SATURDAY 31 JANUARY 2004
by Brian & Gill Armstrong
Photos by Mike Chown
Sixty seven horses contested the seven races at the Royal Artillery meeting at rain-swept Larkhill on Saturday. Highlights were doubles for riders Polly Gundry and Daryl Jacob and for trainer Sally Alner, while Aberfoyle Park was an impressive winner of the Men’s Open.
The opening King’s Troop RHA Members race went to Captain Neil Cross’ Capriole, who regained the lead after the last to repeat his 2002 victory. This was a first-ever winner from just two rides for Sgt James Grantham, 28, who has served in the King’s Troop for eight years.
The Hunt Members’ race went to Carrington House who was left in front when long-time leader Flora MacDonald unseated Harry Wallace at the last. Carrington House is one of the three point-to-pointers trained by owner Jane Bailey at Lake, just three miles from the Larkhill course, and was a third career win for 27-year-old rider Jack O’Rourke who works in Simon Earle’s Marlborough yard.
Polly Gundry’s double came in the two Divisions of the Open Maiden race. In Division One, the Richard Barber-trained Spanish Dolphin pulled his way to the front at halfway and held the strong challenge of Trumper and Philip York on the run-in. Spanish Dolphin was bought by Beaminster owner Bill Dupont at Doncaster Sales last summer.
Division Two went to Vinnie Boy who headed Court Adjourn at the last for a one length win. Fivehead owner John Burbidge was keen to credit trainer Ollie Bush for all the work she has done with the horse, who has been off the course since finishing third at Vauterhill in May 2002. Vinnie Boy is a full-brother to Bannagh Mor who won six races for John in the 1990s.
There was a close finish to the Ladies’ Open when Sir D’Orton got the verdict after a sustained duel with favourite Tales Of Bounty. This was a first winner of the season for rider Charlotte Tizzard whose father Alan trains Sir D’Orton at his Milborne Port stables, and was a well deserved success for retired East Coker farmers Bob and Sue Richards who bought the horse out of Paul Nicholls’ yard last summer. Sir D’Orton is likely to be aimed at Ladies’ races throughout the rest of the season.
The Men’s Open was won by the Sally Alner-trained Aberfoyle Park who forged well clear under Daryl Jacob for a very comfortable 20 length success after the challenging Right To Reply blundered and unseated Neil Harris three out. Aberfoyle Park ran in the Kingscliff colours of North Petherton owner Arnie Sendell, who jointly owns the horse with Langer Sutopo who works in Tim Collins’ Bridgwater eventing yard.
The Alner-Jacob double was completed in the closing Intermediate race when Kingston-Banker was prominent throughout and held the persistent challenge of Live Wire and Philip Yorke by four lengths. Kingston-Banker derives his name from retired Winterborne Kingston bank manager Harry Wellstead who jointly owns the horse with retired octogenarian Pilton farmer Harold Butt, a long standing patron of the Alner point-to-point yard.
The next Wessex Area meeting is the United Services at Larkhill on Saturday, 7 February. First race 12.30pm.