Gone To Lunch, who narrowly survived a near-fatal respiratory illness last summer, won a thrilling Coronation Gold Cup at Larkhill on Saturday. Sam Waley-Cohen set a fast pace on Otage De Brion, before being passed by the Mark Wall-partnered Divine Intavention, who had been backed from 16/1 to 3/1, and Gone To Lunch on the final climb. The pair had the race between them until Gone To Lunch finally battled his way to the front approaching the last. A first Coronation Cup winner for jockey Neil Harris, trainer Camilla Scott and owner Gary Lever after several near-misses, Gone To Lunch now heads to Cheltenham for the Christie's Foxhunter on 18 March.
Description, who overturned favourite Theatre Diva at Larkhill's January meeting, confirmed the placings in the Ladies Open. Jo Buck looked to have made the decisive move when forcing Theatre Diva through on the inside entering the straight, but Description and Camilla Ewart easily reasserted after the two horses had jumped the last upsides.
Two other horses followed up their January course successes. Marianne Barber's Dualla Lord cruised home in the Novice Riders' race after Harry Derham did well to survive the grey's last fence blunder. Mr Melodious impressed as he and Johnny England led over the last five fences from favourite Bold Chief, who could never quite get on terms in the Restricted. "All he does is gallop and we just hoped that he would have the class to lay up with the others", admitted Dominique Green, representing her partner, trainer Richard Bevis, who was on duty at Wincanton. Connections have no specific plans, but the five-year-old is definitely one for the notebook.
Country Gentleman's Association chief executive William Harrison-Allan was also at Wincanton for his company's sponsored race, so he missed seeing his Sherminator get off the mark under Will White in the Maiden. The Cheltenham purchase – "bought on the same day at Cheltenham in January 2008 as [Cheltenham Hunter Chase winner] Shooters Wood", said trainer Camilla Baylis – Sherminator seemed to relish the longer trip after disappointing over 2 miles under Rules.
Twenty-two-year-old former Royal Marine Kevin Jones, who rode his first winner on Alldunnandusted in a Stratford hurdle in May for his boss Seamus Mullins, doubled his tally on Club Members winner May Be Possible. Owned and trained by Richard and Gill Bryan, May Be Possible put in a fine round of jumping and still held the advantage when closest pursuer Ungaro (Heather Kemp) fell at the last.
Flying Phento was a very comfortable winner of Mares' Maiden under Josh Guerriero. The nine-year-old is the fourth winner bred by Kentisbeare owner Pam Pengelly out of 10-race winner Fly The Wind following Lady Wurzel, Big Dave's Legend and Dennis The Legend, the winner of Stratford's 2009 John Corbet Cup.
L/Bdr Katie Stock, 24, opened her account on Reflection in the closing King's Troop RHA Club Members race. Capt Max Chenery looked in control on 2010 winner Blackadder, but had no answer when Reflection sprinted past the long-time leader after the second last.
Combined Services Club Members (9 runners) – 5 lengths, nk. Six minutes: 17 secs
Restricted (15 runners) – 1½, dist. 6:12
Ladies Open (8 runners) – 3, 8. 6:12
Mens Open (Coronation Gold Cup) (13 runners) – 2, 8. 6:12
PPA PPORA Club Members Mares Maiden (12 runners) – 7, 2. 6:26
Open Maiden (Horses and Geldings) (16 runners) – 5, 1½. 6:28
Intermediate (Nov Rdrs) (9 runners) – 12, 3. 6:21
King's Troop RHA Club Members, 2m4f (8 runners) – 3, 5. 6:28