Point-to-point: Ireland can take Greenall to record
Saturday 14 June 2008
The new men's champion, Oliver Greenall, needs just one winner on today's final card at Umberleigh to beat the all-time record of 54 set by Ashley Farrant in 2004.
Yorkshire-based Greenall has been staying near Chepstow since riding doubles at Trecoed and Bratton Down last weekend and two of those winners, Quoquille Des Sacart and Crow Spinney, have remained in Wales rather than make the journey back north. The horsebox of trainer David Easterby will pick them up again on the way to Umberleigh today and Greenall will have six to choose from, although only four are likely to run, with the ground being the deciding factor.
His best chance looks to be on North Ireland (3.10) in the men's open as this six-year-old, owned by former bookmaker Bryan Dunn, showed he can handle firm ground when successful at Morden last month.
Although only 20, Greenall is not the youngest champion in modern times as John Bryan was just 19 when he took the title with 32 winners in 1978, but he is the first northern-based one since Major Guy Cunard in 1964. Greenall's father, Lord Daresbury, won the championship three times in the Eighties.
Greenall is not the only likely record-breaker as the ladies' champion, Polly Gundry, who rode her 39th winner of the season last week, needs just one more to equal Polly Curling's 1995 total. Gundry is likely to partner Let's Fly in the ladies' open but he is in the veteran stage and may not trouble Fruitful Citizen (3.45). However, Gundry, who has won the title six times and combines race-riding with running a livery yard and working for a feed company, could equal Curling's record on Wee Fly (4.20) in the intermediate.
The concluding fixture at the North Devon venue has an "end of term" atmosphere, with much alcohol consumed. However, those who intend heading for that well-known hostelry the Rising Sun, opposite Umberleigh bridge, about three miles from the course, be warned – the pub is shut for refurbishment and will not reopen until the end of the month.
* The 2008-09 season starts on Sunday 30 November with the Cambridge University Draghounds at Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, and the Black Forest Lodge Club in Devon.
TODAY'S FINAL FIXTURE: Torrington Farmers at Umberleigh. (First race: 2.00). North Devon. Off the A377 at Chapleton Barton; 5m SE of Barnstaple.
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