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New Forest Review
New Forest Hounds review
The decision to rearrange the New Forest meeting to a late May date was rewarded as it was a glorious spring day at Larkhill where a reasonable crowd was able to enjoy six races and also participate in picnics on Salisbury Plain. On the racecourse itself it was a day of mixed fortunes for rider George Hiscock and a first and last race double for owner Tim Underwood and a first winner at Larkhill for owner Richard Harper and rider Guy Sankey.
George began the day in the Conditions race aboard his partner Charlotte Brown’s Theatre Evening. Deciding to make the running the King’s Theatre gelding jumped very well off the firm ground and looked to have his rivals in trouble as he approached the fifteenth fence. However Philip York and Presenting Beara had been making steady headway and joining the leader at the final open ditch they raced together until he found extra on the run in to win by two lengths. Owner Tim Underwood explained that he does little with his horses between their races although when he rode him last Thursday he ran off with him so knew that he was still keen to race again having only raced on the previous Sunday.
The Open Maiden proved that lightning does strike twice with the victory of Brereton for owner Richard Harper. Without a point to point winner since 2005 he had won a Maiden race at Edgcote the previous Sunday with Just Skittles and followed up that win when Brereton made all the running under Guy Sankey to beat the only other finisher Lyre Lad ridden by Lewis Stones. Bought out of Kayley Woollacott’s stable for £700 at Ascot in March Richard who trains at Kings Sutton near Banbury could hardly believe his success and was delighted to have recorded a first win at Larkhill. Explaining his jockey booking Richard originally had been using Patrick Sankey, Guy’s brother but when he announced his retirement from riding Patrick recommended Guy to Richard. Ironically Patrick then changed his mind about retirement and rode the only other runner in the race Ourcrazyanne who unseated Patrick at the first fence!
The Timico Mixed Open race was the highlight of the meeting and a field of four set off. After just over a mile George Hiscock aboard Martin and Kathryn Peaty’s Boygojumping took over the running from his main rivals Sharp Suit ridden by James King and Rouge Devils ridden by Will Biddick. He soon started stretching the field and with some spectacular leaps notably at the fifteenth fence and the second last he was twenty lengths clear as he approached the last fence. Although he jumped that fence he sadly broke down badly almost immediately afterwards leaving Sharp Suit to come home virtually on his own. Boygojumping has been an absolute star for the Peaty family winning three times at his favourite course of Badbury Rings and once at Black Forest Lodge in a career spanning twenty two races.
Delgany Devil was a comfortable winner of the Open Maiden race under Jordan Nailor. Taking up the running at the tenth fence the eight year old Kayf Tara drew clear to win by twelve lengths from principal rival Justu ridden by Will Biddick. Representing his son Hugh who was away in France at his niece’s wedding Guy Wilson explained that the gelding had been bought as a four year old but had had training problems which had limited his racecourse outings. He had been taken to Edgcote last weekend but had decided that the ground was not suitable. One of three horses in training with Francesca Moller this was their second winner of the season after Dandan had won the Hunt race at Mollington.
The Restricted race saw a change in fortune for George Hiscock when riding his father Dick’s Doctor’s Differ he held off the challenges of Coco Live ridden by David Prichard and Fivefortyfive ridden by Will Biddick to win by two and a half lengths. A model of consistency this season the seven year gelding was a deserving winner after two seconds at Larkhill and Holnicote and finished his season on a high note with this victory. Originally bought at Ascot in March  2017 he had previously run in one point to point  in Ireland and was described by George’s  partner Charlotte as being ‘ fat and hairy’ on that occasion. .

Tim Underwood completed his double when Golden Crisp comfortably won the concluding race, the PPORA Novice Riders under Craig Dowson. Explaining his upturn in fortune Tim explained that the gelding does not like soft ground and this firm surface was much more to his liking. When questioned about his choice of rider Tim had been recommended Craig by Martin Oliver who sources many of Tim’s horses describing Craig’s style of riding as similar to Ruby Walsh. Craig who works for trainer Robert Stephens had ridden out 5 lots before coming on to Larkhill was recording his sixth victory of the season and is hoping to obtain his B licence shortly so that he can ride more under Rules.
By Bob Bracher

New Forest preview
The rearranged New Forest meeting is scheduled to take place at Larkhill on Salisbury Plain this coming Saturday. Previously due to be held in March it was abandoned due to snow and ice and the Hunt committee made the decision to rearrange for May due to  earlier dates not being available and the risk that the going would have considerably changed. The ground has now become firm but it is still hoped that the meeting can go ahead to reward the efforts of the Hunt. Fences 5 and 6 have been moved onto fresh ground and the bends into and out of the home straight have also been moved to an unraced surface. Prior to the point to point racing there will be a charity race and two pony scurries starting from 12.00pm.
The opening race, the Conditions, has attracted an entry of thirteen horses with a number of course specialists among them. Bedrock Fred who was second in a Ladies earlier in the season normally runs well at the course and will enjoy the conditions. Hincheslea Moor is another course winner but has not shown much this season. Trueflyingcolours won at the last meeting and was a good second at Cothelstone and keeps his form well. Tim Underwood has entered both Presenting Beara, a winner last weekend at Edgcote and Kicker King placed third at the same meeting and his chosen representative should be respected. Dandan won his Hunt race at Mollington whereas According to Trev was second at Peper Harrow. Before the War, the likely mount of Will Biddick, would have a chance on his best form as would Theatre Evening if given a more positive ride. Broughtons Bandit third on his only outing this season at Aldington comes into consideration but in a wide open race Trueflyingcolours would be a popular winner.
Whereas the previous race contains much form to weigh up the Open Maiden which follows has little form to go on. Lyre Lad finished second in a two runner race whereas Gayatri finished last in a Maiden at the course in December. Brereton was pulled up on his first outing at Edgcote last weekend and Perfect Legend was pulled up at Cothelstone on his last outing. Now in the capable hands of leading trainer Ed Walker a chance is taken on the last named to improve enough to take this contest.
The Timico Mixed Open is the highlight of the meeting and the Alan Hill trained Sharp Suit looks to have found a good opportunity. Placed second in a Ladies at Horseheath on his only outing this season he could be too good for his rivals. La Madonnina was a game winner of a Conditions race last Sunday at Bratton Down and is in great form whereas both Boygojumping and Golden Crisp have had busy seasons. Rouge Devils was second at Holnicote and could the one to trouble Sharp Suit the most.
The Open Maiden over two and half miles includes entries from all of those entered in the three mile contest but the race may be between Delgany Devil and Justu. The former was fourth in a Restricted race at Kingston Blount and boasts the best form but Justu who looked the winner four from home at Cothelstone but did not stay might appreciate the drop in trip and could make a real race of it with Delgany Devil.
The Restricted race may see the reappearance of the Lower Machen maiden winner Burn Baby Byrne who won on her debut under Isabel Williams. If she stays the full trip then she is the one to beat but the consistent Doctor’s Differ may give her most to do. The winner of a maiden at Badbury Rings he has been placed in two Restricted races so far and will act on the faster surface. Wild Ginger is another who may appreciate a sounder surface and Coco Live who has been placed this season comes into consideration.
The meeting concludes with the Novice Riders race for which Golden Crisp, Presenting Beara and Before the War also hold entries. This might be an easier contest than their other options but Aerlite Supreme looks to have the best form. Already the winner of three races this season he was second in a Ladies at Lower Machen and could provide Isabel Williams with another winner. Of his other possible rivals the locally trained Adrenalin Flight ran very well behind the classy Wonderful Charm at Fontwell and a reproduction of that form would give him a chance. Cinevator goes well for his rider Ella Pickard and he is in good form having won his Hunt race at Vauterhill. If Aerlite Supreme makes the trip from Wales then he will be the selection.

