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Andrews on hand to launch Anglo-Irish Challenge

Andrews on hand to launch Anglo-Irish Challenge

Gina Andrews has set her sights on helping Great Britain to a fifth straight win in the Bicester Office Park Anglo-Irish Point-to-Point Challenge at Kingston Blount in Oxfordshire on Friday, May 26.

The three-time ladies' champion boasts the best record of any male or female rider in the four-year history of the jockeys' competition with three winners.

And now the 25-year-old, who is on course for a fourth national title, is eager to shine once more for Britain, who take on an Irish team, which includes pointing greats Derek O'Connor and Jamie Codd.

Speaking at a media morning at Alan Hill's Aston Rowant stables yesterday (May 10), she said: "We will give it our best shot. We have beaten them every time so far, so we will have another good go.

"I look forward to it each year. It is something different and we get to ride against the best Irish riders as well."

Andrews, whose sparkling season has included a five-timer at Mollington and a Cheltenham Festival winner on Domesday Book, admits that a change to an open draw for the horses rather than one where the riders got to choose their mounts on ranking could make it tougher for her.

"I think probably because I have been the leading rider each year I have got to ride the highest-rated horses in the race, which has made my life easier," she said reflecting on past triumphs on Connemara Kate, Thoonavolla and Bye Bye O Bye.

Andrews has enjoyed plenty of winners at Kingston Blount, though, and she believes that riding on their home patch is an advantage for the British team.

"I have had a lot of success there," she added. "You do need to know your way round because it is not the easiest to ride."

Andrews was joined in a schooling session at Woodway Farm by British teammate Tabitha Worsley, who is a newcomer to the challenge.

"It's very exciting," said the 22-year-old Birmingham University student of her selection. "At the beginning of the season I didn't even dream that it would happen especially as I missed the first seven weeks with concussion following a fall at Fontwell.

"As a team we want to win it and get as many points as we can and beat the Irish. A winner on top of that would be even better."

Also riding out was Victoria Pendleton, who is set to be a paddock presenter along with her ITV Racing colleague, Luke Harvey, and Sky Sports News's Alex Hammond.

"It should be great fun and a great spectacle," said Pendleton.

"Point-to-point racing in Ireland is massive, so we are going to see some very well-known jockeys coming over."

Hill is hoping that owners and trainers will support the fixture.

"The most important thing is we get the runners," he said. "We have two full teams of top riders and if we combine that with the runners, the crowd will come for the betting, the beer, the family picnic or to listen to the music."

Kingston Blount officials pride themselves on providing good ground, and clerk of the course Stewart Nash added: "If the heavens don't open then we will have to do some watering.

"We would like to think we would get 5,000-6,000 on the day."

 

HOW THEY LINE-UP

Great Britain – men: Will Biddick, John Dawson, Alex Edwards, Evan David; ladies: Gina Andrews, Bryony Frost, Claire Hardwick, Tabitha Worsley.

Ireland – men: Barry O'Neill, Jamie Codd, Derek O'Connor, Noel McParlan; ladies: Shauna Larkin, Lisa O'Neill, Liz Lalor, Maxine O'Sullivan.

 

 

BICESTER OFFICE PARK ANGLO-IRISH CHALLENGE RACE PROGRAMME

Friday, May 26, 2017

4.00 Betfair Men's Open

4.35 Goffs UK Anglo-Irish Club Members Conditions Race for Gentlemen Riders

5.10 Bicester Office Park Anglo-Irish Ladies Open

5.45 Tattersalls Ireland Anglo-Irish Four, Five & Six-Year-Olds Maiden Race for Gentlemen Riders

6.20 Connolly's Red Mills Anglo-Irish Intermediate Race for Lady Riders

7.05 The Kingston Blount Racing Club Members Conditions Race for Novice Riders

 

Image: Neale Blackburn.

 


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