Jacqueline Coward wins AGA Ladies' Open Point-to-Point Championship in a thrilling final at Cheltenham
Claire Hart wins the AGA Lady Riders' Championship and an AGA Total Control cooker worth almost £10,000
Above: Amicelli (Jacqueline Coward, striped sleeves) leads Billyvoddan (Jane Williams) on the run-in to win the grand final of the AGA Ladies' Open Point-to-Point Championship at Cheltenham on May 2nd.
Below left: A jubilant Jacqueline Coward with groom Jane Farrar.
Below right: Robert Waley-Cohen Chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, Maureen Coleman, AGA Rangemaster Chairman John Coleman, owner Cherry Coward, CEO William McGrath, winning rider Jacqueline Coward. Pictures by John Beasley
Amicelli - who won the Cheltenham Foxhunters in 2008 - returned to the scene of his greatest triumph to capture the AGA Ladies' Open Point-to-Point Championship final under an inspired front-running ride from Jacqueline Coward, just holding on from the fast-finishing Billyvoddan, last year's winner.
The win - bringing with it prize money of £4,679 - means Jacqueline is just one behind current national championship leader, Billyvoddan's partner Jane Williams. After her win, a jubilant Jacqueline said: " "It feels absolutely incredible - I can't believe it! This is the highlight of the year. AGA has changed the face of pointing for girls and it has been amazing."
Had Billyvoddan not jumped badly right over the final fence he may well have got up, but trainer Phillip Rowley was philosophical about the defeat. "Of course I'm disappointed," he said, "but how can you moan about a performance like that?"
Lady Myfanwy, whose trainer Myfanwy Miles was unable to be present as she was attending her sister's funeral, ran her heart out in third, and that placing earned rider Claire Hart enough points to win the AGA Lady Riders' Championship and an AGA Total Control cooker worth almost £10,000 (see below).
AGA Rangemaster Chief Executive William McGrath described the thrilling final as a fitting end to a wonderful season of racing. He said: "AGA has been delighted to be associated with ladies' point-to-point racing throughout 2011/12. We have seen some fantastic races and the final at Cheltenham was a suitably exciting culmination to what has been a great season full of drama. It has been wonderful to meet so many point-to-point fans over the season and our sponsorship has, I think, made a huge difference to this area of the sport."
Amicelli with groom Jane Farrar. Picture by John Beasley
1 Amicelli, owned and trained by Cherry Coward, ridden by Jacqueline Coward. SP 8/1
2 Billyvoddan, owned by Juliet Minton, trained by Phillip Rowley, ridden by Jane Williams. SP 7/2 fav
3 Lady Myfanwy, owned by Paul Miles, trained by Myfanwy Miles, ridden by Claire Hart. SP 4/1
4 Rathcor, ridden by Hannah Lewis
5 Metal Detector, ridden by Sarah Rippon
6 Unowatimeen, ridden by Sam Drake
7 Impact Zone, ridden by Jo Mason
UR Prince Massini, ridden by Charlotte Prichard
PU Upton Springs, ridden by Sarah-Jayne Davies
9 ran. Distances: Neck & 13 lengths. Time: 6min 49sec.
Above: Eventual winner Amicelli (Jacqueline Coward, striped sleeves) leads Impact Zone (Jo Mason, green colours) Billyvoddan (Jane Williams, stars) and Lady Myfanwy (Claire Hart, purple sleeves) on the first circuit of the AGA Ladies' Open Point-to-Point Championship Final.
Below: The winning team and their supporters. All pictures by John Beasley
Above: Claire Hart, winner of the AGA Lady Riders' Championship, receives her AGA Total Control cooker - complete with a remote control app for smartphones - from AGA Rangemaster Chief Executive William McGrath.
Claire Hart delighted with her triumph in the AGA Lady Riders' Championship race to win an AGA Total Control cooker worth £10,000
Riders in the final were also racing to win an AGA Total Control cooker, with seven in contention at the off.
After a season of accumulating points, Jane Williams' runner-up position in the final meant she was on 58 points. But back in third was Claire Hart on Lady Myfanwy and that was enough to give her the same total.
So, after a wonderful season's racing, the two were tied - but Claire came out the overall winner of the AGA Total Control Lady Riders' Championship and landed the fabulous prize by virtue of having ridden more winners in the qualifying races. Claire was elated.
She said: "I feel amazing - this is the best thing I have ever won. I've had a great season and us girls are really going to miss the AGA boys!"
It was an evening of what might have been for Jane Williams, who finished level on points with Claire but lost the coveted AGA because her number of winning qualifiers was less than that of her rival, four against five.
Like all those who rode in the final, though, she had nothing but praise for the generous sponsorship from AGA and their support throughout the season.
"Bring it on again next year!" she laughed.
AGA LADY RIDERS' CHAMPIONSHIP - FINAL POSITIONS
The final standings in the race to win an AGA Total Control cooker worth almost £10,000 are as follows:
For further information contact Jess Shanahan at the AGA press office on 01263 711588 or email email@example.com