by Brian & Gill Armstrong

Ninety-three horses contested the seven races at the United Services Point-to-Point at Larkhill on Saturday. Highlights were a treble for trainer Richard Barber, a double for jockey Jim Jenkins, and a very comfortable success for Charlie Fox’s Red Brook Lad in the feature Coronation Gold Cup, a challenge cup first presented by HM The Queen at Larkhill in 1953.

Ray Geddes’ Norski Lad, pulled up at the Army, benefited from the application of blinkers and a tongue strap for an easy win in the opening United Services Club Members’ race under Ollie Ellwood. The Richard Barber-trained winner was left well clear when Puzzleman fell at the 11th, and went on to score by a distance from dead-heaters Alltime Dancer and Mr Smudge.

Division 1 of the Restricted was dominated by VWH-qualified horses when Mick Mackie and Jim Jenkins got up on the run-in to deny The Kings Fling and Alex Charles-Jones by a neck, with Love At Dawn back in third. Mick Mackie is owned and trained at Ewen near Cirencester by VWH secretary Scarlett Crew, who bought the horse out of Jelly Nolan’s stable at Doncaster Sales last August.

Alex Charles-Jones went one better in Division 2 when John Burbidge’s Mrs Be overtook Mr Banker at the last for a six length win. Mrs Be had shown consistent form last season including a good Larkhill second to Kingscliff, winner of the Hunter Chase at Wincanton on Thursday.

Red Brook Lad, a faller in Kingscliff’s Wincanton race, made ample amends by taking the feature Coronation Gold Cup under a patient ride from Nick Mitchell. Red Brook Lad settled beautifully for Nick before overtaking favourite Jabiru after the second last to win by 12 lengths with Fair Wind back in third. Red Brook Lad is owned and trained at Askerswell, near Bridport, by Charlie Fox, who will now aim the horse at another Hunter Chase.

The Intermediate went to the Richard Barber-trained Ease The Pressure, who led throughout the last mile to give owner, Ray Geddes, a double on the card and a third win inside 24 hours following Existential’s win at Newbury the previous day. Rider Christian Williams reported that Ease The Pressure would have preferred softer ground, but this looks a horse to follow throughout the season.

Both Divisions of the Open Maiden proved to be eventful. In Division One the Barber-trained Stavordale Lad exerted after the last under Jim Jenkins to defeat Eva So Charming after leaders, Duncliffe and Dragons Dream, had both departed three out. Stavordale Lad ran in Tim Chappell’s green, black and red Second Gurkha Rifles colours, also carried to victory in the 1999 Grand Military Gold Cup by Court Melody. 

The complexion of Division Two changed when leaders Shipley Mill and Elverlena fell at the last leaving Magnemite in front. However, Mister Swallow finished strongly under Michael Miller to beat Magnemite by 15 lengths with KJJimmy half-a-length back in third. Mister Swallow is owned and trained at Woolland by Michael’s father, Richard.

The next Wessex Area meeting is the South Dorset at Milborne St Andrew this Sunday, 16 February. First race: 12.00 noon.