An exciting day's racing took place at Larkhill on Saturday when the Royal Artillery held their annual meeting. The mist enveloping the course cleared just in time for the first race and a dry afternoon was enjoyed by racegoers. The highlights were another gutsy win for Alskamatic and doubles for riders Stan Sheppard and Zak Baker and keepers Sally Alner and John Bryan.
Impact Area duly obliged in the opening race, the Hunt Members, winning by an eased down margin of two lengths from his sole rival, Delineate. This was the fourth year in succession that owner Harriet Waight has won this race. His next intended outing will be a Hunter Chase at Wincanton in two weeks' time where his rider, Louis Muspratt, will be hoping for more success.
Thereyarsee had a good battle with Swincombe Scorchio before prevailing by three lengths to give Stan Sheppard and Sally Alner the first leg of their double when winning the Maiden. An encouraging third on his seasonal debut and running well when falling at the last Larkhill meeting, Bill Dupont's gelding led from the 14th fence and held off the effort of the Will Biddick-ridden runner-up. Bill explained that Robert Alner had bought the horse as a store and had offered the horse to him. There is also an Alner connection with the runner-up, as Robert trained the dam, Lady Felix, to win four hurdle races – he should be winning soon based on this effort.
Alskamatic followed up his previous win at Larkhill by making all under Claire Hart to win the Ladies Open. Despite the efforts of his 11 rivals, none of them could get close, with Loch Ard, his nearest pursuer, falling at the penultimate fence. Seigneur Des Bois stayed on well to be second under Aly Stirling but could not trouble the winner.
There was a dramatic finish to the Club Members Conditions Race when Storm Lantern, ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen, fell at the last fence, leaving Man Of Steel, ridden by Joe Hill, in the lead. Halfway up the run-in the leader jinked slightly to the left and Joe was unseated. Meanwhile, Garstin, who had been running prominently until rooting the second last fence, had been rousted along by Stan Sheppard, got back into the race and forged clear to win by four lengths. The Sally Alner-trained gelding was wearing blinkers for the first time this season and this did seem to make a difference to him. His group of owners Nicky Turner, Percy and Anne Tory, John Henry Smith and his wife Mary, were keen to pay tribute to the training skills of Sally Alner, whose horses are in good form.
Ghizao was a short price favourite to win the Mens Open under Will Biddick, but was well beaten in third. The winner, Templebraden, who fell at the last fence at the previous Larkhill meeting, ran out a comfortable winner to give Zak Baker and John Bryan the first leg of their double. Owned by Londoner, Jack McGrath, the horse had won a Hurdle race at Southwell when trained by Henry Oliver and was giving both his owner and rider their first success at Larkhill. He may attempt a Hunter Chase campaign.
The final race, the Intermediate, proved to be as incident packed as the Club Members Conditions Race. Mr Simpkins who had raced prominently throughout under Sam Waley-Cohen and You Too Pet, ridden by Tom David, had drawn away from their rivals after the second last and appeared to have the race between them, although Green Winter was staying on well. You Too Pet unseated his rider at the final fence and with Mr Simpkins capsizing at the same fence Green Winter was left in front. Behind him Tackler was badly hampered and unseated Martin McIntyre, whereas Only Time'll Tell partnered by Will Hickman fell independently. The winner, who had run well on his previous visit to Larkhill, is owned by Sarah Oliver, Chief Executive of the Amateur Jockey Association and her friend Sharon Wilson, partner of Jack McGrath the owner of Templebraden. Both ladies were recording their first victories at Larkhill. John Bryan, paying a rare visit to Larkhill from his Cradley, Worcestershire base clearly has his team in good form and Zak Baker proved a good substitute for usual rider Peter Bryan in securing his double.
Hunt Members (2 ran)
1 Impact Area (IRE) 1/8 (L Muspratt; 2 Delineate (IRE) 5/1 (Z Baker). 6mins 37s. 2l. (Harriet Waight)
Open Maiden 5yo&up (14 ran)
1 Thereyarsee (GB) 2/1 (Stan Sheppard); 2 Swincombe Scorchio (GB) 7/2 (W Biddick); 3 Dan's Wee Man (GB) 8/1 (G Disney). 6mins 25s. 3l, 20l. (Sally Alner)
Ladies Open (12 ran)
1 Alskamatic (GB) evens (Miss C Hart); 2 Seigneur Des Bois (FR) 16/1 (Miss A Stirling); 3 Master Medic (IRE) 16/1 (Miss N Parker). 6mins 23s. 4l, 6l. (Richard Bandey)
RAH Club Members Conditions 5yo&up (10 ran)
1 Garstin (IRE) 8/1 (Stan Sheppard); 2 Carrigkerry (IRE) 25/1(Miss P Fuller); 3 Arthurian Legend (GB) 5/1 (Z Baker). 6mins 30s. 4l, ½l. (Sally Alner)
Mens Open (5 ran)
1 Templebraden (IRE) 4/1 (Z Baker); 2 Real Milan (IRE) 10/1 (Jack Jones); 3 Ghizao (GER) 1/4
(W Biddick). 6mins 26s. 10l, 12l. (John Bryan)
Intermediate (14 ran)
1 Green Winter (IRE) 10/1 (Z Baker); 2 The Governor (IRE) 20/1 (Miss K Lyons); 3 Turtle Boys (IRE) 25/1 (L Muspratt). 6mins 27s. Dist, 1l. (John Bryan)