Bob Bracher PRO Wessex Area

Larkhill Racecourse is to be found 5m NW of Amesbury, Nr A303, A345 and A360 – Postcode SP4 8QT. First Race 2.00pm. Entry Costs £10 per person.


South and West Wilts Review 
Spring arrived at Larkhill and a good crowd enjoyed some fine warm weather at the South and West Wilts point-to-point. On going described officially at good, good to firm in places the meeting was dominated by champion jockey Will Biddick who rode three winners and Martin McIntyre who rode a double. At the other end of the spectrum Hollie Greene rode her first ever winner in her first season of riding in point-to-points
Martin began the day by steering the ever popular Trueflyingcolours to a five length victory in the Hunt race over his only rival Thepremierbroker ridden by Lorcan Williams. Recording his fourth career win at Larkhill on a surface he would much prefer the gelding was giving trainer Stuart Penny a belated first winner of the season. Assistant trainer Teona Hammond dedicated the victory to the memory of Brian Young who had been a staunch supporter of Stuart’s stable over many years. She added that to keep the horse’s interest (this was his 40 career race) he has been doing a variety of activities including leading the ponies and jumping logs in the woods.
An eventful Maiden race followed with only five of the twelve starters finishing the race. Sinour ridden by Rilly Goschen established a clear lead for much of the race but appeared to be weakening when falling at the third last. This left the slow starting Foxworthy who had been making steady headway clear and he maintained a commanding advantage all the way to the line in the hands of Will Biddick. Bred by owner Richard Kelvin-Hughes out a useful mare called Candy Creek the imposing gelding had shown promise on his debut three weeks and would have been closer to the winner that day except for a bad blunder at the third last. A late developing six year old he should go on to better things.
Subtle Sovereign on his belated seasonal debut showed his love for Larkhill to be undiminished when scoring for the seventh time at the Wiltshire course when winning the Ladies race under Lucy Mager. Owned by the nine strong Notre Cheval Partnership and trained by Teresa Clark the gelding had been an intended runner in his Hunt race at Kingston St Mary but when that meeting was called off this race on ground that he would prefer was chosen. He was followed home by Bedrock Fred ridden for the first time by Aine O’Connor who made a miraculous recovery from a bad mistake at the third fence.
Will Biddick notched up another winner when taking the Mens Open race on board Richard Kelvin-Hughes‘s Different Gravey trained by Ed Walker. Previously a high class horse when trained by Nicky Henderson he had rather lost his way under Rules but a spell of hunting with Polly Walker and a different environment has transformed him back into a confident individual. He held off the challenge of Bistouri D’Honore ridden by Ed Doggrell by three lengths with another ten lengths back to Sidbury Hill. There are no firm plans for the winner but Richard hopes that they might be able to get another run into him before the season ends.
Will’s treble came courtesy of Sixteen Letters in the young Maiden race. Facing only one opponent who unseated her rider at the eighth fence this was a bloodless victory. Previously owned by the late Richard Woollacott owner John Symes was persuaded by Richard to buy him as both of the horses John ran last season had been retired. John revealed that this was the first time Will had ever ridden for him and quipped that ‘it was probably because he had not had anything good enough for Will to ride in the past’ There was another connection with the Biddick family in that John had bought one of his best horses Whizzaar from Will’s father Mike after that gelding had fallen at Lifton in 2005 and then went on to win ten point-to-points and four Hunter Chases.
There was a dramatic finish to the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate race with Blue Benny and Whatastormnorm flashing past the post together. After a brief delay the judge decided he could not split them and awarded a dead heat between them. This gave 17 year old Hollie Greene her first ever winner on her grandmother Jill Miller’s Blue Benny. Trained earlier in the season by Michael Miller he was transferred to neighbour Lucy Felton who has been riding him at home as Hollie is still at school in North London and had not sat on him for a couple of weeks. Described by Lucy as ‘a real dude’ and a pleasure to train Blue Benny had run a good race at Milborne last month when finishing fourth. Whatastormnorm gave Ella Pickard a change in fortune when giving her the first winner of this season from the five horses she trains from her home base. Owned by her younger sister Ruby he was previously owned by Norman Chanin and had won at Great Trethew in 2016. Ella works for National Hunt trainer Jeremy Scott as well as looking after her point-to-pointers.

Martin McIntyre completed his double aboard Godfrey Maundrell’s Delineate in the Restricted race. Normally ridden by Zak Baker he had been booked to ride in the Scottish Grand National and put forward Martin for the ride on Delineate. When his intended mount at Ayr was withdrawn he found himself available to ride and ironically had a ride in the race Castle Cheetah who fell at the second fence. Delineate had previously won the Hunt race at the Royal Artillery meeting and showed her liking for Larkhill by gamely holding off the challenge of Doctor’s Differ ridden by George Hiscock. Riding for Godfrey for the first time Martin showed his strength in a finish and had four lengths to spare at the finish. 

