‘Don’t ask me, ask him!’
That was the stupefied reaction of trainer Caroline Fryer after remarkable Riddlestown (15/8 jt-fav) had come up trumps once more at Towcester on Monday evening.
A quick return to Northamptonshire could be on the cards for the quirky but talented 10-year-old by the sire Cloudings after he notched a fourth straight win, and a second in 11 days.
Fryer’s charismatic star came storming up the hill in the 3m handicap chase to defeat Better Days by four and a half lengths and leave the obvious conclusion he will bid for a five timer back at the track next Monday afternoon when Towcester stages its final jumping fixture until October 11.
Riddlestown is now the winner of 13 races, and while seven of them have come at Southwell, four victories at Towcester mean the gap is closing.
While it is not unusual for a horse to have a racecourse preference, Riddlestown defies logic as Southwell and Towcester are poles apart in their geography, the former being a flat left handed track while the latter is infamous for steep gradients and running the other way round.
Fryer said: “If we go anywhere other than Southwell or Towcester he just makes a fool of me. We took him to Huntingdon and he hated it. For whatever reason, he is in the form of his life. I haven’t done anything different.”
Less than three months ago Fryer was quietly cursing after Riddlestown stayed on late to snatch third in a chase at Towcester behind General Girling, leaving the impression he could have stepped up gears much sooner had he chosen. Four runs and four wins later it is quite a different story.
Fryer saddled a double on the night as Goodnight Charlie (2/1), a course winner in March, took the 2m 3f amateur riders’ handicap hurdle under Sam Davies-Thomas while Riddlestown’s victory formed the first half of a double for jockey Jack Andrews who went on to land the hunters’ chase on board Abbeyview (6/1) for Shrewsbury trainer Sheila Crow.
On the same night his sister Gina rode a winner at Killarney in Ireland.
Meanwhile champion jockey Richard Johnson came to Towcester for three rides but had to wait for the final one to secure a victory, that coming on board the Henry Daly-trained Honest Vic (8/1) in the National Hunt Flat race.
County trainer Ben Case is up and running in the 2017/18 season after Monar Rose (7/2) took the mares’ maiden hurdle at Towcester just two days after Crookstown nudged his Wardington Gate Farm off the blocks for the yard ... just as he had done 12 months ago.
Crookstown’s previous success had been in a chase at Wincanton under Johnson in May last year while on this occasion it was Daryl Jacob handed the job of negotiating the obstacles on Haydock Park’s mixed card. Crookstown has had a few jumping issues but on this occasion set the record straight to score a seventh career victory.
Monar Rose’s victory did leave a muted taste in the mouth as race favourite Seelateralligator, running for the in-form Dan Skelton yard, broke down during the contest.