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Weston & Banwell
Wednesday 18th May 2011
by Brian & Gill Armstrong

Findlay's Find moved to the top of the National Young Horse table by taking the Weston & Banwell Ladies' Open at Cothelstone on Wednesday evening. The five-year-old, who has now won six point-to-points this season, was always prominent and sprinted clear when Claire Hart pressed the button after the third last. "He was awesome and is certainly the best I've ever sat on", beamed Claire. "He's a very well bred flat horse, in fact bred to win the Derby, so he naturally loves this fast ground", added Paul and Myfanwy Miles, whose prolific Lady Myfanwy took the 2007 and 2008 National Young Horse titles.

Axminster farmer Gordon Herrod opened his 2011 account with his Will White-partnered Restricted winner Mullins Mill, who got the better of a sustained duel with Basil Warren's Party Pictures. "He's a gentleman at home and easy to ride out, but this top of the ground surface is the key on the racecourse", said Cotley whipper-in Gordon, who bought the ex-Irish maiden winner at Ascot 11 months ago.

Robbie Henderson maintained his lead in the Wessex Area Men's List on Confined winner Merry Terry. "I spent four years as a pupil assistant to the late Capt Tim Forster and I hope Merry Terry can now win the race staged at Bratton Down in his honour", said Richard Dimond, who owns and trains the grey with his wife Ruth at Sherborne.

Will Biddick pulled one back on Richard Burton and Phillip York in the National standings on winning debutant King Of Alcatraz in the Maiden. "Neil Harris bought him in Ireland and passed him on to me", explained South Molton owner-trainer Roy Smith. "He's difficult at home, mind you – I've never fallen off a horse so many times in my life".

Phillip York's hopes of a winner were dashed when his only mount of the evening, Sesame Rambler, faded behind Johnny's Way in the Men's Open. The win left connections mulling over a crack at Stratford's John Corbet Cup on 27 May. "Johnny's Way can get low at one or two fences, but he's very quick over them and he's certainly good enough, although it's a big step up", felt jockey Richard Woollacott, trying to weigh up options with owners John and Greer Norman and Graham Foot.

Rowdy Yeats collared Roll On Rose after the last to land the Novice Riders race for owner-rider Harry Marriott and Nicholas The Spark repeated his 2010 Hunt race success under Jack Barber, although a tendency to jump to his left and a hesitation on the stable bend at the start of the final circuit, caused some alarm for odds-on backers.

Merryment Topcat held on under Hattie Heal in a driving finish for the 2011 Wessex Area Novice 138cm Pony Race Final and Christopher Gregory donned his grandfather Richard Barber's colours for an all the way win in the 148cm contest on his mother Charlotte's Chucka.

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