SATURDAY 12 APRIL 2003
by Brian & Gill Armstrong
The decision to water the Point-to-Point course at Badbury
Rings, near Wimborne, for the first time proved a triumph for all
concerned as not only did a large crowd attend the annual running of the
Portman Hunt meeting but also competitive racing was enjoyed by racegoers.
The highlights of the six race card were the success of Woodlands Beau in
the Mixed Open race and a first riding double for Ryan Bliss in the final
The meeting began with a triumph for Susieís Melody ridden
by Guy Weatherley in the Confined Hunts race. This was trainer Kate
Buckettís first winner of the season from a much-reduced stable from
last season. Guy, who was enjoying his fifth career success, rides out for
licensed trainer Brendan Powell at Upham near Winchester. Guy received the
Eric Dymott Novice Riders Trophy later in the afternoon for being the
leading Novice Rider at the three meetings held at Badbury Rings.
Badger Beer was a popular winner for local owner and
supporter of point to point racing Sue Woodhouse in the Portman Hunt race.
Nick Mitchell, the successful rider, followed a course on the inner where
the going was firmer as the horse prefers much faster ground than the
majority of his rivals.
The Novice Riders race resulted in a victory for Oscar Wilde
ridden by Dan Drake for owner Robert Alner. He survived some jumping
errors particularly at the open ditch and then had to await the outcome of
an objection by the second horse Primero ridden by Tim Eades for taking
his ground after the last fence. The stewards overruled the objection and
retained the runner-up riderís deposit.
The Mixed Open was won in good style by Woodlands Beau, who
saw off his main rival, Hallís Mill, with some ease to give rider Nick
Mitchell a riding double on the day. The horse is leased by local owner
David Briers to Club Ten and, like Oscar Wilde, is trained by Sally Alner.
The Restricted race was the first leg of Ryan Blissís first
ever career double aboard Neil Thomasí The Chain Gang. Neil, who hails
from Stanford in the Vale in Oxfordshire, was given the horse last year by
owner/breeder Pam Froud as he used to look after him. The horse was
following up his initial victory at Kimble last month and has considerably
improved, mainly due to better jumping.
Ryan completed his double aboard Hill Trail, which he partly owns with his grandmother, Enid Wicheard, and friends Rick and Caroline Ellinger. He bought the eight year old for 1700 guineas at the Ascot Sales in 2001 and the horse, who had had a wind operation since he last ran, looks the type to progress further judged on this performance. Hill Trail is a half brother to Grand National winner Earth Summit and numerous other winners in the family. Ryan, 20, trains the horse at Ditcheat near Castle Cary and currently works for Guy Landau. He had his first winner at Badbury Rings in 2000 aboard Dantes Gold and this was his fourth ever career success.