by Brian & Gill Armstrong

The first Point-to-Point meeting in the Wessex area, the Army, took place at Larkhill on Saturday, with 91 horses contesting the seven races. Highlights were a double for trainer Richard Barber and a comfortable win for Brian Kilpatrick's Horus in the Land Rover Men's Open.

The opening Army Saddle Club Members race went for the second year running to the Richard Barber-trained Ciara's Prince under Ollie Ellwood. Ciara's Prince led two out and ran on strongly to score by 12 lengths from Archie's Oats with Alltime Dancer a head away in third. Owner Ray Geddes reported that Ciara's Prince may now run in Ladies' Opens.

The Ladies' Open went to the Emily Jones-partnered Mine's A Gin who got up in the dying strides to short-head Caldamus, with favourite Spread The Word a head away in third. This was a double celebration for winning trainer Keith Cumings as daughter Jo had given birth to a baby girl, Isobel Jane, 48 hours earlier. Mine's A Gin is jointly owned by Exeter cloth merchant Richard Dunsford, who received the winning trophy on behalf of himself and brother Peter who was away on holiday in Antarctica.

A high quality field of 17 went to post for the Land Rover Men's Open, including Liverpool Foxhunters' winner Gunner Welburn and Cheltenham Festival winner Honey Mount. However, the race was won for the second year running by the David Pipe-trained seven year old Horus who jumped well for Ashley Farrant and forged clear from three out. Jill Miller's Miss O'Grady ran a fine race in second under Nick Mitchell, but was five lengths adrift, ahead of Supremism and Gunner Welburn. Horus will now run in a Hunter Chase and should be a leading candidate to bring the Cheltenham Foxhunters' Challenge Cup back
to the West Country if taking his chance in March. Gunner Welburn is likely to run next in a Haydock Hunter

Richard Barber completed his double when Working Lunch was an easy winner of Division 1 of the Open Maiden. Working Lunch is owned by Bill and Angela Dupont of Beaminster and was a seventh point-to-point winner for 20 year old Welshman Greg Richards who joined the Barber yard in October. Division 2 went to the Caroline Bailey-trained debutant Find Me Another who led five out for an impressive 20 length success under Rowan Cope. The winner was purchased in Ireland 18 months ago when owner Charles Dixey asked Stewart Campbell to "find me another" to replace his ill-fated Cheltenham Foxhunters' winner Castle Mane.

Division 1 of the Restricted went to Polar Rambler and Geoff Barfoot-Saunt who led at the 13th and held off Niloufer by five lengths with Native Spin in third. Eleven-year-old Polar Rambler has had various problems so this represented a fine training performance by Tim and Julie Long. Polar Rambler is owned by Kingston St Mary-based Ken and Sara Biggins who reported that their Escartefigue may run at the Tiverton on 3rd February. Division 2 went to Brian Gurney's Grafton-qualified Benova Boy who made much of the running under Paul Cowley. Benova Boy has benefited from a wind operation last year and was providing
Banbury-based Kim Gilmore with the perfect start to her training career.

The next Area meeting is the Royal Artillery at Larkhill on Saturday 26 January. First race 10.55 am.