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RACING: Hill's on an upward curve
With her burgeoning string, Aston Rowant trainer Lawney Hill is looking to build on her growing reputation for saddling National Hunt winners.
Now in her eighth season with a full licence, Hill’s career has moved up a gear over the past three campaigns with tallies of 18, 26 and 23 winners.
Already she has seven winners on the board this term, including more importantly her biggest success to date with I Have Dreamed’s thrilling victory in the Betfred Summer Plate at Market Rasen in July.
A busy weekend of open days at her Woodway Farm stables nestled near the foot of the Chilterns showcased her horses and the successful point-to-point string run by her husband, Alan.
Hill welcomed around 120 visitors to her first public open day on Saturday, and a similar number to her sixth annual owners’ open day 24 hours later.
Speaking while I Have Dreamed paraded in the smart rug bearing the race’s title sponsor at the latter event, she said: “That was the most valuable race we have won here – it was worth £50,000.
“We are delighted to have a horse of this calibre in the yard, and very delighted to have won such a big race with him.”
And, not one to do things by half measures, Hill celebrated in style the same day by hosting a pop festival for neighbouring Aston Rowant Cricket Club.
Big plans are in the pipeline for Minella Theatre, who is to be aimed at the Becher Chase at Aintree on Saturday, December 8, with a return trip to the Merseyside venue for the John Smith’s Grand National in April his long-term target.
“Hopefully he will get in and it will be a great thrill for a yard like ours to have a runner in the Grand National,” added Hill.
Aintree’s big race could also be on the cards in future seasons for Cap Elorn, a promising fifth on his debut over fences at Worcester recently.
“He jumps beautifully and is a name to watch out for,” said the trainer.
Hill also has high hopes for Come On Laurie, an impressive winner of his only start in a Plumpton bumper under David Bass, who rides many of her charges.
“This is a lovely horse, who will probably have one run or maybe two in bumpers and then go hurdling,” she said. “He is very athletic and a horse with a future.”
Miss Mayfair and Easter Dancer, a newcomer from Emma Lavelle’s yard, are two mares whom Hill believes are worth making a note of.
Also among the 27 horses she paraded who should be making their mark this season were Giant O Murchu, Frontier Dancer, Double Handful, Aghill and Baily Storm.
Meanwhile, Alan Hill had a point-to-point season to remember, missing out on being the leading owner on countback of seconds following a three-way tie.
His red and yellow colours were carried to victory 14 times, with Ravethebrave posting four wins.
One of ten horses Hill paraded, the eight-year-old also played a major part in his son, Joe, winning two national titles in his first season in the saddle.
The 16-year-old captured the Wilkinson Sword prize for the leading novice rider aged under 21 without a winner at the start of the season.
And he also shared the men’s novice title with Harry Bannister.
Alan Hill said of Ravethebrave: “He has been an absolute superstar both to my stable, and to my family."
Mid Div And Creep, who was second in the 2011 Christie’s Foxhunter Chase, Dante’s Storm, Start Royal and Description were other big players on show.
And Hill nominated Fitobust as his ‘milk bottle horse’ – the one to play up the autumn’s weekly savings on when he makes his seasonal debut.