Tom Ellis is on fire in hunter chases
Tom Ellis is no stranger to success between the flags or indeed under Rules. He and wife Gina are wedded to each other, and the job! From their successful professional Point-to-Point yard near Marton in Warwickshire, they've now trained in excess of 125 winners since the turn of the century.
It's a business formula that's working well, with a family link to the Skelton yard at Alcester through Gina's sister Bridget and brother Jack who both ride for Dan. And of course, Bridget married Harry Skelton last year, so to say the whole enterprise is close-knit would be something of an understatement.
Gina has been out of the public eye since that crunching fall in December that saw a wicked injury to her face, so the enforced sabbatical for amateur riders has allowed some unwelcome down time.
Thus it was that Bridget, although a pro, has ridden five of the seven runners in hunter chases so far this year, including this afternoon's third winner of the term, French-bred Fumet d'Oudairies, in the maiden hunters chase at Leicester this afternoon. In what looked a one-sided contest, Fumet d'Oudiaries had mastered his rivals well before the last fence, and won going away from a wandering I'm Wiser Now for the in-form Fergal O'Brien stable.
It was a rare treat too to see a second hunters event on the card, even if this was dominated by a professional performance from the most professional trainer on the circuit - Paul Nicholls. Cat Tiger, a 4/9 favourite, won as you might expect an odds-on shot to, but when he next runs, hopefully his indefatigable amateur owner David Maxwell will be back in the plate.
Cat Tiger is an illustration of the rising quality of horses going pointing and hunter chasing nowadays. This was his first win over fences in the UK since winning a 4 YO chase at Auteuil under Maxwell back in November 2018. That's not to say he's been sidelined since: quite the reverse. On his arrival in the UK, he was still a novice over hurdles and his only blemish in the 2019-20 season was to pull up behind Monkfish in last year's Albert Bartlett at the Festival. So we can expect more to come.