It was a day that 20 year old Ed Doggrell will not forget in his riding career as he recorded his first ever treble as a jockey at the Portman point to point at Badbury Rings. A rather damp day was enlivened with some high class racing on ground which many riders described as perfect for jumping and although the crowd was down on the usual Portman attendance it was an excellent afternoon's racing. Other highlights included a riding double for Martin McIntyre and a training double for Sally Alner and an impressive debut of One Touch in the young Maiden race.
Blackwater Bramble bounced back to form when making virtually all the running to win the Intermediate race, the first race on the card. He did not enjoy the softer ground at Charlton Horethorne when pulling up in his Members race but this was more like the form he had shown when winning his Restricted at Milborne St Andrew. Given a very positive ride by Martin McIntyre he had four lengths in hand from Fortune Bound ridden by Bradley Gibbs who secured his place in the Intermediate Final at Cheltenham. Plans for the winner are not made as yet but Paul Barber part owner of the winner did say that he had made only periodic visits in the past to Badbury but recalled that his first ever winner came with Crazy Slave who won a race at the Wilton meeting in 1969 when ridden by Peter Southcombe.
Francesca Nimmo, paying her first ever visit to Badbury as a trainer , introduced a smart prospect in the shape of One Touch who won the 2 mile 5 furlongs Maiden race under James King. After Apple Mack had fallen at the third last the four year old Court Cave gelding held off the challenge of Enormouse ridden by Josh Newman. Bought by Francesca and her partner National Hunt jockey Charlie Poste in June last year in Ireland his future will be under Rules as he has already been sold to a patron of Michael Scudamore's stable and is likely to next be seen in a Bumper. Based near Stratford Francesca was very complimentary about the course and said that she will be making return visits to the track in the future.
Ed Doggrell secured the first of his three victories aboard the Mike Felton trained Bistouri D'Honore in the Novice Riders race. Deputising for the side-lined Harriet Tucker Ed held up his mount until approaching the second last and soon pulled six lengths clear of the runner up De Boitron ridden by Kiana James-Thomas. Explaining his performance when he was pulled up at Milborne trainer Mike Felton said that the softer ground was not to the gelding's liking and he had got his reins looped over his head. Ed who previously had ridden a winner for Stuart Penny in 2016 at Littlewindsor had opened his score for this season when winning in Ireland but this was his first English winner in 2018.
Winner number two for 2018 for Ed followed in the very next race when making virtually all of the running in the Mixed Open race aboard Tom Barton trained by Sally Alner. With usual rider Lorcan Williams riding at Exeter Ed proved to be an admirable replacement and Tom Barton responded with some great leaps and after being headed by Moscow Prices at the third last he rallied well under Ed's urgings to lead again on the run-in and secure a length and a half victory. Now a four time winner at Badbury this victory was particularly popular as one of the joint owners Annie Tory was due to celebrate her ninetieth birthday the next day.
One of the most impressive performances of the day came from Emperor Renard winning the Restricted race under Matt Hampton. Taking it up from stablemate Tackler at the fourteenth fence he maintained a strong gallop all the way to the line and gave trainer Marie McGuinness a one two in the race. Owned by David Churches the winning gelding was being seen on a course for the first time since March 2017 having had some health issues last November. Describing his winner as 'a horse that likes a bit of a fight' he will be one to follow for the rest of the season.
The first division of the Maiden race gave Martin McIntyre the second of his victories when partnering all the way winner Cona River for Ed and Claire Hitch. Although Country Legend chased the winner from the third last the winner still had six lengths in hand at the winning post. Acquired out of Jonjo O'Neill's stable the eight year old has taken his time to develop but this was a powerful front running performance and there should be more to come as this was only his sixth ever career race.
The second division of the Maiden gave champion jockey Will Biddick a welcome winner aboard Julian Selby's mare Who Told You trained by Ed Walker. Beating the only other finisher Truly Spoken ridden by Ed Doggrell by five lengths she was described by trainer's wife Polly Walker 'still only a baby 'and she gave Will instructions to ride her 'as if it was her first ever race' although she had finished second on her debut at Great Trethew. Bred by her owner Polly hopes that eventually he will breed from her and did add that she has her half-sister Quite Right in training in her National Hunt yard who she hopes might improve on her performances to date.
The final race, the Confined, saw Ed Doggrell bring up his first ever riding treble aboard the mare Flights trained by Sally Alner. Despite being headed after the fourteenth fence the mare stayed on resolutely to draw away on the flat from Danandy ridden by Nick Lawton. Ed who now is based in Ditcheat and works for Will Biddick comes from a well -known Dorset family and has been involved with pony club and hunting before starting his riding career as a 16 year old at Badbury Rings aboard Beside the Fire for his grandfather Peter Doggrell. His riding has much improved this season and he was a worthy winner of the Eric Dymott award for the leading Novice rider at Badbury Rings and Milborne St Andrew this season.