SATURDAY 23 MARCH 2002
by Bob Bracher and Gill Armstrong
Badbury Rings hosted its second meeting of the season on Saturday when the Wilton Hunt held their Point-to-Point there. The excellent going attracted horses from all parts of the South of England and highlights of the meeting were wins for Hall's Mill and Mr Custard in the two Open races and a riding double for Michael Miller, who was recording his first victories of the season.
The opening Hunt Members' race was the first leg of Michael's brace of winners when he partnered Linda Syckelmoore's The Frosty Fox to an easy victory. Linda, who trains the horse at Fovant, said the application of blinkers had made all the difference, and he beat his two rivals with little trouble.
Galaxy Minstrel, owned by Eddie and Jean Monck from Henton in Oxfordshire and trained by Jenny Pidgeon, won the 5, 6 & 7yo Maiden race in good style. Jenny, a former successful rider at Badbury Rings, was saddling her first winner at the course, one of her favourites in the country. Galaxy Minstral, bought from Celia Raines in Yorkshire, had been trained by Richard Fahey but had only one run for him in a Bumper. Jockey Matt Baldock, riding his first winner at Badbury Rings, works for trainer Paul Webber.
The Men's Open was won comfortably by Hall's Mill under Alex Charles-Jones, who then raced off to Fontwell Park to partner Caldamus, who finished second in a Hunter Chase. Hall's Mill's next outing is likely to be in the Foxhunters at Aintree and owner Rupert Irving should enjoy the experience, as the horse jumped very well and proved a good winner of what appeared to be a competitive race.
The Novice Riders' race was the closest finish of the day with Caroline Tuffin riding her mother, Christine's, Out'N'About just beating Jim Jenkins on the favourite, Whispering Pines. Caroline, 21, is Joe Tizzard's girlfriend and the win should give Joe a fillip as he recovers from a serious fall at Hereford last week. Caroline, who is studying Sports Science at Exeter University, was riding her third ever winner, the previous two being on Blue Laws who is now retired at the family home at Sturminster Newton.
Mr Custard was a comfortable winner of the Gerrard Ladies' Open for her owner/trainer/rider Lucinda Sweeting. The horse is also next likely to be seen at the Foxhunters at Aintree. A tilt at the final of the Gerrard Championship might also be considered, but the going at Exeter in May will be crucial as to whether he takes part.
The Restricted race was won by Franklin's Best, ridden by Nick Mitchell for owner/trainer Graham Foot from Askerswell, near Bridport. The horse was an easy winner and partly made amends for the rather disappointing performance of his stablemate Askers Jack, who was pulled up in the Maiden race when well fancied.
Ballee Betty was a surprise winner of Division 1 of the Maiden race for owner Diana Burgess and trainer Bill Gould. The 12-year-old mare had been eventing and her jumping ability was put to good use when leaving her eight rivals in her wake. Diana is from Canada but for the past 10 years has been living at Appleshaw, near Andover, where Bill has set up his training establishment and now has a seven strong string.
Division 2 of the Maiden, saw a deserved victory for Millcroft Regatta, owned by headmaster Robert McKenzie Johnston and trained by Ali Tory at Witchampton. The horse, second in his last two starts, was a comfortable winner for Michael Miller and the winning owner, who teaches mathematics at Hanford School at Child Okeford, was congratulated by 10 of his pupils who had come along to offer support.