Trainer Greatrex pays tribute to groom in an emotional afternoon at windswept Newbury

Peter Moore at Newbury

Tuesday 23rd January 2024

On a day when Storm Jocelyn started to kick in at a windswept Newbury, it was an emotional afternoon from Newmarket trainer Warren Greatrex who paid tribute to Burrough Hill Lad groom Andrew ‘Scobie’ Jones who passed away at the age of 63 last week.

After Greatrex saddled top weight Abuffalosoldier to success in the Remembering Bob Olney Novices Handicap Steeple Chase, the Newmarket trainer paid tribute to the popular Jones.

“He had a short battle with cancer,” said the Lambourn trainer. “He was such a nice guy, who loved life and looked after Burrough Hill Lad when he worked for Jenny Pitman.

“He was an absolute gent and, even at 63, he would ride anything you’d put him on. He never moaned or whinged and was never late. He’d been in Lambourn for a long time and worked in racing all of his life. He was with us for about three years and was a joy to be around, and it’s such a shame because he wasn’t ready to go.”

In terms of Abuffalosoldier, Greatrex added, “This horse has so much talent, but lacks confidence. We put the cheekpieces on to help him concentrate and that performance is what I’ve been expecting all season. I need to get him to think he can take on the world because there’s no doubt he can gallop and jump.”

The opener on the card went to the Dan Skelton trained five year old Be Aware, who looked an interesting newcomer on debut in the 2m maiden hurdle race.

The gelding is owned by Andrew Cohen, who also owned Grand National stalwart Sunny Bay, and already there are early signs that Be Aware can prove to be a very useful hurdler.

Skelton’s assistant Tom Messenger said  “We’ve always thought he was a nice horse and we know the family well as we’ve got his older brother Lac De Constance. He was capable of winning so it’s not a surprise, but it was just whether he was up to it mentally.

“Lac De Constance has had a setback and is out for the season, so it’s nice this lad has come out and can take over – he’s probably one of the nicer novice hurdlers we’ve got.”

The race itself was the first at the course to be screened on Sky Sports Racing, after taking over from Racing TV who previously covered racing at the Berkshire track.

Philip Hobbs and Johnson White currently have two entries in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle. One of those entries is Into The Park who enhanced his reputation with a comfortable eight length winner of the second division of the maiden hurdle, after leading from pillar to post.

Hobbs said: “He won well. He’s improved with everything he’s done at home and on the racecourse and hopefully he’s still going in the right direction. I did put him in the Supreme this morning just in case, but I’m not saying he’s going there.”

Elsewhere, Gary Moore’s Issar D’airy was a short head winner of the 2m Handicap Steeple Chase, with Niall Houlihan getting the better of Rex Dingle on I’d Like To Know who was running over fences for the first time.

Top weight Valadon backed up his Exeter success 25 days ago with a 3 and a quarter length win in the third race of the afternoon for trainer Harry Fry.