21 March 2011 Scene & Heard: Fitzwilliam (Milton) - Cottenham
by Carolyn Tanner
There were plenty of excuses for birthday celebrations at Cottenham, where George Greenock, 25 the previous Wednesday, completed a first double on Caveman (Men's Open) and Rockfield (8yo&up Maiden).
Both are owned by his mother, Countess Viv Cathcart, and trained by former men's champion Nibby Bloom, whose birthday it was that day and who would admit to being a couple of years or so older than George.
George was suffering the after-effects of a bout of flu and admitted to having been on box rest all week. Having studied Real Estate Management at university, he is currently looking for a job in property, although naturally it needs to be one which will allow him to fit in his racing commitments!
"Have you got a picture of Jonathan Neesom on your wall so you can throw darts at it?" A colleague refers to the Racing UK pundit who has been less than complimentary about George's riding ability.
The most travelled man at the meeting was surely Mikey Ennis, who had ridden at Fakenham on Friday before driving to Friars Haugh, where he won the Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate on Hold On Julio. It was back to East Anglia for a couple of rides at Cottenham, then a return visit to Kelso to partner Abragante - who, as Mikey suspected, was in need of the race and was pulled up - in the Hunter Chase today (Monday).
"Sarah [Humphrey, for whom Mikey works] is very good about letting me have the time off," he said. "Hopefully I can keep riding a few winners to justify it."
Another pair of long-distance travellers were Trevor and Carrie Marks, stalwarts of the Fitzwilliam for over 50 years. Trevor and Carrie have recently retired from farming and moved to Devon to be near their daughter Amanda Burdon. The previous day they were at Buckfastleigh to see their Aryshvic, trained by Robert Chanin, win the Hunt race.
The Antonia Bealby-trained Always Roses, who was due to carry just ten stone in the Brightwells/PPA 2m4f Maiden, should have been ridden by Matt Stanley, but he was feeling slightly under par following a fall the previous day and opted to stand down.
Matt himself would have been deputising for owner-breeder James Henderson's son George, who sustained a tear in his liver in a fall from the filly at North Carlton, so Hugh McKenna, who like Matt works for Antonia's husband Chris, was handed the ride.
Hugh made the most of his opportunity, and despite putting up a stone overweight he brought Always Roses with a perfectly-timed run to quicken away from the favourite Midnight Ruler on the run-in. It was just a second success for the 22-year-old Irishman, who two years earlier had scored in a match at Hackwood Park, at which time he was based with Charlie Mann.
Arcady, the dam of Always Roses, finished third, beaten less than a length, in the Ascot Handicap at the 1997 Royal meeting. James has more of her offspring waiting in the wings but sadly she died when foaling earlier this year.
Gina Andrews teamed up with trainer John Ibbott to take the Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate with Mountain Emperor and the Restricted with Finnish Melody, the same duo which had obliged at Higham last month. Gina is now seven clear of Sam Drake in her quest for the national ladies' title.
Announcement: "Will Kate Barber bring her colours to the weighing room for Matt Smith? He's now finished signing autographs so is free to take the colours."