The Lady Dudley Cup
PUBLISHED: 17:18 23 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:55 20 February 2013
The Worcestershire point-to-point's biggest race of the season is at Chaddesley Corbett this month. Pete Mansell outlines the history of this hotly-anticipated race, and looks at some of this year's runners and riders.<br/><br/><br/><br/>Photographs: Phil Britt
The Lady Dudley Cup has been the centrepiece of the Worcestershire Point-to-Point since 1897. Before that, races at all point-to-point meetings had only been for horses qualified with the promoting Hunt, but that year the Countess of Dudley managed to secure funding for the 50 guinea cup that now bears her name. The race was open to any horse qualified with one of the recognised packs of foxhounds in the UK and can be said to have set the trend for the future.
The race took place on a course near the Old Chequer Inn at Crowle between 1897 until the advent of war in 1939. The race was re-instigated in 1946 but it was deemed Crowle would be unable to accommodate the large crowds that were expected so a move was made to Chaddesley Corbett, although this was on the opposite side of the road to the course that is currently in use. The 1950 race provided the first instance of the race being won by a Worcestershire farmer, when Terry Cartridge won on a horse called Maybe II.
The race moved to Ryalls Court, Upton-upon-Severn in 1951 and stayed at that venue until the race was lost to waterlogging in 1969. This prompted the move back to its present site at Chaddlesley Corbett in 1970, where the distance of the race was extended to 3 miles 520 yards.
Due to the popularity of the race several divisions of the race were necessary between 1953 and 1963 when it was won by some of the highest profile names competing in the sport at that time.
There have been two Worcestershire winners of the Dudley Cup since the turn of the millennium when Caught at Dawn won the big race for Hindlip farmer Martin Weston and his son Tom in 2004, while Unmistakably carried the colours of Christine Banks to victory in 2006.
The latter success kept up a family tradition in the race because her grandfather Major Harold Rushton had won the race with ODell back in 1936, while her mother Pat Tollit rode an incredible 171 winners between the flags when female riders were only able to ride in one race at a meeting.
Entries for the big race do not close until a week before the meeting on Saturday 17th April. At the time of writing, it is too early in the season to predict the winner of the big race, but Burntoakboy and Cedrus Libani have the potential to see off all challengers.
The former is trained by Dr Richard Newland at Claines near Worcester and despite having breathing problems in the past, he ran up to his best form when scoring at Chaddesley in December.
Cedrus Libani is trained by William and Angela Rucker at their home near Droitwich. He has won two point-to-points and a hunter chase with Richard Burton in the saddle but disappointed when Mrs Rucker took the ride at Higham.
Success for Cedrus Libani would be popular with the locals because Mrs Ruckers would be able to emulate his sister Christine Banks victory in the race while the familys royal blue and cerise hoop colours have been a major feature in West Midland Racing for over 90 years.
Mrs Tollits third daughter Katherine Smith Maxwell enjoyed success between the flags but she has now passed the baton onto her daughter Alex Smith Maxwell who might have an outside chance in the big race with Winning Counsel.
The eight-year-old has won numerous times under Rules before the Smith Maxwells acquired him, but he ran disappointingly on his first run for his new connections in mid-February.
The next few weeks will tell us whether any of these horses have the potential to make their mark in the Dudley Cup.