The Hadwins Motor Group Mares Hurdle Series
Dianne Sayer became the third trainer to land the £1,000 bonus attached to the five-race Hadwins Motor Group Mares Only Series when she clinched the prize on Saturday without even having a runner.
After the drama last season when Stuart Crawford landed the bonus prize by a single point from Iain Jardine, it was much plainer sailing for Mrs Sayer, who has an unassailable lead thanks to having saddled a winner, a second and a third in previous rounds.
Donald McCain would have taken over at the top at the July meeting when he saddled hot favourite Secret Escape in the fourth race of the series, but she could never get in a telling blow at the runaway winner Hermanus and, in the end, was all out to take third place.
That did cut Mrs Sayer’s lead to just four points, but as McCain did not have a runner in the final leg of the competition he was left adrift..
The same was true of Nick Alexander, Micky Hammond and Stef Keniry who were all within striking distance on 12 points, meaning a winner could have taken them to the top of the table, but none of them have runners in the final round.
With points awarded on the basis of 12 for a winner, six for second, three for third and two for any other runner, it was impossible for any of the trainers with runners on Saturday to catch Mrs Sayer, though James Moffatt, who sent out winner Bon Chic did move into third place overall.
The final table is:-
Cartmel Jockeys Challenge in association with The Swan Hotel & Spa, Newby Bridge
For the fourth time in five years Brian Hughes has won the Cartmel Jockeys Challenge, sponsored by the Swan Hotel and Spa Newby Bridge and in the end he did it in a canter.
After riding only one winner in the first four days of Cartmel’s season, Hughes was virtually unstoppable in the second half of the campaign with a three-timer at the second stage of the music showcase meeting, topped by a four-timer on the second day of the Barbecue meeting.
With plenty of placed horses as well, Hughes finished the campaign with a colossal haul of 59 points, more than double the score of his nearest challenger Sean Bowen, a staggering total when considering where he was at the half-way stage.
More importantly to Hughes, who now wins a luxury weekend break for two at the Swan Hotel and Spa, which nestles on the southern tip of Lake Windermere, his winning haul was a personal best 11 for the season, beating last season’s tally of 10.
The leading jumps jockey in the North, Hughes rides Cartmel exceedingly well and has now clocked up an impressive 34 winners in the last nine seasons of racing at the track.
Sean Bowen doubled his previous best haul of three winners, but was still well behind Hughes in the final analysis. Even so, six winners this year is a great score and he finished clear second with 27 points overall.
Although she has slipped to third place with 17 points, amateur Becky Smith made a real fist of her challenge for the title and her tally is unprecedented for an amateur. Her achievement has been recognised by the Swan, who have invited her to have dinner for two at the hotel.
The full final table is:-
Cartmel Trainers Challenge, a trophy and a trip to Champagne
Donald McCain is Cartmel’s top trainer for a fifth time since the introduction of the Trainers Challenge in 2011.
After winning the title for the first four years in a row, the Cheshire handler has had to defer to Cartmel’s local trainer James Moffatt, who collected the Andrea Robinson Memorial Trophy in each of the last three seasons.
McCain has not had an easy ride to win the Challenge, which not only carries the Trophy for a year, but also a Lawn Jockey painted in the winner’s preferred colours, presented in aid of Jack Berry House, but this year it also lands McCain a fabulous trip for two to the cellars of Cartmel’s champagne partner Louis Roederer in Champagne*.
After Middleham’s Micky Hammond made the early running in this year’s competition, McCain managed to get his nose in front after the second day of the June meeting and has never looked back, stretching his lead with a hat-trick at the second stage of the Barbecue Meeting in July.
Even so, it was touch and go to the end, with Peter Bowen, whose consistency took him into second place, threw the kitchen sink at the final day in an attempt to snatch the prize, but McCain matched him winner for winner on the Bank Holiday Monday to preserve his lead.
So McCain finishes with an impressive haul of 49 points, 10 clear of Bowen in the end although the Welsh trainer did manage one more winner this season than the champion with 10 winners to McCain’s nine.
Hammond held on to third place, even though his challenge fell away over the last couple of meetings with defending champion Moffatt, who had suffered in the early part of the season when his horses weren’t firing, coming through with a late charge to be fourth.
*Terms and conditions apply.
The Margaret Sexton Memorial Trophy for outstanding achievement of the Year
The Bowen family of trainer Peter, his wife Karen and sons Mickey, Sean and James are the final nominees for this year’s Margaret Sexton Trophy, which is awarded for outstanding achievement or a moment of brilliance at Cartmel each season.
The Bowens were out in force on the last day of the season, despite the distance from Peter’s yard near Haverfordwest in West Wales to Cartmel as they made a bold bid to win the Cartmel Trainers Challenge.
Backed by a strong posse of owners, Peter and Sean teamed up to complete a double on the day and though it was not enough to peg back Donald McCain in the Challenge, it was still pretty heart-warming to see the whole team working together to try and bridge the gap.
Throughout 2018 Peter Bowen has been a consistent winner and has won more races this year than any other trainer at Cartmel, but he would be first to acknowledge that the support he receives from Karen and Mickey on the training front and his two rising star jockey sons Sean and James is invaluable.
The Bowednfamily now join Lucy Alexander, Simon Waugh, Alan Hill, Ben Greensdale, the Bambi Du Noyer team of trainer John Hodge and jockey Grant Cockburn, Jo Hughes, Brian Hughes and the owners of Xpo Universel Sarah Fawcett, Jan Mangles and Peter Steveney on this year’s list.
The overall winner will be chosen from these nine nominees – one for each meeting of the season – with the winner announced on the opening day of the 2019 season when they will receive the Margaret Sexton Trophy for a year plus a cash prize of £500 with a further £250 donated to both St Mary’s Hospice and the British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre in their name.
Previous winners of the Trophy are Maurice Barnes (2014), Keith and Helen Bowron (2015), Henry Brooke (2016) and the Slack/Sayer family in 2017.
How do the Challenges work?
Every jockey who has a ride and every trainer who has a runner at Cartmel is automatically included. The challenges work on a points system with three points for a win, two points for second and one point for third. Come the last race meeting of the season and the Jockey with most points after the last race is crowned champion and receives a luxury weekend break for two at the Swan Hotel & Spa. The top Trainer receives the Andrea Robinson Memorial Trophy.
Results will be kept up to date in each racecard and on a notice board outside the weighing room and on the website.
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