The autumn acceleration in the volume and quality of Jumps fixtures is allowing some of Gloucestershire's finest to exert their supremacy.
Hard on the heels of a Grade II winner for Richard Hobson in the Old Roan Chase at AIntree on Sunday, there were doubles on Tuesday for Kim Bailey and Fergal O'Brien in that rarified one mile stretch of country surrounding Andoversford.
In fact, Hobson's winner Riders On The Storm was previously with near neighbour NIgel Twiston-Davies, for whom he'd won the Betfair Ascot Chase two years ago. Written off by the market as 16/1 outsider, the Brian Hughes - ridden gelding held on by a diminishing head from the three years younger Hitman from Ditcheat.
Midweek winners rarely raise a comment beyond the racing channels and Racing Post, sometimes not even then. However, a cross card double for Kim Bailey served as notice that Thorndale Farm's team is coming to hand. A 13/1 double by maiden winner Chiato Classico at Chepstow under stable jockey David Bass and Getaweapon in the mares handicap hurdle at Bangor.
Despite rarely fielding a runner in the Point-to-Point field, Bailey is a huge supporter of the grass roots of the sport. A former Clerk of Course at Andoversford, the affable Bailey has stepped in to support a race at the International fixture at Cocklebarrow on December 11 as part of an overarching effort to encourage Pointing fans to join syndicates at Thorndale. This is an excellent chance to be part of the famous Kim Bailey blog, rather than just reading it!
Three winners in 2 days tell a story of the continuing success story of Fergal O'Brien's Ravensbrook Farm overlooking Withington. Fergal and partner Sally cut their teeth in the Pointing world, and continue to field runners, but the growing success of the yard leaves them a reputation under Rules to maintain. A Jump season would no longer look familiar without O'Brien setting off in ther Trainers' Championship each May like a bullet from a gun.
71 winners to date have already got him halfway to last season's prize money earnings, and this month's tally to date is his best ever October. With Cheltenham's November fixture little more than 2 weeks away, he'll be hoping not to be outfaced by the battalions from Messrs Henderson, Nicholls, Mullins and Elliott.
Meantime, the Point-to-Point season is little more than a week away with Knightwick sharing opening weekend honours with Great Trethew.