SATURDAY 24 APRIL 2004
by Peter Mansell
photos by Graham Fisher
Racegoers turned out in their thousands when the Berkeley
Point to Point was held under almost cloudless skies on Saturday afternoon.
The large crowd were treated to an excellent days racing, which included a
double for trainer James Richardson and wins for two Berkeley qualified
riders, Geoff Barfoot Saunt and Polly Gundry.
William Lionheart had been aimed at the Members Race all season but owner Nick Cook side-stepped the opportunity to partner the 10-year-old, but Geoff Barfoot Saunt proved an able deputy and this partnership scored a bloodless victory over Thyny Glen and Zingibar after their chief market rival Avec Plaisir had parted company with Anna Clifford three fences from home.
The Ladies attracted just 5 runners but despite its lack of quantity it provided a stirring finishing with just a short head separating Phar from Chance and Titus Bramble as they passed the judge. The favourite Norski Lad was never able to go the furious pace set by Titus Bramble and was pulled up soon after halfway. Katie Baimbridge’s mount was joined by Phar from Chance at the far end of the course and it then became a war of attrition all the way up the home straight. Phar from Chance held a slight lead at the last but it required all of Miss Gundrys strength to keep his head in front as they raced for the line. Trainer James Richardson is hoping that Phar from Chance’s connections will allow the horse to take his chance in the Gerrard Final at Huntingdon.
Richardson has an almost 50% strike rate and his winning total was enhanced after Lord of the Road had made an impressive racecourse debut in Division I of the Maiden. Richardson trains near Malborough, but the 5-year-old son of Gildoran was actually bred on his parent’s farm at Andoversford and carries the colours of the trainer’s grandfather Richard Fairbarns. Rider Stuart Morris reported that Lord of the Road just got better as the race went on and the looks destined for better things in the future.
Campden Carrig caused a major upset in the Mens Open; leading from start to finish and coming home 20 lengths clear of several more fancied rivals. David Pipe brought Vivid Imagination up from Somerset and the 5-year-old started favourite following 4 successive wins in the colours of owner David Johnson, but favourite backers knew their fate when Ashley Farrant was unseated at the 14th. The Campdonian and Well Ted got within striking distance of the leader three fences from home but the 9-year-old just stepped on the gas and was 20 lengths clear of the opposition at the post. The horses Bibury based owner John Phillips reported that the horse has really come to himself over the last fortnight and provided 22-year-old Nick Phillips with his fourth win after his long journey down from Newcastle University.
Two of the sports leading trainers made visits to the course. Richard Barber came up from Dorset with Lord Anner who took the Restricted under Ashley Farrant, while Caroline Bailey brought My Best Buddy down from the South Midlands to win the Intermediate under Rowan Cope.