Slad trainer Tom George hasn't yet enjoyed the greatest of seasons, but today marked a welcome change of luck for a trainer who can always be relied upon to win at least one decent handicap each year. Espoir de Teillee has been campaigned lightly this season, this being only his second run, but he stuck it out resolutely to win Warwick's feature handicap chase this afternoon, to make Tom's 16th winner of the term.
Back in November, it was easy to assume that the George winner machine was running in its normal well-oiled state with horses like Summerville Boy excelling at Aintree. However, the last 3 months have been sparing, and whilst the reduction in runners can certainly be put down to the wet start to the year, it will require a monumental catch up to put Tom back in his secure top 10 position.
Trends and fashions exist in racing just as much as elsewhere, and this season's golden boy is the likeable Fergal O'Brien, who continued his amazing run of form with an 83rd winner of the season in Volkovka, who justified 13/8 favouritism in the mares novice hurdle at the same course.
Meantime, the Point-to-Point Authority has acted on the news from Monday's government announcement by issuing a fresh fixture list, sadly without Andoversford and any other Cotswold fixture. A total of 54 fixtures will see the season restart on March 29 until the swansong at Umberleigh in early June.
The determination of so many racing folk and volunteers to salvage something from the wreckage of this season is admirable, all the more so as there is little or no prospect of more than breaking even. No spectators will be permitted before May 17, one of the government's staging posts to Covid-free day of June 21.
The pointing flag is left to fly in this area by Maisemore (Mar 30), Chaddesley (Apr 17, May 31) and Shelfield Park, which falls into the slot vacated by Andoversford on April 11. A full list may be viewed here.