With another washout in Wessex last weekend, local trainers will be keen to get their horses back out on the course and the Lycetts South & West Wilts meeting at Larkhill this Saturday looks to have benefitted with 122 entries. The Willowbrook Challenge Charity race in aid of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance kicks of the activities with 9 set to face the starter over 12 furlongs.  Owner Donald Hinks may have stolen a march on the remaining contestants recruiting his own Cucklington already a 4 time winner under rules this season for Colin Tizzard.  Hopefully Harry Cobden, the horse’s regular rider will be discussing best riding tactics!  Donald’s opponents include race regular Selina Kirkbride and veteran rider John Mead who has the choice of two mounts.
 The first race, the Hunt Members, includes the 3 time course winner, Trueflyingcolours trained by Stuart Penny.  He hasn’t won since taking a Ladies Open here in 2015 but if the ground continues to dry he may find it more to his liking than last time at Badbury Rings.  Opposing him are the mare, Gayatri who showed up well for a time 2 weeks ago at Badbury Rings for trainer Caroline Hobbs, and Thepremierbroker who won an Irish point in March before being purchased by Mel Smith Bloodstock to join Bea Coward to replace the sidelined Arcal Fifty.
The first maiden has attracted 26 entries including Foxworthy for the Ed Walker stable.  He may have finished closer than 3 but for a mistake 3 out here 3 weeks ago and should improve.  On that occasion Imogen’s Thunder finished one place ahead of him.  Rose Loxton has Hugo’s Horse for owner Andy Stewart and he was unlucky to run into the promising Muse of Fire last time he ran here with Sixteen Letters unseating in the same race.  He may however wait for the younger maiden later on the card.  Teresa Clark has promising pair, Pancrace and Port Navas entered and either would be entitled to build on their previous runs.  Alan Walter’s River Wye put in her most promising run to date when last seen when second at Trebudannon last May.    Smoke Man finished second on his only start to date and should improve while any Tom Lacey debutante merits respect.  His The Triple Pillar is out of useful NH mare Issaquah, herself twice placed at the Aintree Festival, and being a 4yo he would be in receipt of up to 21lbs from his older rivals.
Ashton Farms Ltd continue to sponsor the Ladies Open and this looks to be a decent contest with 16 entries headed by Mike Felton’s Bistouri d’Honore who won nicely at Badbury Rings when taking the Novices Riders race under Ed Doggrell.  He had earlier taken a Ladies Open at the same course and previously been a fair second at Larkhill in January.  Subtle Sovereign has yet to run this season due to cancellations but has won 6 times at the track including his seasonal debut last year.  He has also stuck up a great partnership with jockey Lucy Mager.  Sidbury Hill won twice here last season while another dual course winner, Storm Lantern was unlucky not to win a Ladies Open here in January under owner/jockey Jo Harbison.
The Lycetts Men’s Open boasts a healthy 30 entries including the useful Different Gravey.  Formerly once rated 160 with Nicky Henderson, he has taken to pointing well this season recording victories at Didmarton and here at Larkhill.  On the latter occasion Sally Alner’s 4 time course winner, Thereyarsee unseated when still in contention.  Thereyarsee had earlier routed the opposition in a 30 length romp at the course in a Conditions race in January.   Classy mare Fishy Story may well have won the Men’s Open at Milborne St Andrew last time but for unseating three out.  Former Jamie Snowden inmate, Ardkilly Witness just failed to reel in Curraigflemens last time at Horseheath and could improve while Carrig Dubh was second in a confined here last time.  Universal Soldier clocked up 5 wins last term under James Bowen and has been running well for new handler Matt Hampton this season.
The second Maiden is for younger horses and Rose Loxton may choose this option for Hugo’s Horse.  A big danger would be Ed Walker’s unraced My Dixie who is well-bred being a half-sister to My Dance a dual winner under rules for Anthony Honeyball.  Ed also has another well-bred debutante in Gio’s Girl.  She is out of the mare Programme Girl who was a multiple winner under rules for Alan Swinbank.  Others to consider are Sixteen Letters, and Sally Alner’s Truly Spoken and two further debutantes, Soraya and Rob the Getaway.
The Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate is an additional race to the card due to other fixtures being lost.  It has 13 entries which include Claire Hitch’s Every Breakin’ Wave, a three time winner last season and Teresa Clark’s Umberleigh winner, Give Us Peace.  Both may enjoy the ground as it dries out as might the mare Our Milly Acres.  Teresa also has Mistress Massini who put in a good performance when making all to land a Restricted at Barbury 2 weeks ago.  Micky Stark made light of the heavy conditions last time at Buckfastleigh to win nicely under Zoe Hawkins.  Silent Warrior was not disgraced in 3 last time here behind 2 useful horses while The Drone was in winning form when last seen in May.
The finale is a Restricted race and this could be between the 5yos, Top Garry who took his maiden nicely under Page Fuller at Garthorpe in February and Danseur du Large a winner at Ston Easton from subsequent scorer, Ann Maries Reject.  Others to consider are George Hiscock’s Doctor’s Differ who won his maiden well at Badbury Rings in February while Restless Rebel seems to save his best runs for Chipley Park.
Larkhill Racecourse is 5m NW of Amesbury, Nr A303, A345 and A360 – Postcode SP4 8QT. The Charity Race is at 1.15pm with the first point to point race at 2pm.  Entry Costs £10 per person.
Kirstin Boutflower

Avon Vale review
A grey and somewhat chilly Easter Saturday at Larkhill was enlivened by some good quality racing when the Avon Vale held their meeting in which friends and family celebrated the life of James McNeile who lost his life after a fall at this meeting twelve months ago. The inaugural race in his memory was won by Railway Storm ridden by Ryan Withey whereas the other highlights were riding doubles for Will Biddick and Tommie O’Brien and training doubles for Ed Walker and Sophie Lacey.
Sarazen Bridge ridden by Nick Phillips made all of the running to land the opening race, the Confined race, with the winning distance of four lengths from Carrig Dubh ridden by Charlie Dando. Owned by Alice Dolman and trained by Elizabeth Brown he was supplementing his victory at the Royal Artillery meeting in January. Nick admitted that he had left his challenge at the Combined Services meeting too late so this time made no mistake by setting off in front and remaining there at the finish. Alice revealed that the horse will be staying point-to-pointing as he has a non- racing agreement in his passport and is looking forward to running him in higher grade races.
Owner Tom Lacey introduced a smart four year old by Getaway called Muse of Fire who was a narrow winner of the two and a half mile Maiden race beating the only other finisher Hugos Horse by three quarters of a length. Tom reported that the horse did not enjoy the soft ground and his cause was not helped by a loose horse galloping across him on a couple of occasions and crossing him again on the run in. Paying credit to his jockey Tommie O’Brien who he described as ‘doing a great job on him’ who in turn said that his mount was’ rather green but toughed it out at the end of the race’.
Punter Friendly was a very narrow winner of the Conditions race under Will Biddick who just got the better of the only other finisher Crackacan ridden by Tom Doggrell. Ridden by Will for the first time he was not helped by mistakes at two of the last four fences but Will’s strength in a finish was a decisive factor. Owned by Richard and Sylvia Francome and trained by Ed Walker Sylvia affectionately described her horse as ‘an old bat who dislikes hunting who usually is a brilliant jumper ‘but is normally ridden by Josh Newman who was riding at Buckfastleigh.
Will secured his double in the next race, the Mixed Open race, aboard Different Gravey also trained by Ed Walker. The race was developing into a duel between Different Gravey and Thereyarsee ridden by Lorcan Williams when the last named blundered badly at the third last giving Lorcan no chance of remaining in the saddle. This allowed Will to coast home to secure a twelve length victory over Asockastar. Owned by Richard Kelvin-Hughes he reported that the gelding had lost his confidence under Rules and also was suffering from ulcers and his trainer Nicky Henderson had suggested that a change of scenery might recapture his former good form. He has hunted on a regular basis by Polly Walker and he seems to have greatly benefited from this.
Tom Lacey secured his second victory as an owner when his King Roland was an impressive winner in the Open Maiden race. Drawing clear from the second last he had fifteen lengths in hand from runner up Imogens Thunder and newcomer Foxworthy and rider Tommie O’Brien had some difficulty in pulling up his mount and had to travel some three furlongs after the winning post before bringing him to a halt.  Tom described his win as ‘ an exceptional performance’ and ‘ a debut as good as I have seen in 10 years of having pointers’ and he is a big horse for a four year old and still has more growing up to do. He may be going to the forthcoming Aintree sale and if so will attract a great deal of interest.
The Conditions race for Veteran and Novice Riders sponsored by the James McNeile Fan Club provided a surprise winner when the outsider of the four runners Railway Storm ridden by Ryan Withey proved to be too good for his rivals. Leading from the ninth fence he stayed on well to beat nearest rival Minellahalfcentury owned by James McNeile’s estate by twelve lengths. Owned by Christopher White from Sparkford the gelding had been acquired from Jimmy Frost who had won a steeplechase at Exeter under Bryony Frost in 2016. Reminiscing about his own riding career he said with a smile that’ I had over 100 rides but only had a single winner called Knigh Lover a long time ago’

Kit Barry was a cosy winner of the Intermediate race when collaring leader V Neck at the last fence and drawing away on the run-in to record a five length victory. Owned and trained by David Dando and ridden by his son Charlie he has been gradually improving and was recording his third win in a row. Charlie explained that he needs to be held up for as long as possible and the partnership are unbeaten this season after two starts. 

