The 14th Regiment Royal Artillery staged the final Point-to-Point in the Wessex Area 2002 season at Larkhill Racecourse on Salisbury Plain on Wednesday evening (29th May). Highlights were a double for rider Dominic Alers-Hankey and an exciting finish to the Mixed Open.
The opening Ablington Challenge race, a 1½ mile charity flat race staged in aid of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance Appeal, went to Storm Cry, who forged well clear in the straight under Compton Martin farmer-turned-airline-pilot Tony Harris, who last rode in point-to-points in 1998 but may make a come-back next season to ride his Miss Biddy. Storm Cry is trained at Wells by Malcolm Saunders, who owns the horse in partnership with IT specialist Brian McFadzean.
The 12-runner Restricted went to Mac Five who stayed on strongly under Dominic Alers-Hankey to catch long-time leader Quit the Creek on the run-in. Mac Five who benefited from the good ground, is owned by Martin Holland and Hugh Davies but ran in the colours of West Bagborough trainer Sue Popham who reported that the horse may run under Rules next season.
The Confined went to Members Cruise who made virtually all under 25-year-old Tor Sturgis, riding for the first time since breaking her collar bone when Members Cruise was brought down at the South & West Wilts. Members Cruise is owned by octogenarian retired farmer Eric Smith of Clyffe Pypard and was a first ever winner for trainers Richard and Gill Bryan, also from Clyffe Pypard.
Lord Philip comfortably held only other finisher Enoch to take the 5, 6 and 7 year old Open Maiden in the hands of owner/trainer Godfrey Maundrell. Lord Philip was purchased privately from Jim Old 12 months ago and is one of seven horses trained by Godfrey at his Marlborough stables.
There was a close finish to the Mixed Open when 17-year-old Granville Grill and Tor Strugis were caught in the last two strides by Springford and Dominic Alers-Hankey, with favourite Lankridge a further neck away in third. Granville Grill, unfortunately disqualified at the South & West Wilts and running probably his last race, would have been an enormously popular winner, but credit must go to Springford, also unlucky on several occasions this season. Springford is owned by Bristol company director Michael O'Connor and is one of two horses trained by Caroline Keevil from her livery yard near the old Castle of Comfort course.
Gami and Rilly Goschen headed long time leader Can't Be Scrabble at the last to take the Open Maiden and provide hospitalised Seaton joint owner Martin Salter with a welcome boost. Gami is trained at Forton by Philip Greenwood who bought the horse privately two years ago from Phillip Hobbs on behalf of Salter and Jacqui McCullough. Philip was keen to credit Richard Woollacott for the work he has done schooling the horse this season.
The Intermediate went to Susies Melody and Guy Weatherley who led off the final bend to give Upham trainer Kate Buckett a winner with her last runner of the season. Susies Melody is owned by Anna Reed from Newport, Isle of Wight who bought the horse privately from Dan Dennis three years ago.