BAREL of Laughs added his name to the Worcestershire Point-to-Point roll of honours by taking the prestigious Lady Dudley Cup at Chaddesley Corbett on Saturday.
Having finished a close third in the Cheltenham Foxhunters, Barel of Laughs started a short priced favourite for the centrepiece of the Worcestershire meeting and did not let his supporters down.
Templebraden and Iberico set the pace but the former started to feel the pace at halfway, whereas Barel of Laughs began to make his bid for glory.
The pace quickened significantly down the back straight with Iberico and Barel of Laughs throwing down the gauntlet to their rivals over this line of fences.
Gillon Crow moved the 2015 Dudley Cup winner What a Laugh into third, but the two leaders had opened up a significant advantage as they started up the final hill.
Jockey Alex Edwards had seen off Iberico’s challenge as they turned downhill towards the finish where What a Laugh and Iberico were both in vain pursuit.
The runner-up closed briefly in the home straight while Iberico lost any chance of retaining second by making a juddering mistake at the penultimate which resulted in Sam Jukes losing an iron.
This was Bridgnorth trainer Phil Rowley’s second success in the race following Sybarite’s victory in 2013.
Jockey Edwards said: “He has got plenty of ability but he is not one of those horses that will win by 20-lengths.
“He will only just do enough.”
This win was the middle leg of a treble for the 26-year-old jockey which started when he’d partnered Old Pride to victory in the Confined.
After battling with his rider for the first circuit the nine-year-old eventually settled down and the pace increased significantly when Chasforgold moved up to threateningly along the back straight and they began to draw clear of the remaining runners.
Turning back towards home it was obvious the winner was going better than his rival.
The final leg of the Edwards treble and the second half of a Diana Ralph double was completed by Henry Howard in the three-mile Maiden.
He was one of the most experienced horses in the field and that showed with some of his rivals were making mistakes at crucial times of the race.
Up your Game’s front running tactics failed to take the runners out of their comfort zone and he was quickly passed by his opponents half a mile from home.
Festival Dawn looked a big danger when she joined the leaders three out but she made a mistake and lost several lengths.
Henry Howard turned for home with a clear lead and although Festival Dawn challenged again between the final two fences this was swiftly swept aside and the winner stayed on strongly to record his first success at nine years of age.
It has been proved many times in the past there is no need for a lot of runners to offer an exciting race and that proved to be the case in the Members.
Just three runners faced the starter with Abi Banks aboard Cut the Corner, her sister Phine was riding Well Mett while 62-year-old Rob Sealey completed the line up on Grove Field.
Well Mett started favourite but his backers must have feared the worst as he struggled to stay in touch throughout the second circuit.
He must have been 12-lengths behind at one point but gradually began to make some inroads into the leader’s advantage but was still a good four-lengths down at the last.
Cut the Corner and Grove Field were inseparable at this point but the former pecked on landing, dropped his shoulder and although Miss Banks made a vain attempt to maintain her equilibrium, gravity took over and she ended up on the floor.
While this was happening Well Mett caught and passed Grove Field on the flat to win by a length and a half.
Angela and William Rucker’s Megabucks has been disappointing this season but the six-year-old scored an impressive win under Zac Baker in the Restricted.
Megabucks and Keen Eye – who was making a welcome return to the course after two years absence – dominated the race from the start while the favourite Following Mama was always struggling to make an impact.
The Rucker runner got the better of Keen Eye by the 15th where Belton Red Fox looked dangerous and Following Mama was looking one paced.
Zac Baker kept Megabucks up to his work and they held a six length advantage over their rivals on the home turn and came home unchallenged.
The five-year-old and over Maiden proved a tactical battle.
Abi Banks and Round Robin were reluctant leaders and with an almost funereal pace it was no wonder both horses did not jump fluently.
The order remained unchanged until James King pressed the boost button on Freaky Freda approaching the third from home.
He got an immediate response with the favourite putting clear water between herself and her rival between the final two fences.
Freaky Freda became excess to requirements for her previous connections so when Mark and Axelle Wall were alerted to this situation they passed this information onto Kevin and Andrea Malpass who have gained a useful Maiden.
The Ladies Open failed to produce a West Midland Area Trained winner with Pentiffic defying his advancing years.
Given a patient ride by Lucy May Turner Pentiffic went into a clear lead meeting the rising ground and turned for home with the race in their pocket.