Avon Vale preview
The Avon Vale hold their meeting at Larkhill on Easter Saturday and with good going currently forecast there should be some very competitive racing amongst the seven race card. In addition to the racing there will be a lot of Easter activities including an Easter Egg Hunt for under 16s at 12 noon, a Fun Dog Show from 12.30pm and an equicizor on site with tutoring from a professional rider. There will be a race (the Veteran and Novice race) to celebrate the life and sporting endeavour of James McNeile who tragically lost his life at this meeting last year and 50 members of the recently formed Fan Club will be in attendance. There will be an exit collection and a donation made by the Hunt for the Injured Jockeys Fund.
The first race, the Confined, has attracted fourteen entries with previous course winner Sarazen Bridge likely to be one of the fancied horses. Other course specialists include Hincheslea Moor, Sidbury Hill and Impact Area and their chances should be respected. Carrig Dubh won an Intermediate at Didmarton for Charlie Dando and is clearly improving. Punter Friendly won his Hunt race at the same meeting and may be the one to chase Sarazen Bridge home. Billy Two Tongues won two chases for Jeremy Scott and will be partnered by Luca Morgan following his purchase.
The Open Maiden over two and half miles features a number of horses yet to make their racecourse debuts. The Sophie Lacey trained pair of King Roland and Muse of Fire should be watched with interest as well as the Ed Walker trained pair of Foxworthy and My Dixie both owned by Richard Kelvin-Hughes. Gypsy Charm another 4 year old from Ian Chanin’s yard should be noted and of those that have raced Hugos Horse and Sixteen Letters have the best form. The Sophie Lacey selected representative may come out best.
The Conditions race for horses aged 9 and over which has been sponsored by Johnnie Boden who knew James McNeile well, has received an entry of 22 horses with a number entered in the Confined race also holding an entry in this race. Broadway Symphony was a good winner at Ampton in January and should have chances as well as Colbert Station who finished fourth at Ystradowen last Saturday. Crackacan was only seen once last season when finishing second at Kingston St Mary but clearly retains some ability. Bellenos won two chases for Dan Skelton but has not been seen since October 2015. If Punter Friendly swerves the Confined race then he might the answer to a tricky looking race.
The Mixed Open race sponsored by the Westons of Goodman Nash has a quality looking field of 15 entries with Broken Eagle and The Wealerdealer the standout horses. Broken Eagle the winner of 13 of his 16 point-to-point races has a choice of four races over the holiday period so The Wealerdealer might be a more likely runner. Different Gravey won on his point-to-point debut at Didmarton and Ni Sin E Mo Ainm won the Ladies race at Chaddesley Corbett on his seasonal debut. Thereyarsee did not enjoy going left handed at Charlton Horethorne and returns to his favourite course at Larkhill. Hard Station the winner of two Hunter Chases in Ireland and Woodfleet are 
both trained by Richard Bandey and his preferred runner comes into the mix. The Wealerdealer is slightly preferred over Ni Sin E Mo Ainm.
The Open Maiden race also contains entries for the Sophie Lacey pair as well as Hattie Hopkinson from the same yard who finished second at the Brocklesby meeting. Of the others that have raced Loodeen was second at Larkhill earlier in the season before falling at Charlton Horethorne and Hugos Horse fell in that same race. River Wye had form from last season but has not been out yet in 2018. If Hattie Hopkinson is the selected Lacey representative then she will be the choice.
The Veterans and Novice Riders race with a brand new trophy to commemorate James McNeile’s life has received 15 entries with Woodfleet the classy entry. The winner of the Intermediate Final at Cheltenham last year he has been taking on much better company and this might be an opportunity to give him some confidence back. Potential rivals include Adrenalin Flight who gave Matthew Fielding his first winner, The Caller narrowly beaten at Bangor-on-Dee by Barel of Laughs and Minellahalfcentury who is the last horse still owned by the estate of James McNeile. Woodfleet is selected for this race.
The meeting concludes with an intriguing Intermediate race which may see a clash between the unbeaten Silent Warrior, the impressive Charlton Horethorne winner Swincombe Toby, the equally easy winner Blackwater Bramble who won at Milborne but disappointed at Charlton Horethorne and the fragile but talented V Neck. Richard Bandey has two entries Fortune Bound and Irish Legionnaire but they may not be good to halt the upward progress of Swincombe Toby who is narrowly preferred.
Larkhill Racecourse is to be found 5m NW of Amesbury, Nr A303, A345 and A360 – Postcode SP4 8QT. Gates open 10.30am. First race 1.00 pm Entry Costs £10 per person, children go free. Early Bird admission prices cease at 6pm on Friday evening –

