and 300 horses which ran in points last season will run in jumps races under Rules this campaign and the trend seems to be growing.

The Irish point-to-point scene used to be the sport which took place to the humming sound of British owners flicking through a cheque book and a similar noise has been heard on France's racecourses in recent years. It may have been that the purchasers were ignoring comparable produce at their local corner shop. Certainly Teeton Mill's achievements will now raise the stakes for pointers on this island.

"Ours is a competitive game these days and people who think all we are running are slow, old hunters will have to acknowledge that those times have gone," Bailey says. "We have always been offended when owners paid such a lot of money for horses from the Irish point-to-points, but now we are delighted. I hope they all come and buy some more. We may have ruined things for the purchasers but certainly not for the vendors."

Teeton Mill is well on his way to becoming one of the most popular horses ever as he has short-changed no-one. He has made money for his breeder, Janet Hayward, Bailey and Winstanley, as well as the many punters who like his style. It could also be that his story will enrich a whole section of the horse racing sport.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
people
News
20. Larry Page: Net worth: $23 billion; Country: U.S; Source of wealth: Google
business
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
A collection of 30 Banksy prints at Bonhams auction house in London
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness