by Bob Bracher and Gill Armstrong

A large crowd enjoyed the Portman Hunt's annual Point-to-Point at Badbury Rings last Saturday, despite that, due to the lack of rain in recent days, the firm ground restricted the number of runners. The highlights of the meeting were a first ever victory for Lucy Fishenden and a training treble for local trainer John Dufosee.

John saddled Sue Woodhouse's Best Bitter in the opening race, the Confined Hunts, and may have been successful had it not been for the fact that the horse made a bad mistake at the sixteenth fence which rider Nick Mitchell did well to survive.  This then left the race at the mercy of Susie's Melody, who provided Guy Weatherley with his second ever career victory. The winner, who is trained by Kate Buckett at Upham, is owned by Anna Reed and was following up on his previous course triumph in February.

The script could not have been better written for Lucy Fishenden when, making her first ever venture into race riding in the Hunt race, she rode a good race aboard Ali Tory's Willie Makeit to defeat Nick Mitchell riding Inforapop. Lucy, 21, hails from Sturminster Newton and has been working at Ali Tory's stable for two seasons.  She is looking forward to riding as a novice rider for the stable next season and hopes that Ali will keep Willie Makeit in training for her.  In the meantime Ali plans to run the horse, which she was given by the Not So Blonde Partnership, in the West Country Hunterchase Final at Wincanton on 10th May.

The third race, the Maiden race for 5, 6 & 7 year olds, resulted in a walkover for Indian Muse owned by Pat Awdry, trained by John Dufosee and ridden by Mark Shears.  John then quickly followed up when Badger Beer, owned by Sue Woodhouse and ridden by Nick Mitchell, won the Mixed Open race. Lord Max, who was Badger Beer's main rival, was still in contention when falling heavily at the sixteenth fence but his departure allowed Badger Beer to come home virtually solo. Badger Beer's planned next outing will be in a Hunterchase at the evening meeting at Cheltenham on 1st May.

James Richardson, the rider of Lord Max, had the consolation of collecting the Eric Dymott Memorial Trophy for the most successful Novice Rider at Badbury Rings for the three meetings and, unless he rides two more winners before the start of next season, he plans to be back to reclaim the Trophy in 2003.

There were no declared horses for the fifth race, the Restricted, but a field of seven took part in the final event, the Maiden race for eight year olds and upwards.  Nice Approach, who has been placed second five times in point-to-points or Hunter Chases, finally broke his duck when completing the treble for trainer John Dufosee.  The horse is a full brother to the Whitbread Gold Cup winner Harwell Lad.  His rider, Jamie Snowden, an officer cadet at Sandhurst, was off to Italy the next day to do venture training.