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Combined Services at Larkhill
Sunday 19th February 2017
by Bob Bracher

A very competitive day's racing was the feature of the Combined Services point-to-point at Larkhill with the highlight being Brackloon High proving a surprise winner in the Coronation Gold Cup for owner Mark Barlow and his son and rider Andrew Barlow who beat much fancied rivals. Elsewhere it was a day for visitors to Larkhill from outside the Wessex area who took the spoils on the day with wins for the Fred Hutsby stable, Emma Alvis yard, Tim Underwood and Sophie Lacey who introduced a promising 4 year old in the shape of Sky Pirate. An excellent turnout of 57 horses contested the 6 races on a dry afternoon supported by a good crowd.

Although there were only 7 runners for the Coronation Gold Cup a case for most of the participants could be made with Aikideau a warm order to follow up on his three previous victories this season at Larkhill. However it was not to be the favourite's day and he never really threatened and finished fifth of the six finishers. Real Milan ridden by Jack Jones looked the winner turning into the home straight but Andrew Barlow got a tremendous leap from his mount Brackloon High at the last and finishing with the real flourish swept by Real Milan to win going away by two lengths. Owner Mark Barlow had hoped for a place finish at best so this success was a pleasant surprise to him. Andrew who will celebrate his 45th birthday later this year, has had in his words 'an on and off point –to-point career' and had enjoyed success as a polo player in the past.

The meeting began with a welcome winner for the Fred Hutsby stable when Sam Lee riding Superior Fire stayed on well to beat Quedillac ridden by Tom Doggrell in the Novice Rider Conditions Race. Owned by his father Ken, Fred holds Superior Fire in high regard and thought that this race would be ideal for the progressive seven year old. Sam Lee who works as a dairy farmer near Towcester racecourse rides out three times a week at the Hutsby stable and was recording his third ever career win.

A very competitive thirteen runner Restricted race followed with the race over the final two fences being between Passage East, Chester Copperpot ridden by Katy Lyons and Teeton Kato. Chester Copperpot made an error at that fence causing Katy to be unseated and left Passage East ridden by Sam Jukes to hold off the challenge of Teeton Kato by one and half lengths. Owned and bred by Clive Bennett and trained by Emma Alvis the Presenting grey gelding is a fourth generation for the Bennett family with his dam Greensleeves having won 5 point-to-point races. He looks one to keep on the right side of in the future.

The Club Members Conditions race turned into a duel between Too Late to Sell ridden by Katy Lyons and the favourite Thereyarsee ridden by Lorcan Williams with the former prevailing by three lengths. Owned and trained by Tim Underwood the gelding was a close fourth on his last appearance at Larkhill and readily showed that was no fluke when winning this race. Bought privately by his owner in Ireland from Martin Oliver his claim to fame prior to this success was winning the Conyngham Cup at Punchestown in January 2014. His owner joked that 'he does not like to go far to get beaten and limits this to 45 minutes from his home base' but on this occasion he need not have worried.

The Maiden Conditions race was won comfortably by Give Us Peace trained by Teresa Clark and ridden by Martin McIntyre. Bought by Teresa at the Ascot May sales last year for £1400 from David Kemp she described her charge as a very nervous animal when he first arrived at her yard but the application of a hood helped along with a spell of hunting has transformed him. Owned by the Culverwells Racing Club there were only two of the owners present as the remaining four owners had decided to attend the Devon and Cornwall meeting at Buckfastleigh.

The final race of the day, the Open Maiden race, saw an impressive debut for the four year old Sky Pirate trained by Sophie Lacey and ridden by Tommie O'Brien. Tracking the leaders most of the way he took it up from the long-time leader Flying Bandit approaching the last and drew away to win by five lengths. Tom Lacey explained that he had bought the gelding at the Derby sales last June for £34,000 and holds the gelding in high regard. His dam Dancingwithbubbles won 2 bumpers and a hurdle when trained by Alan King. His next likely outing will be at the sales and hopes that there will be much interest in the gelding.

Earlier in the day a dramatic King's Troop race was won by first time rider Gunner Alice Dunn aboard Cheroot who narrowly beat the only other finisher Burlington ridden by Lance Bombardier Grace Gostelow by a neck.

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