LOTUS Pond once more repaid his connections' faith with a convincing victory in the JM Finn & Co Mixed Open for the Tedworth Gold Cup at the Tedworth Hunt meeting at Barbury Racecourse, near Marlborough. The ten-year-old gelding, trained by Mickey Bowen at Haverfordwest, has had tendon trouble in the past. But here he added to a course and distance success and a win at Bangor-on-Dee this term by joining long-time leader Richmond at the second-last in the 3m 6f contest before powering away to score by three lengths under Peter Bryan. Mandy Bryan, the jockey's mother and wife of Willie, who owns the son of Beneficial in partnership with her father, David Smith, said, "It has taken a long time to get here. He struck into his leg at Chaddesley Corbett, so he was off for 18 months and we brought him back and then he banged the other leg. We used a machine from Canada called a 'leg saver'. He did a lot of slow work and he went from having no tendon to rejuvenating the tendon and you can see how sound he is. It is just fantastic. We have always believed in him, but it was just getting that out of him." Bowen said Lotus Pond may now head for the Lady Dudley Cup at Chaddesley Corbett on April 21.
Droitwich owner-trainer Max Young was all smiles after Rogue Diamond gave him his first winner when scoring on her debut in the 2m 4f Jockey Club and the Epicurean Open Maiden For Mares And Fillies. The victory looked unlikely as Zac Baker sat out at the back on the five-year-old daughter of Wareed while Night At Tara, Hello Jazz and Thirdtimeben vied for supremacy. But the complexion of the race changed rapidly as the leaders faded in the home straight and Rogue Diamond, who was acquired from Dave Shorey, from Fermoy in Ireland, took up the running at the last to record an eight-lengths verdict over Hello Jazz. Young, 27, had his first runner three years ago and was getting off the mark at the 20th attempt. "I am absolutely delighted," he said. "It was a bit squeaky going down the back, and I was not sure whether she would get there, but to be fair she couldn't have won any easier. She is a big mare and has muscled up well and done a lot of conditioning and I knew if she bobbed round she would be thereabouts." Young, who also rides out for Henry Oliver as well as training his own string of 12, added that he may send the half-sister of Quwetwo to the Aintree Sales this week. Baker added, "She has run a blinder and I hope she makes a lot of money because she's a nice horse."
Teresa Clark, who trains on the Quantock Hills near Bridgwater, got off the mark for the season when she combined with jockey Bryan Carver for a double courtesy of Mistress Massini and Willem. Carver sent Mistress Massini to the head of affairs after a circuit of the opening Simpsons Subaru Restricted Race, and the seven-year-old mare forged clear from the second-last to beat Arthur's Sixpence by eight lengths. The daughter of Dr Massini is leased by the Culverhills Racing Club and was returning to pointing, having won a Ludlow bumper when trained under rules by Clark's brother, Anthony Honeyball. Clark's partner, Jeremy Cosey, said, "She has been working well at home and we were quite hopeful. She did it very well."
Carver commented: "She jumped immaculately apart from one mistake at the second-last. Thankfully she got away with it and she should be a nice horse for the future."
Clark and Carver completed the double in the closing Prestat Chocolates and the Richard James Estate Agency Conditions Race when Willem overcame an error at the last fence to hold off Blazing Tom by a short head. The eight-year-old is owned by the Only Fools Buy Horses Partnership, and Cosey said: "He is a bit of an enigma. He has lots of ability and was previously at David Pipe's. He was recommended to us by Gerry Supple. Bryan said this course would suit him and he has done it well." The 20-year-old rider, who hails from Cork, added, "Every time I have ridden him now we have made a good partnership. That's two wins, a second and two thirds."
Teenage rider Sam Burton ended his wait for a first winner this season when Hawkhurst posted an impressive victory in the Pheasant Inn At Lambourn Six-Year-Olds And Over PPORA Club Members' Race for Veteran & Novice Riders. Having duelled with Tempelpirate and Phil York from six out, the 18-year-old sent Aston Rowant trainer Alan Hill's charge clear at the second-last to take the honours by 12 lengths. Burton said, "It was great and to ride a good horse like that is fantastic. Tempelpirate was a bit quicker through the air, but my horse was so game and found his stride coming round the home turn."
Hawkhurst, whom Hill owns with Keith Loads, from Thursford, near Fakenham, was recording his fourth win from his last five starts, having been bought through Tom Malone. Hill said, "We bought him on one condition - that he should not run under rules and he should go point-to-pointing. If he races like he did today I am not going to complain."
Troed Y Melin showed the benefit of a wind operation to gain a deserved first success for Devon handler Chris Honour in the 2m 4f Ramsbury Vodka Open Maiden For Four, Five And Six-Year-Olds. Runner-up on four of his previous seven starts, the son of Craigsteel, owned by the No Illusions Partnership, held a narrow advantage over Equus Dancer when the Bowen-trained debutant fell at the second-last, leaving Jamie Thomas's mount to come 12 lengths ahead of Order In Court. Honour, who is based at Ashburton, near Buckfastleigh, said, "He has not got the best of wind and we operated on that to try and help him. He is quite a highly-strung horse, but he has been ultra-consistent."
The meeting was preceded by two pony races, sponsored by Keyflow Feeds, with Jack Osborne, 13, from Chepstow, taking the first contest on Stretcholt Hermes by four lengths.
Charlie Sprake, 15, from Milborne Wick, near Sherborne, completed a hat-trick of wins this season on Goldwell's Gucci in the second race, with a half-length triumph.
Rounding off the afternoon was the William Bartholomew Party Organisers Tedworth Hunt Charity Race over 1m 2f on the Flat in aid of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance. Victory here went to Roxanne Bridgway, from Bargoed in south Wales, having her first ride on Berdini.