A large crowd enjoyed a pleasant dry afternoon at Larkhill when the Combined Services held their point to point. With the decision made to offer free admission this had some impact on the crowd but there were certainly many in attendance who were enjoying their first point to point. Despite concerns following the recent equine flu outbreak and the need for extra vaccinations before horses could run the six races still attracted 34 horses with some competitive racing. The highlights were a comprehensive win for Monsieur Gibraltar in the Coronation Gold Cup, a first win for rider Andy Llewellyn and a striking performance of Tea Clipper in the Restricted race.
Monsieur Gibraltar was much too good for his two rivals in the prestigious Coronation Gold Cup when again ridden by Harriet Tucker thus securing Harriet's first ever success in a Mixed Open race. Trained by Rose Loxton at Bruton the gelding was notching her first success in the Coronation Gold Cup with only her second ever runner. Now much recovered after her accident she did acknowledge the part her husband Sam has played in getting the gelding back into the rich vein of form he is currently enjoying as he rides him at home in all his work. The next likely outing may be in a Hunter Chase.
The other Wessex trained winner on the card was Robin De Boss, who ridden for the first time by George Hiscock, won the Conditions Race. Trained by Wincanton Racecourse Chairman Jo Hepburn he returned to the form which led to him winning four races last season and outstayed principal rival The Flying Doc by three lengths. Normally ridden by Jo's son Jamie he is recovering from damage to his ligaments and hopes that he might be able to resume the partnership later in the season. George proved a very able deputy despite having never sat on the horse before.
Andy Llewellyn will remember this meeting fondly as he secured his first riding success on only his second ride in the Novice Riders race aboard Network Rouge. Assistant to National Hunt trainer Oliver Sherwood Andy, 35, has come late to race riding and when asked about this he recalled lodging with former champion conditional jockey William Kennedy and decided he did not want to go through with the rigours of becoming a jockey and instead concentrate on training. However he decided this season to have a try at race riding and the former Kim Bailey gelding bought by Bart Ryan-Beswick last November at Ascot has proved to be an ideal schoolmaster.for him and he timed his challenge to perfection by catching Crown Theatre ridden by Elizabeth Knight on the run in.
Tea Clipper owned by Tom Lacey and trained by his wife Sophie was an impressive winner of the Restricted race. Only a four year old he was making his racecourse debut in the race as he was not eligible for either of the Maiden races on the card but defied the lack of experience to beat the game mare Country Legend ridden by Tom Bishop by five lengths. Bought by Tom at the Derby sales last year for 52K Euros he is related to a number of winners including the prolific Rathlin Rose and Rugged Jack and looks a natural for the transfer to National Hunt racing in the near future.
The Maiden race over 2miles 4 furlongs looked to be at the mercy of Ballyjim trained by Jade Barber and ridden by Martin McIntyre but with the winning post in sight he hung to the left and allowed Draft Pick ridden by Zac Baker to get up and win by a length and a half. The winner owned by Nick Jones and trained at Kinnersley by James Ridley had shown good form last season when trained by Tom Weston and in particular when runner up to Toby Maguire at Charlton Horethorne. Nick who is well known for the exploits of Real Milan who is now enjoying his retirement and the father of Jack who is assistant trainer to David Simcocks.
The concluding race, the Open Maiden race, was won in decisive fashion by Mankala owned and ridden by Nick Phillips and trained by Elizabeth'Dibby'Brown. An unlucky loser at the course at the Larkhill Racing Club meeting when unseating Nick at the second last he made no mistakes this time when beating Fleur Du Pommier and Montarlot who both ran promising races.. Mankala a lightly raced 9 year old who has suffered several injuries in his life is on permanent loan to Nick from Paul and Clare Rooney and if Dibby can keep him sound there should be more victories for him.