Combined Services Review
The renewal of the feature race at the Combined Services meeting at Larkhill, the Coronation Gold Cup, produced a real family success for the Barlow family. Owned by Mark and his daughter-in-law Sarah and ridden by Mark’s son Andrew Brackloon High was a very popular winner and followed up his victory in the same race his in 2017. This was the highlight of an excellent day’s racing where the weather remained dry and a good crowd attended the Wiltshire point-to-point course where the going continued to be on the soft side of good. Other notable achievements were first point-to-point riding successes for Matthew Fielding and Gordon Treacy and a smart performance from the 4 year old gelding Interconnected in the Open Maiden race.
Adrenalin Flight provided Matthew Fielding with his first ever winner when winning the Conditions Race for Novice Riders. Biding his time at the rear of the ten strong field he gradually made progress to pass long- time leader Bridge End and had five lengths in hand at the winning post. Owned by Matthew’s boss Seamus Mullins and trained by Sally Rawlins at Figheldean the gelding who won 4 steeplechases and 2 Hurdles when trained by Seamus provided his son James with his first winner last season. Matthew, 20, from Enford, joined Seamus’s stable straight from school and paid tribute to him for teaching him all he knows about race riding and for allowing him to ride Adrenalin Flight. Sally was keen to give credit to Andy Dicks who rides him at home as well as riding out for Richard Hannon.
After supervising events at Ascot on Saturday Guy Henderson was in a different role at Larkhill when watching his and his wife’s gelding It Has to Be ridden by their son Ed win the Restricted race. A previous winner this season at Wadebridge this was the horse’s first visit to Larkhill but he was a comfortable six lengths winner. Ed who is currently studying law at Exeter does ride out at Paul Nicholls stable when time permits but leaves the work on the seven year old to his mother Sophie and Veronika Hicksova back at home in Dorset.
Alternatif provided Gordon Treacy with his first ever point-to-point winner although he has won two races under Rules. He joined Jade Barber’s stable during the summer but has recently become a part-time work rider to give him other opportunities to ride for other stables and hopes that his Novice status will be used this season. The winner, bought from David Pipe’s stable in 2017, joined Jade’s yard at the beginning of the season and provided her with her second training victory of the season in the Conditions race. Owned by Peter Barfoot and Angela Cooper who were celebrating their first point-to-point winner Peter explained that he had played polo for over 25 years and was Chairman of Cowdray Park until a very serious accident eighteen months ago which curtailed that interest. Drawn to point-to-pointing as a means to keep a connection with horses he explained that his racing colours of bright yellow and green were related to the sweetcorn and other more exotic vegetable business which bears his name.
Brackloon High defied his thirteen years to defeat much younger rivals in the Coronation Gold Cup and to become the first horse to win this most prestigious race two years running since Dawn Street thirty years ago. Although Andrew Barlow put up two pounds overweight he had lost half a stone since his last ride on 27 January to get down to his minimum weight and was looking forward to another square meal. Tracking the leaders Mon Parrain and favourite Full Trottle he went to the front approaching the last and with a bold jump he looked to have the race won easily. However Andrew commented afterwards that he had hit the front too soon and the gelding had to be encouraged to hold off the renewed challenges of Mon Parrain and Thereyarsee. He added that ‘this win means more to us than last year as the importance of the race and the magnificent trophy has now sunk in’
The Maiden race run over two and a half miles was an all the way success for Cool Valley ridden by Sam Davies-Thomas. Trained by Liz Harris at Waltham on the Wolds in Leicestershire and owned by Catherine Wood-Collins who sadly missed her first ever winner as an owner the nine year gelding had not been seen since May 2016 so this was a tremendous training performance. Bought from an advert on the Jumping for Fun website to go hunting this did not prove a success and a return to racing was suggested to Catherine. Tommy Morgan, partner of Liz, explained that the gelding had done a really good piece of work about six weeks ago and he told Sam that he thought he might have found another useful horse. Although it was a long way from their base the conditions of the race suited them perfectly and with stable star Lough Inch on board as a travelling companion the venture was certainly rewarded.
Interconnected provided owners Tom Lacey and Neil Griffith with a smooth victory in the concluding Open Maiden race ridden by Tommie O’Brien. The four year old took advantage of his weight concession to draw clear of his main pursuers Loodeen and Country Legend on the run in and showed an impressive turn of foot. Bought as a foal from his breeder Stephen Kemble in Ireland in 2014 by Neil Griffith who is better known for his horses that he runs under Rules such as Singlefarmpayment he had been pleasing connections with his work at home and made up for his fall at Thorpe at the end of January. He is most likely to be going to the sales at Cheltenham during the Festival. 

Prior to the point-to-point racing the traditional King’s Troop race was won by Gunner Laura Moon riding Lagertha. Laura, 20, from Wellington, Somerset was riding in her first King’s Troop race and has been a Gunner for 3 years.
Larkhill features one of the seasons most prestigious and famous point-to-point races, the Coronation Gold Cup, at the Combined Services meeting on Sunday. Always a high class race this year’s renewal has attracted a quality entry of 25 horses and with total prize money of £2,000 there will be keen competition to lift the Cup. There has been an excellent entry of 141 horses for the 6 scheduled races and with the going currently on the soft side of good a large turnout of runners is expected. The course has gone back well since the last meeting with bends and the final fence moved. The schooling facilities at Larkhill have been used in recent weeks by leading National Hunt trainers Colin Tizzard, Harry Fry and Seamus Mullins who have appreciated the better going with their own schooling grounds too wet. In addition to the racing organisers have arranged for a total of 22 trade stands to attend with a wide variety of attractions for racegoers to browse and make purchases.
After the traditional Kings Troop race at 12.00 the first point-to-point race, the Conditions Race for Novice Riders, takes place at 12.45. A good entry of 24 horses has been received for this race with Pink Eyed Pedro, Storm Lantern, Tempelpirate and Before the War looking the principal contenders. Pink Eyed Pedro who will be ridden by the promising Connor Brace was an easy winner of a Conditions race at the first January meeting at the course and a repeat of that form should be good enough. Storm Lantern nearly caused an upset at the last meeting when just being beaten by Monsieur Gibraltar and Before the War was finishing well at Milborne St Andrew on his last outing. Tempelpirate is a prolific winner and is starting to build a relationship with Sam Burton.
The Restricted race follows and the two winners of the divided Maiden race at the last meeting may oppose in this event. Both Arcal Fifty and Benjamin Leader were comfortable winners and they may fight out the finish. Other promising sorts to consider are Damby’s Star and Silent Warrior who won the two Maiden races at Cocklebarrow in January. It Has to Be has been very consistent so far this season and Restless Rebel ran well when second at Chipley Park. Gold Decree won a Maiden at Dingley last season but changed hands last August. Good Auld Times won a point –to-point at Moira, Ireland in December and was bought by present connections in January and any market confidence in her should be noted. Benjamin Leader is chosen to continue his upward progress for Mike Daniell.
The Conditions race is next and this has received an entry of 29 horses. Sarazen Bridge was an easy winner of the Intermediate race at the last meeting and on that form may be hard to beat. Others to consider are Fortune Bound who won well at the first Larkhill meeting in December, the choice of the Ed Walker trained pair of Inch Rock or Punter Friendly, Willem who found his form at the end of last season, Bob The Butcher trained by David Brace, Master Sunrise who was placed in two Hunter Chases last season and Pithivier who won a Hurdle for Ben Pauling when owned by Paul and Clare Rooney and who is now with Peter Mason. Sarazen Bridge is the selection in an open looking race.
The Coronation Gold Cup is the fourth race on the card and looks a high class renewal. Both Caid du Berlais and Monsieur Gibraltar from Rose Loxton’s stable have been in excellent form with Harriet Tucker winning 3 races on board in Ladies races. This looks a tougher assignment with the ultra- consistent Full Trottle, last year’s winner Brackloon High, Lilbitluso, Thereyarsee and Bound For Glory amongst their potential rivals. Facile Bien was a comfortable winner at Milborne St Andrew and is certainly improving. William Money has already won three races this season but this is a rise in class for him. Woodfleet ought to come on for his seasonal debut but this is mixing with the best point-to-point horses in the area. Facile Bien is picked to follow up his Milborne win and stake his claim for a Hunter Chase campaign.
The two Maiden races complete the card with the first being a Maiden over 2 and a half miles for horses who have run at least 4 times in a point-to-point. 13 horses are entered with the consistent Troed Y Melin being the standout entry. Placed twice already this season this looks an ideal opportunity for the six year old gelding trained by Chris Honour to get off the mark. Main opposition may come from Ballyjim who was third at the last meeting for trainer Jade Barber, Bastante placed in 2 Irish point-to-points and now with Richard Bandey and Pancrace placed third in a Bumper for Gordon Elliott and now with Teresa Clark.
The biggest entry of the day is for the final race the Open Maiden with a total of 30 horses. Of those with form Kayf Farmer who was second at Chipley Park on his debut looks promising. Hugo’s Horse was placed for Jack Barber last season and is now with Rose Loxton and should be noted. The Jaffna Queen was third at Milborne St Andrew last month and should improve for that run. Of the newcomers notice should be made of the Sophie Lacey trained pair of Interconnected who fell at Thorpe Lodge at the end of last month and Port of Mars, Orchard Lane who was placed in a Bumper for Katy Price and Foxworthy who is out of Candy Creek the winner of the Aintree Bumper in 2009 and the subsequent winner of two Hurdle races for Richard Kelvin-Hughes. A chance is taken with the last named to make a winning debut like his mother.

Royal Artillery review
It was a generally wet and overcast day at Larkhill last Saturday when the going conditions at the Royal Artillery Hunt point-to-point were testing for horses and riders as well as spectators. Some horses relished the going most noticeably Thereyarsee who was a convincing winner of the Conditions Race and another course winner Brackloon High who won the Mens Open race. Other highlights were a first training success for Bea Coward and a welcome winner for long standing trainer Mike Daniell from near Upton-on-Severn
The meeting began with a surprise winner in the Hunt race when Delineate ran out a comfortable winner under Zak Baker for owner/trainer Godfrey Maundrell. Previously a maiden after 16 point to point starts she stayed on much better than her more fancied rivals Adrenalin Flight and Sidbury Hill and had 10 lengths in hand at the line. Bought by Godfrey as a three year old in Ireland the 9 year mare had been placed in a Bumper and a Hurdle as well as numerous placings in point-to-points and was not winning out of turn.
Arcal Fifty provided Bea Coward with her first ever winner as a trainer on only his second appearance for her in the First Division of the Maiden race. As his first race was the void race at the previous meeting when he was disputing the lead the result was not unexpected but it gave the 12 strong Barrow Street Racing Club much to celebrate afterwards as he was given an excellent ride by Tommie O’Brien to win by seven lengths. Following the instructions he was given to the letter the gelding was much too good for Cook The Books ridden by Gina Andrews. Tommie was booked by Will Shields one of the owners of the horse courtesy of Facebook having lost the services of the previous rider Jamie Thomas who was believed to have suffered a broken wrist. Bea who trains two horses at Barrow Street near Mere on the Somerset/Wiltshire border is a former work rider for Caroline Keevil and is the daughter of the well- known sculptor Sarah Coward.
Benjamin Leader named after the Victorian landscape painter was a welcome winner for Mike Daniell in the Second Division of the Maiden race. After Ain’t No Limits had unseated Sam Lee at the third last when still in front the race developed into a match between Benjamin Leader ridden by James Martin and Goldencard ridden by Will Biddick with the former winning by 4 lengths. The winner who is a half- brother to the ill-fated KIngscourt Native who was trained by Colin Tizzard is a home bred like many of Mike’s runners who reminisced in the winner’s enclosure about Kettles his dour stayer who won 4 races for him in the 1990’s. Mike was keen to give Max Comley credit for the work he has done with Benjamin Leader at home.
The Ladies race on paper looked like a guaranteed victory for Monsieur Gibraltar as his form was considerably better than his four rivals. However Storm Lantern made it a proper test and the favourite only wore his rival down in the final strides to win by a head and give his young rider Harriet Tucker her third winner of the season. Explaining the decision to run Monsieur Gibraltar in a Ladies race his trainer Rose Loxton said that’ he was being asked to carry huge weights in Mens Open races whereas Harriet could claim her 5 pound allowance as a Novice and reduce his weight to 10 stone 9 pounds’. Ideally he wants better ground than the soft ground he encountered when he goes Hunter Chasing.
The Conditions Race provided the biggest field (17 ran) and the easiest winner of the day in the form of Thereyarsee ridden by Lorcan Williams. Taking up the running at the 15 fence he drew further clear from his rivals and after a spectacular leap at the 2 last he powered on to the line to finish twenty five lengths clear of his nearest pursuer Call Me Ben. Giving Sally Alner her first training success of the season on the horse that she rides at home owner Bill Dupont was thrilled with his gelding who was recording his fourth course victory at Larkhill.
Brackloon High was recording another win at Larkhill in the Mens Open race under usual pilot Andrew Barlow. Part owner Mark Barlow thought that the ground might be too soft for him but he proved to stay on better than his two closest rivals Bistouri D’Honore and Man of Steel. Although he won last year’s Coronation Gold Cup a repeat attempt might not be on the cards in view of the weight that Andrew would have to carry as this is below his usual weight and dieting did not agree with him in 2017.

A very competitive Intermediate concluded the meeting with Sarazen Bridge ridden by Nick Phillips impressively winning by fifteen lengths. Owned by equine physiotherapist Alice Dorman who is a friend of trainer Elizabeth Brown the gelding relished the ground and although V Neck ran well on his return to racing for Christopher Barber Nick Phillips was in command from the second last.


Larkhill Racing Club Review
A huge turn- out of runners was the feature of the Larkhill Racing Club meeting where a very chilly wind blew across Salisbury Plain and encouraged racegoers to seek warmth at every opportunity. However the racing was of a very high standard and this certainly kept those who had braved the elements to the end of a total of nine races. The highlights were a scintillating return to form of Cousin Pete in the Mens Open race, a double for owner Clive Bennett and his rider Sam Jukes, a double for owner Tom Lacey and his rider Tommie O’Brien and a first riding success for Meisha Micklewright on her first ever ride.
The day began with a narrow victory for Chasforgold owned by Clive Bennett, trained by Emma Alvis and ridden by Sam Jukes in the first division of the Conditions Race. Boygojumping ridden by George Hiscock had outjumped his rival and looked the likely winner but Chasforgold does stay well and he responded to his rider’s urgings to get up on the line to win by a head. He is likely to stay point-to-pointing for at least most of the season.
The second division of the Conditions race was won impressively by the David Brace owned and trained Pink Eyed Pedro ridden by his promising grandson Connor Brace. Sired by the late Dr Massini who used to stand at Dunraven Stud out of a mare called Poacher’s Paddy David reported that the dam is in now in foal to his other stallion Mountain High. Pink Eyed Pedro always wears a hood to keep him calm and travels both to and from the races in it.
The Ladies race was a high quality event with Caid du Berlais stamping his class on the eleven strong field. Successful at the previous meeting this was a much stronger race with several of his rivals boasting wins in Hunter Chases and Steeplechases but the result was the same with the former Paddy Power Gold Cup winner outstaying Dabinett Moon and Dicky Bob. Trained by Rose Loxton at Ditcheat and ridden by Harriet Tucker who works for Paul Nicholls the nine year old has rekindled his enthusiasm for racing and being in a much smaller yard he is enjoying the change of routine. Rose does not know whether he might be returning back to the National Hunt yard but hopes not!
The first division of the Maiden was a maximum field of 18 horses and the youngest horse in the field came out on top. Tom Lacey often introduces a promising sort at this meeting and the vibes about Energumene proved correct with the gelding running out a two length winner under Tommie O’Brien. By the same stallion (Denham Red) as Un de Sceaux he was bought by Tom as a 3 year old at the Tattersalls Derby sale for 50K Euros. Only born on 13 June 2014 Tom described him as very straightforward to train and ‘as the nicest four year old I have trained to date’. It will be interesting to see if he heads for the sales or is kept in training by Tom.
The second division was split on the day but the first part of the race was declared void for safety reasons as there was an injured horse on the bend approaching the last fence. At the time before the race was abandoned Arcal Fifty ridden by Jamie Thomas and Swincombe Toby ridden by Lorcan Williams and trained by Sally Alner were duelling for the lead and would probably have fought out the finish.
The second part of the race proved to be the second winner on the day for Tom Lacey and his rider Tommie O’Brien with another newcomer Sebastopol. After Elizabeth’s Wish had fallen at the third last the winner and Three in One trained by Jade Barber had the race between them but the four year old pulled away on the run in to win by twelve lengths. Bought this time at the Goffs Landrover June sale for 52K Euros the dam Knockcroghery had won six races in total on the flat and over hurdles in a long career and this gelding is her first progeny. By Fame and Glory and this time born in May 2014 Tom described him as a ‘real athlete’ and another exciting prospect for the future.
The Mens Open race attracted another huge field of 19 horses with numerous previous winners in the line -up. Monsieur Gibraltar was fancied to follow up his success at the previous meeting but he could not cope with a resurgent Cousin Pete trained by Elizabeth ‘Dibby’ Brown and ridden by Nick Phillips. Unbeaten in point to points in 2016 and the winner of a Hunter Chase at Cheltenham in April of that year his form last season consisted on two non- completions and all was clearly not well. After much time and investigation an allergy to straw was found to be one factor and he now lives on shavings. Although he came back into work in August he has been living in a field up to Boxing Day to get the benefit of fresh air. Clearly back to his best on this evidence connections are considering a tilt at the Cheltenham Foxhunters for their home bred Kayf Tara gelding.
Another maximum field of 18 took part in the Restricted race and this time the judge could not separate Irish Legionnaire and The Well Road declaring it a dead heat at the winning post. The former owned by Mark Burton who missed the victory as he was in Shanghai was supplementing his win at the previous meeting. The latter owned by Clive Bennett and ridden by Sam Jukes was recording his first victory in England having been owned patiently by Clive for 3 years. Explaining that the horse had undergone a tie forward operation last year to improve his breathing his performance bodes well for the rest of the campaign.

There was a fairy-tale ending to the final race the Novice Riders Conditions when in a close finish between Real Milan, Tolkeins Tango and L’Eldorado the last named prevailed to give 24 year old Meisha Micklewright a first winner on her debut ride. Originally from near Tiverton Meisha is a vet student in London in her final three months and this was a dream come true for her. Usually ridden by Tom Chatfeild-Roberts the winner who is now 13 was considered a suitable ride for a novice and so it turned out to be. Trained by Chris Bealby at Grantham for owner John Chatfeild-Roberts it was Chris’s first visit to Larkhill since his days with Nicky Henderson back in 1981 and when asked what instructions he gave to Meisha on her ride it was ‘ to go and enjoy herself and remember to breathe’

Larkhill Racing Club preview
The first meeting of 2018 at Larkhill has been rewarded with a huge entry of 193 horses which has resulted in two of the six races being split at entry and the first race time has been brought forward to 11.00am. The going is currently reported as being good so there is a high expectation that there will be a large turn- out of runners on the day. The quality of the racing will be high with both Open races looking very competitive so if you are looking for somewhere to finally blow away the Christmas and New Year cobwebs then Salisbury Plain is just the place. Do make sure to wrap up warm as the weather can be challenging at Larkhill but access is good with plenty of room for parking and an excellent view of the racecourse from the car park.
The Club Conditions race which starts proceedings at 11.00am has already been divided into two races and on the basis of this season’s form Chasforgold a winner at Barbury Castle for Sam Jukes looks likely to be the one to support. Others to consider are the Philip Rowley trained Namako winner of three of his races last season, Flights who should come on for her run at Barbury Castle, Sonny the One trained by Will Biddick who was not disgraced at Wadebridge and Cousin Pete who on his best form from two seasons ago would be a leading player.
The second division of the Club Conditions race may go to Princely Player who only went down by a neck in a similar race at the last Larkhill meeting. As he was having his first race for nearly a year Karen Hobbs’s gelding is entitled to improve on that outing. Potential dangers are the veteran Colbert Station winner of five races when owned by J P McManus, Pink Eyed Pedro who will improve for his seasonal debut at Wadebridge, Templebraden who ran in Open races last season and Superior Fire who was very consistent last season.
The Ladies Open race sponsored by We Do Vans.Com could see an exciting race with the winner from the previous Larkhill meeting Caid du Berlais set to be opposed by course specialist Aikideau who will be ridden by new jockey Aine O’Connor for trainer Jade Barber. Added to the mix are the Cheltenham Hunter Chase winner Woodfleet, the prolific Dicky Bob who will be partnered by Jo Supple (nee Buck),  the Stratford Ladies Hunter Chase winner Dabinett Moon and the enigmatic  Sybarite as well as Big Casino who was third in the highly competitive Mixed Open at Barbury Castle. A race worth savouring Woodfleet is tentatively chosen to continue his upward curve.
The Open Maiden sponsored by Cottage Field Stables is the other race that has already been divided at entry. The first division may go to Danseur du Large already placed in two Maiden races this season for trainer Ed Walker but the sponsor’s entry of Energumene should be noted as the trainer does have a good record with newcomers. Others to consider are Toby Maguire placed fourth in an Irish Maiden and now with Charles Levinson, Oscars Cross a half-brother to the prolific Giles Cross and Troed Y Melin already placed in four Maiden races.
Division Two of the Maiden race features both of the runners up from the two Maiden races at the December meeting. Swincombe Toby from Sally Alner’s stable and Three in One from Jade Barber’s yard may fight out the finish between them with the former tipped to come out on top. However Sophie Lacey’s newcomer Sebastopol out of a six time winning mare may be the one to watch along with the ex- Dan Skelton trained Dragon De La Tour and the ex -Irish Marcle Ridge who finished second in his only start to date.
The Mens Open race sponsored by Southern Counties Auctioneers has attracted the biggest entry of 34 horses.  Another high quality race is promised here with the standout entries being the prolific Broken Eagle from Alan Hill’s yard, the very promising Facile Bien owned by Robert Waley-Cohen, the consistent Premier Portrait and the winner of last season’s Coronation Gold Cup Brackloon High.  Monsieur Gibraltar won well at the last meeting and may put his fitness to good use. Real Milan usually runs well at Larkhill and if Woodfleet opts for this race rather than the Ladies then the hint should be taken.
The Restricted race sponsored by Woolley and Wallis looks a difficult race to solve. Irish Legionnaire broke his Maiden status at the last meeting and should improve. Both Ka Maresco and Baltazar du Seuil won their last outings in 2017 at Kingston Blount and Upcott Cross respectively and are also on the upgrade. Vouvray won a point in Ireland in November 2016 before being sold very cheaply last August. Castle Cheetah had some good form when trained by Ben Pauling in 2016 but has not been seen since and Lively Article the winner of a Maiden at Brafield-on-the-Green both come into consideration. A chance is taken with the lightly raced Florella who was placed in two Restricted races last season for trainer Nick Pearce.
The Novice Riders race sponsored by Symonds and Sampson with Frome Livestock Auctioneers completes the day’s racing. Real Milan if bypassing the Mens Open looks one for the shortlist along with Top Chief who does well in these races, Creepy who won three races last season and the ex-Tim Underwood trained Too Late To Sell who won three races last season. Thereyarsee runs well at Larkhill and will have a new rider in Gordon Tracy who works for Jade Barber and this combination might be the answer to a tricky event.

Larkhill Racecourse is to be found 5m NW of Amesbury, Nr A303, A345 and A360 – Postcode SP4 8QT. First Race 11.00 am. Entry Costs £10 per person.
Hursley Hambledon review
Hursley Hambledon review
There was some really close finishes at the opening Wessex Point to Point meeting held at Larkhill last Sunday where the racing was of  a high standard and racegoers had the bonus of an extra race when the Maiden race had to be divided because the number of entries exceeded the safety factor. The highlights of the meeting were training doubles for Rose Loxton from Ditcheat and Richard Bandey from Tadley, a first training winner for Laura Bradley who is based at Bramdean and a riding double for jockey Martin ‘Fly’ McIntyre.
The meeting began with the combined Hursley Hambledon and New Forest Hunts race where Swallowshide ridden by Bradley Paris-Crofts for Brockenhurst trainer James Young looked to have the race in the bag having jumped the last better than his rival One More Tune and quickly established a clear lead on the run-in. However his stride shortened nearing the post and Rilly Goschen galvanised her ride One More Tune to get up to win the race by an official head. Rilly was scoring her 150 career winner overall including 19 victories under Rules in a long career which started at Cotley in May 1991 aboard E Zoe Mou for John Dufosee.
Celebrating in the winners enclosure afterwards trainer Laura Bradley originally from Portsmouth was saddling her first point-to-point runner having taken on the training of owner Julie Butler’s horses. Laura principally provides hirelings for hunting and hacking in the Alresford area.
Julie also from Alresford who is a well -known Farming and Equine specialist Chartered Accountant has long been a supporter of the Hursley Hambledon and she looks to have acquired a useful prospect in One More Tune. Bought at a recent Ascot sale whilst Julie was on her iPad he had good form for his previous stable so it was not a total surprise to see him win the race.
Rose Loxton sent out the winners of the two Open races with Caid du Berlais winning the Ladies race and Monsieur Gibraltar winning the Mens race. With principal rival Richmond unseating Lucy Turner at the third last Caid du Berlais strolled home to an easy victory to give his young pilot Harriet Tucker  her fourth career win and the first for Rose. The winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup in 2014 the horse had rather lost his way under rules and connections thought that a spell of point-to-pointing might rekindle his enthusiasm. Harriet who works for Paul Nicholls rides the gelding in her lunch break and described him as ‘very keen all the way round’ and ‘definitely the best horse she has sat on in a race’. A Hunter Chase campaign may be considered for him.
Monsieur Gibraltar ridden by usual rider Lorcan Williams stayed on well to beat another former Paul Nicholls inmate Keltus by two lengths in the Mens Open. Described by Rose as being ‘very laid back’ he is ridden in all his work by Lorcan with whom he has an excellent partnership. He is next likely to be seen in the opening Hunter Chase of the season at Taunton with the Aintree Foxhunters as a long term goal.
Ballycash was an easy winner for Caerphilly owner/trainer Emlyn Parry in the Restricted race partnered by Jordan Williams. Paying his first ever visit to Larkhill racecourse the 66 year old retired teacher explained that he does all of the work himself on the six year old Kalanisi gelding bought out of a selling hurdle in June at Ffos Las  when previously having been owned by Dai Walters. Emlyn did say that he had been to Larkhill once before as a teacher when he had brought a party of students to the military camp!
Martin McIntyre and trainer Richard Bandey then combined to win the next two races the first being Fortune Bound for Isle of Wight owner Anna Reed in the Club Members Conditions race. Described by his trainer as being ‘mentally better’ than last season he had a tussle with Princely Player ridden by Jake Bament on the run-in before winning by a neck. Having only won a Restricted race last season this was a step up for the winner and he ought to be able to follow up in an Intermediate race with the goal of the Intermediate Final at Cheltenham being on the radar.
Trainer and rider followed up in the first division of the Open Maiden when Irish Legionnaire also won by a neck over main rival Swincombe Toby ridden by Lorcan Williams. Placed on several occasions last season owner Mark Burton felt that his gelding deserved this success although his ideal trip is still one he is trying to work out. Another who has benefited from a good summer Mark explained that the gelding has bulked up and is now much stronger.

The final race of the day, the second division of the Maiden, was won by the unraced Coningsby owned and bred by Lady Cobham and trained by Sophie Lacey. After Gracious Prince had led the field for two miles the winner and the runner –up Three in One ridden by Gordon Treacy for trainer Jade Barber battled out the finish with a length separating them at the line. The winner who is a half -brother to Flights is the third generation that Lady Cobham has owned with his dam Motcombe winning two chases for Robert Alner and his grandam Cooks Lawn being placed in five hurdle races.

Next Larkhill meeting Sunday 7 January 2018 – 1 Race 12.00

The Avon Vale Races committee has launched an appeal to fund a race for former committee member and Point-to-Point rider James McNeile, who tragically died in a fall during this year’s race meeting on April 1 at Larkhill.
Led by James’s family and friends, the race will form an integral part of this popular race meeting that draws together the rural community in the Avon Vale country between Chippenham, Bath, Devizes and Trowbridge. The race will be aimed at Veteran and Novice riders. Next year’s Avon Vale Races takes place on Easter Saturday March 31.
In a unique funding mechanism, the race will be funded by encouraging members of the public or those wishing to support the event to become members of the James McNeile Fan Club, created to perpetuate James’s memory and celebrate his Corinthian attitude to participating in sport. Membership of the Club, to include newsletters and a draw for racing tickets, costs just £100.
“We’ve been very touched by the support of so many folk who turned out to celebrate James’s life at his funeral and thanksgiving services, and through a multitude of letters, texts and other remarks,” commented James’s brother Peter. “I hope this race will offer everyone a chance to remember James’s positive attitude to life in a way he too would appreciate. We hope to run the race for as long as there is appetite to do so.”
Jeremy Cottle, Chairman of the Avon Vale Races committee, added, “James was a keen supporter of the Avon Vale, and this is an excellent way to celebrate his contribution to the hunt, to the Point-to-Point and to the rural community he served. We look forward to welcoming loads of folk to Larkhill for a happy occasion next March.”
Contact: Peter McNeile (07850 091523)

Avon Vale Races is an annual Point-to-Point race meeting staged by the Avon Vale Hunt at Larkhill Racecourse, near Amesbury, Wiltshire.


Whilst the Packway at Larkhill is now open again, the entrance via the eastern end by what was the old Golf Range, is still not definite.  You CAN get in by car - although I would not advise it as the road is very very rough.  There is a weight limit on this road of 4.5 ton, which will be of no use to horse boxes - therefore please DO NOT attempt to get to the racecourse via this route.

My advice would be either:
To use the Western Entrance on the West end of the Packway.

To use the main track in from the tank crossing off the A345.  If you are unaware of this route please try the following:

On your satnav put in SP4 8AT - this will bring up my farm at Knighton.  Please do not follow it totally otherwise you will end up in my yard!!  You need to pass the end of my drive (on right) and approx 100-150 yards on there is a big tank crossing (marked with big metal poles with flourescent yellow tops.)  Turn LEFT there and just keep coming until you get to the racecourse.

See you all soon.