Popaway flies to victory at Oakley for Harkin

Facile Bien and Sam Waley-Cohen on their way to winning the Confined Hunts Race. Photo: Neale Blackburn Chasdog.com
Facile Bien and Sam Waley-Cohen on their way to winning the Confined Hunts Race. Photo: Neale Blackburn Chasdog.com
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Popaway made up for missing out at last week’s Cheltenham Festival by taking the honours in Sunday’s Oakley Hunt Point-to-Point meeting.

Edgcote trainer Pauline Harkin believes Popaway is getting better with age.

The older she gets the better she becomes, it is quite extraordinary

Trainer Pauline Harkin

Harkin’s 12-year-old mare, who was balloted out of Friday’s St James’s Palace Foxhunters at the Cheltenham Festival, produced a dazzling display to take the Fisher German Ladies Open at Braefield-on-the-Green.

A mighty leap at the fifth last fence took Immy Robinson’s mount into the lead and she stormed clear to slam last year’s winner, Dabinett Moon, by 20 lengths, with Vedettariat a further 25 lengths back in third.

Popaway passed the post in 6:8.26, almost seven seconds quicker than any other winner on the card.

Harkin said: “The older she gets the better she becomes, it is quite extraordinary. She is just loving the game, I don’t know why she is getting better.

“It seems to be this season in particular. She has always been good but never this good.”

Robinson added: “She loves winning so much. She is unbelievable and it is a great privilege to ride her.”

Popaway’s main target this term is a repeat of last year’s success in the mares’ race at the Cheltenham Hunter Chase meeting in May.

Owner-trainer Robert Waley-Cohen could aim Facile Bien at one of the Goffs UK Point-to-Point Bumpers after the six-year-old rattled up a hat-trick of wins with a smart performance in the Bells Motor Group Confined Race.

Sam Waley-Cohen took up the running at the fourth last and he quickly went clear to hammer Golden Tobouggan, who was chasing a four-timer, by 15 lengths.

Afterwards, the Edghill trainer said: “I bought him at the sales at Cheltenham. He had run in three point-to-points in Ireland and was second in all of them.

“He has now won a maiden, restricted and confined, so we will probably have to look for an intermediate.”

The jockey added: “He has matured this season and is making up into a really nice prospect.”