Racing: Hunter punter alliance thrives

Stan Hey sees the new grey idol leave gloom and rivals behind

THEY STARTED in pouring rain, the Hennessy field having commandeered its own private black cloud at the eastern edge of the Berkshire course, but two circuits later Teeton Mill stormed home into a sky lit with winter sunshine, which was as good as any omen could be for the nine-year-old gelding's future prospects for this National Hunt season.

Already two of the main bookmaking institutions, the Tote and the up- for-sale Coral, with Grand National prices of just 10-1 on offer, have beaten a retreat in the face of the grey's elevation to the big time after doing his apprenticeship in hunter chases and point-to-point races.

Indeed Teeton Mill is further evidence of the rich resources to be tapped from the hunting field, given the successes achieved by former colleagues such as last season's Gold Cup winner, Cool Dawn, and the 1996 Hennessy winner Coome Hill, who could not handle top weight in his repeat attempt yesterday.

Nevertheless, Teeton Mill, who ended last season winning the hunters' Holy Grail, the Horse and Hound Cup at Stratford, more than flew the flag for this small but significant sect within the jumping game. Always handily placed throughout a first circuit that burnt off Seven Towers, who had cheekily replaced him as favourite, Teeton Mill eventually found himself going head-to-head with Eudipe, a horse imported from France and given the best professional treatment by the champion trainer, Martin Pipe. Yet six months ago, Teeton Mill was being trained in a small farm-based stable, before an astute bunch of heavy-duty tipsters, The Winning Line, saw his potential.

Whether Teeton Mill imagined he had seen a bushy red tail in the undergrowth ahead of him or not, he shot past Eudipe in the home straight, arriving home to a tumultuous welcome from a crowd that was not all stirrup-cup and chin-hire types, more like urban punters who had known a good thing when they'd seen the weight the horse had been allocated for the race.

Indeed, in many ways the race set a welcome precedent for those inclined to go bookie-bashing, or to Barbados, in the run-up to Christmas. The Winning Line's decision to broaden their range into ownership almost seems like a Marxist attempt to seize the means of production, perhaps seizing the bookmakers' means of reproduction in the process.

So a new force in ownership, teamed with a richly under- exploited strand of racehorse flesh was the emerging theme of the 1998 Hennessy, and this was completed by the confirmation of Venetia Williams' gifts despite her status as a relatively new trainer. Last season she sent out 45 winners at a strike-rate of 29 per cent, and already has 16 winners at the same strike-rate this season. Consistent or what?

And anyone thinking that a woman called Venetia might not be etched with the marks of life's struggle, should think again. In her time Miss Williams has ridden in the Grand National and 10 years ago suffered serious injuries in a fall. She has also done her time as an assistant trainer, to the now retired John Edwards, and has plainly got what it takes to go right to the top. The same team - The Winning Line and Williams - have a former French Flat horse, Stretarez, lined up for a tilt at the Champion Hurdle too, so ante-post punters may like to look at its price tomorrow morning before the firm gets round to tipping their own horse.

One final, and different note, was sounded on Hennessy Day. With Haydock yesterday dedicating one of its races to the late grey god, One Man, Teeton Mill's highly muscled grey torso and large, brave heart looks very likely to be the public's favourite this winter if the success he enjoyed so graphically yesterday can be built on. And who would bet against it now?

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Co-Ordinator - FF&E

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior FF&E Project Co-ordinator is re...

Recruitment Genius: Part Time Carer / Support Worker plus Bank Support

£10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A delightful, 11 year old boy who lives in t...

Recruitment Genius: Office Furniture Installer / Driver

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Furniture Installer /...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - North West - OTE £40k

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor