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South & West Wilts at Larkhill
Saturday 21st April 2018
by Bob Bracher

Spring arrived at Larkhill and a good crowd enjoyed some fine warm weather at the South and West Wilts point-to-point. On going described officially at good, good to firm in places the meeting was dominated by champion jockey Will Biddick who rode three winners and Martin McIntyre who rode a double. At the other end of the spectrum Hollie Greene rode her first ever winner in her first season of riding in point-to-points

Martin began the day by steering the ever popular Trueflyingcolours to a five length victory in the Hunt race over his only rival Thepremierbroker ridden by Lorcan Williams. Recording his fourth career win at Larkhill on a surface he would much prefer the gelding was giving trainer Stuart Penny a belated first winner of the season. Assistant trainer Teona Hammond dedicated the victory to the memory of Brian Young who had been a staunch supporter of Stuart's stable over many years. She added that to keep the horse's interest (this was his 40th career race) he has been doing a variety of activities including leading the ponies and jumping logs in the woods.

An eventful Maiden race followed with only five of the twelve starters finishing the race. Sinour ridden by Rilly Goschen established a clear lead for much of the race but appeared to be weakening when falling at the third last. This left the slow starting Foxworthy who had been making steady headway clear and he maintained a commanding advantage all the way to the line in the hands of Will Biddick. Bred by owner Richard Kelvin-Hughes out a useful mare called Candy Creek the imposing gelding had shown promise on his debut three weeks and would have been closer to the winner that day except for a bad blunder at the third last. A late developing six year old he should go on to better things.

Subtle Sovereign on his belated seasonal debut showed his love for Larkhill to be undiminished when scoring for the seventh time at the Wiltshire course when winning the Ladies race under Lucy Mager. Owned by the nine strong Notre Cheval Partnership and trained by Teresa Clark the gelding had been an intended runner in his Hunt race at Kingston St Mary but when that meeting was called off this race on ground that he would prefer was chosen. He was followed home by Bedrock Fred ridden for the first time by Aine O'Connor who made a miraculous recovery from a bad mistake at the third fence.

Will Biddick notched up another winner when taking the Mens Open race on board Richard Kelvin-Hughes's Different Gravey trained by Ed Walker. Previously a high class horse when trained by Nicky Henderson he had rather lost his way under Rules but a spell of hunting with Polly Walker and a different environment has transformed him back into a confident individual. He held off the challenge of Bistouri D'Honore ridden by Ed Doggrell by three lengths with another ten lengths back to Sidbury Hill. There are no firm plans for the winner but Richard hopes that they might be able to get another run into him before the season ends.

Will's treble came courtesy of Sixteen Letters in the young Maiden race. Facing only one opponent who unseated her rider at the eighth fence this was a bloodless victory. Previously owned by the late Richard Woollacott owner John Symes was persuaded by Richard to buy him as both of the horses John ran last season had been retired. John revealed that this was the first time Will had ever ridden for him and quipped that 'it was probably because he had not had anything good enough for Will to ride in the past' There was another connection with the Biddick family in that John had bought one of his best horses Whizzaar from Will's father Mike after that gelding had fallen at Lifton in 2005 and then went on to win ten point-to-points and four Hunter Chases.

There was a dramatic finish to the Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate race with Blue Benny and Whatastormnorm flashing past the post together. After a brief delay the judge decided he could not split them and awarded a dead heat between them. This gave 17 year old Hollie Greene her first ever winner on her grandmother Jill Miller's Blue Benny. Trained earlier in the season by Michael Miller he was transferred to neighbour Lucy Felton who has been riding him at home as Hollie is still at school in North London and had not sat on him for a couple of weeks. Described by Lucy as 'a real dude' and a pleasure to train Blue Benny had run a good race at Milborne last month when finishing fourth. Whatastormnorm gave Ella Pickard a change in fortune when giving her the first winner of this season from the five horses she trains from her home base. Owned by her younger sister Ruby he was previously owned by Norman Chanin and had won at Great Trethew in 2016. Ella works for National Hunt trainer Jeremy Scott as well as looking after her point-to-pointers.

Martin McIntyre completed his double aboard Godfrey Maundrell's Delineate in the Restricted race. Normally ridden by Zak Baker he had been booked to ride in the Scottish Grand National and put forward Martin for the ride on Delineate. When his intended mount at Ayr was withdrawn he found himself available to ride and ironically had a ride in the race Castle Cheetah who fell at the second fence. Delineate had previously won the Hunt race at the Royal Artillery meeting and showed her liking for Larkhill by gamely holding off the challenge of Doctor's Differ ridden by George Hiscock. Riding for Godfrey for the first time Martin showed his strength in a finish and had four lengths to spare at the finish.

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