Ellis bows out on a high with Anariza at Oakley Hunt point-to-point

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Tom Ellis brought the curtain down in style on his record-breaking point-to-point training career when Anariza gave him a winner with his last runner at the Oakley Hunt meeting at Brafield-on-the-Green, near Northampton.

The five-time champion is set to take out a full trainer's licence with Latenightpass on course to be his first runner under rules in the Randox Grand National at Aintree on April 13 with his wife, Gina Andrews, on board.

And Anariza ensured he went out on a high note between the flags with a smooth success under Jack Andrews in the JRL Group Four and Five Years Old Point-to-Point Flat Race on Sunday.

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Owner-breeder Sarah Faulks's four-year-old filly cruised into the lead in the two-mile contest and when Andrews let out an inch of rein, she shot clear to pass the post eight lengths ahead of Zloty and Dale Peters.

Anariza storms clear under Jack Andrews to land the JRL Group Four and Five Years Old Flat RaceAnariza storms clear under Jack Andrews to land the JRL Group Four and Five Years Old Flat Race
Anariza storms clear under Jack Andrews to land the JRL Group Four and Five Years Old Flat Race

Anariza was Ellis's 293rd point-to-point success, and he said: "That's my last point-to-point winner. It's a tad bit emotional and it's really nice to sign off with a win.

"Pointing has taught me everything I know. I started off riding and progressed into training. I have made a lot of mistakes and learnt a lot from it. I hope it will stand me in good stead for the next chapter.

"Gina will take over the point-to-pointers we have left. My focus is very much on getting Latenightpass ready for Aintree. I am back to school for my last trainer's module and hopefully I will have my licence through by the end of the week.

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"I've had five championships on the trot. I broke the record for the most winners in a season and broke it again the next season. To have a horse like Latenightpass in the greatest race in the world is a small part of a massive fairytale."

Golan Fortune and Toby McCain-Mitchell clear the last fence to make a winning comebackGolan Fortune and Toby McCain-Mitchell clear the last fence to make a winning comeback
Golan Fortune and Toby McCain-Mitchell clear the last fence to make a winning comeback

Ellis, who is based at Marton, near Rugby, added of Anariza: "She is a very smart filly. This one is not for sale. This one will go into training. If the ground stayed right, we could go for an Aintree bumper with her in April or the one at Stratford."

The organisers did a terrific job to get the rearranged fixture on following the recent rain, which left the going soft, heavy in places, with 25 runners lining up in the six races.

Barry Denvir produced a fine training performance to record his first winner as Golan Fortune returned from an 871-day absence to land a gamble in the Eight-Year-Olds and Over Conditions Race (Level 3), sponsored by Lifestyle Gates.

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Formerly smart under rules for Phil Middleton, the 12-year-old was retired after being pulled up with an irregular heartbeat at Stratford in October 2021.

But, after being given to Simon Paynter to go hunting, the gelding went back into training in January with Denvir, who is based at Great Rollright, near Chipping Norton.

Backed down from 3-1 to evens joint favourite in this three-runner affair, Toby McCain-Mitchell's mount showed he retained all his old enthusiasm, taking it up from Touch Tight and Phil York after the fifth last before holding off that rival's renewed challenge to score by four lengths.

Denvir, who hails from Downpatrick and is assistant to Richard Phillips, said: "This race was always the plan with Simon being a master of the Oakley Hunt. He was a very good horse in his day, and we fancied him today even after two years off the track. Good horses train themselves and we are delighted with him.

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"What I am most delighted about, though, is that it is St Patrick's Day. I had flights to go back home, but when this was rescheduled, I cancelled them."

Only two runners went to post for the Oakley Mixed Open, sponsored by Brian Currie (Milton Keynes Ltd), but it produced a thrilling finish with Ragnar Lodbrok getting up in the last stride to pip Master Templar by a short head and repeat last year's success.

Alex Chadwick on the winner tracked Master Templar and Gina Andrews, who still led by a length and a half at the last where Ragnar Lodbrok made a mistake.

But with Chadwick bringing Newmarket trainer Jenny Owen's nine-year-old wide on the run-in, his mount found more to snatch the spoils.

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Ragnar Lodbrok had won at Guilsborough just seven days earlier for The Whiskey & Water Partnership consisting of John Sharp, David Docker, Robin Vestey, Alice Vaughan-Jones and Gerald Bailey, who said: "We were not exactly sure whether that had left a mark, but he has a bit of class. He is no mug, but he always keeps a little bit to himself.

"We might run him at Easter somewhere and then have a go at the Cheltenham hunter chase meeting."

Chadwick, who was recording his 18th winner of the season, said: "He is a very talented monkey. I thought I had won by a head. If I had jumped the last well, I would have won by further."

Newmarket owner-trainer John Wright's patience with Orion D'Aubrelle was rewarded with victory in the PPORA Club Members Conditions Race (Level 3) for Novice Riders, sponsored by Bedfordshire NFU Mutual.

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Running for the first time since picking up a minor tendon injury at Higham last April, the 11-year-old, ridden by Josh Parker, joined Some Operator and Daisy White at the fourth-last before drawing clear for a 10-lengths success.

Wright said: "I got him from Tattersalls for £2000. He had lost his way in Ireland where he had been running in good races and was a 135-rated horse with Willie Mullins before joining Shark Hanlon. I took my time with him, and we have ended back here with a winner."

It was a fourth success for Parker, who works for James Owen. He said: "I went through a wing yesterday, so it's great to get a winner under my belt."

Sawtry trainer-rider Dale Peters believes Cash Or Card has a big future after the Irish import made it two wins from as many starts in this country with an easy success in the three-runner Restricted, sponsored by Hatters.

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Winner of a Sheriff Hutton maiden in January, the six-year-old cantered up alongside Ultra Viers and George Case, before coasting home by 15 lengths.

Peters commented: "I have been waiting for better ground, but it was time to run again, and he was impressive. I think he will be even better on better ground. He has the potential to go to the top if we have a lot of luck on our side."

The gelding is owned by the This That & The Others Partnership made up of Paul and Andrew Walpole, Andrew West and Georgie and Beryl Close, who said: "He jumped like a dream. He is a very special horse. I think he could go a long way."

Owner-trainer Phillippa Taylor was delighted to see Elmdale finally open his account with a runaway triumph in the Oakley Maiden, sponsored by Phipps Henson.

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Revelling in the testing conditions, the 10-year-old grey took up the running under Zac Baker after a circuit and gradually drew clear of his rivals to come home 30 lengths clear of Rockhamton and Patsy Page.

Taylor, who trains at Fringford, near Bicester, said: "We bought him four seasons ago off Nigel Twiston-Davies for my daughter, Phoebe, to ride. She has just had a baby, so Zac rode him."

Baker added: "I couldn't believe I was nearly a fence clear when I looked through my legs. He is no showstopper, but he keeps going."

The meeting was preceded by two pony races with Camilla Froggatt, 11, from Great Rissington, near Stow-on-the-Wold, taking the One Fat Hen 138cm contest by four lengths on Warmwell Lizzie.

Harry Vigors, 14, from Aldbourne, near Marlborough, then claimed the Barton Petroleum 148cm Race aboard 10-lengths winner Miss Millfield.

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