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Combined Services at Larkhill
Sunday 18th February 2018
by Bob Bracher

The renewal of the feature race at the Combined Services meeting at Larkhill, the Coronation Gold Cup, produced a real family success for the Barlow family. Owned by Mark and his daughter-in-law Sarah and ridden by Mark's son Andrew Brackloon High was a very popular winner and followed up his victory in the same race his in 2017. This was the highlight of an excellent day's racing where the weather remained dry and a good crowd attended the Wiltshire point-to-point course where the going continued to be on the soft side of good. Other notable achievements were first point-to-point riding successes for Matthew Fielding and Gordon Treacy and a smart performance from the 4 year old gelding Interconnected in the Open Maiden race.

Adrenalin Flight provided Matthew Fielding with his first ever winner when winning the Conditions Race for Novice Riders. Biding his time at the rear of the ten strong field he gradually made progress to pass long- time leader Bridge End and had five lengths in hand at the winning post. Owned by Matthew's boss Seamus Mullins and trained by Sally Rawlins at Figheldean the gelding who won 4 steeplechases and 2 Hurdles when trained by Seamus provided his son James with his first winner last season. Matthew, 20, from Enford, joined Seamus's stable straight from school and paid tribute to him for teaching him all he knows about race riding and for allowing him to ride Adrenalin Flight. Sally was keen to give credit to Andy Dicks who rides him at home as well as riding out for Richard Hannon.

After supervising events at Ascot on Saturday Guy Henderson was in a different role at Larkhill when watching his and his wife's gelding It Has to Be ridden by their son Ed win the Restricted race. A previous winner this season at Wadebridge this was the horse's first visit to Larkhill but he was a comfortable six lengths winner. Ed who is currently studying law at Exeter does ride out at Paul Nicholls stable when time permits but leaves the work on the seven year old to his mother Sophie and Veronika Hicksova back at home in Dorset.

Alternatif provided Gordon Treacy with his first ever point-to-point winner although he has won two races under Rules. He joined Jade Barber's stable during the summer but has recently become a part-time work rider to give him other opportunities to ride for other stables and hopes that his Novice status will be used this season. The winner, bought from David Pipe's stable in 2017, joined Jade's yard at the beginning of the season and provided her with her second training victory of the season in the Conditions race. Owned by Peter Barfoot and Angela Cooper who were celebrating their first point-to-point winner Peter explained that he had played polo for over 25 years and was Chairman of Cowdray Park until a very serious accident eighteen months ago which curtailed that interest. Drawn to point-to-pointing as a means to keep a connection with horses he explained that his racing colours of bright yellow and green were related to the sweetcorn and other more exotic vegetable business which bears his name.

Brackloon High defied his thirteen years to defeat much younger rivals in the Coronation Gold Cup and to become the first horse to win this most prestigious race two years running since Dawn Street thirty years ago. Although Andrew Barlow put up two pounds overweight he had lost half a stone since his last ride on 27th January to get down to his minimum weight and was looking forward to another square meal. Tracking the leaders Mon Parrain and favourite Full Trottle he went to the front approaching the last and with a bold jump he looked to have the race won easily. However Andrew commented afterwards that he had hit the front too soon and the gelding had to be encouraged to hold off the renewed challenges of Mon Parrain and Thereyarsee. He added that 'this win means more to us than last year as the importance of the race and the magnificent trophy has now sunk in'

The Maiden race run over two and a half miles was an all the way success for Cool Valley ridden by Sam Davies-Thomas. Trained by Liz Harris at Waltham on the Wolds in Leicestershire and owned by Catherine Wood-Collins who sadly missed her first ever winner as an owner the nine year gelding had not been seen since May 2016 so this was a tremendous training performance. Bought from an advert on the Jumping for Fun website to go hunting this did not prove a success and a return to racing was suggested to Catherine. Tommy Morgan, partner of Liz, explained that the gelding had done a really good piece of work about six weeks ago and he told Sam that he thought he might have found another useful horse. Although it was a long way from their base the conditions of the race suited them perfectly and with stable star Lough Inch on board as a travelling companion the venture was certainly rewarded.

Interconnected provided owners Tom Lacey and Neil Griffith with a smooth victory in the concluding Open Maiden race ridden by Tommie O'Brien. The four year old took advantage of his weight concession to draw clear of his main pursuers Loodeen and Country Legend on the run in and showed an impressive turn of foot. Bought as a foal from his breeder Stephen Kemble in Ireland in 2014 by Neil Griffith who is better known for his horses that he runs under Rules such as Singlefarmpayment he had been pleasing connections with his work at home and made up for his fall at Thorpe at the end of January. He is most likely to be going to the sales at Cheltenham during the Festival.

Prior to the point-to-point racing the traditional King's Troop race was won by Gunner Laura Moon riding Lagertha. Laura, 20, from Wellington, Somerset was riding in her first King's Troop race and has been a Gunner for 3 years.

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