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 15th fence he drew further clear from his rivals and after a spectacular leap at the 2nd 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.