The overnight rain that arrived at Milborne St Andrew softened the ground and provided for a test of stamina in the seven races at the South Dorset point to point where 69 horses participated. Jack Barber trained two winners with Ballyknock Cloud and Posh Totty, Tin Pot Man repeated his success in the Hunt race, Real Milan was the winner of a dramatic Mens Open race and Monsieur Gibraltar was an impressive winner of the Novice Riders race. A good crowd attended on a cold but dry afternoon and the sun made an appearance towards the end of the afternoon.
The meeting began with a surprise 33-1 winner in the shape of Master Tradesman trained by Ces Mitford – Slade and ridden by Sean Houlihan. Setting off in front in the two and a half mile contest he held off the challenge of King Calvin by two and a half lengths. Bought privately from Ireland after eight fairly undistinguished runs in point to points in his native country he has been jumping poles and lots of different obstacles at Pontispool where Ces trains and the benefits of this certainly showed as he jumped well out in front. Given ' a peach of a ride' as described by Ces about his jockey Sean Houlihan he had most of his rivals well beaten by the second last fence and although Will Biddick mounted a challenge with King Calvin he could not reach the winner.
Tin Pot Man easily supplemented his win in the Hunt race last season when taking this year's renewal from his stablemate Lamb's Cross. The last named made much of the running under Ed Doggrell until his stamina faltered and allowed George Hiscock to saunter home untroubled to record a thirty length win. Leased to Dick Hiscock this season from owner Carol Sevenoaks he will probably stay point to pointing this season whereas the runner up may now be aimed at two and a half mile Hunter Chases.
The Open Maiden race over three miles provided the closest finish of the day with Ballyknock Cloud beating Carrignagapple by a head. Always prominent the winner was headed between the last two fences by Carrignagapple ridden by Ed Doggrell but stayed on well to snatch the race in the final strides. Bought by Jack Barber at Doncaster last May for £15,000 he is owned by a syndicate of six including Andy Pollard whose colours he ran in today. He was ridden by champion jockey Will Biddick who reported that the grey gelding will prefer a sounder surface to show his best form.
The Restricted race was won by the mare Fishy Story who ran on well to beat Tedspeed by two and a half lengths. Owned by Martin Tucker and trained by Stuart Sampson she is clearly an improving mare and stayed on under Matt Hampton to record her victory. Bought out of David Pipe's stable for whom she was placed in a Bumper at Fontwell she recorded two victories at the end of last season and appreciated the softer ground which she had been waiting for.
Another game mare in the shape of Posh Totty won a very competitive Ladies Open race under Bryony Frost. After tracking the leader Imperial Circus she took up the running on the final circuit and held off the determined challenge of the favourite Master Baker by three quarters of a length. Although only small she is a tough race mare who does not let anyone pass her on the gallops let alone the racecourse. The 7lbs weight concession was to prove a decisive factor in the outcome of the race.
The Mens Open race looked at the mercy of the Jack Barber trained Golden Hoof ridden by Will Biddick as he had a clear lead from Real Milan jumping the second last. However as they turned the final corner into the home straight Golden Hoof's stride quickly shortened and as they approached the last Real Milan was upsides. Golden Hoof then took a nasty looking fall from which he fortunately got up from and this left Real Milan to come home virtually alone. Owned by Mr and Mrs Nicholas Jones, trained by him, led up by his daughter Miranda and ridden by his son Jack this horse is a real family favourite and has been a stalwart in Jack's riding career. Commenting on his unseat at Taunton Nicholas did reveal that the horse coughed five times in the racecourse stables after the race and as a result gave him 10 days off before bringing him back to the course. The next intended outing will be the Coronation Cup at Larkhill where he finished third last season.
The final race of the day the Novice Riders race was won in emphatic style by Monsieur Gibraltar trained by Rose Loxton and ridden by Lorcan Williams. Reporting to one of the owners of the gelding John Gane, Lorcan described his mount as 'fantastic' and that he had settled and jumped well in the soft going. Although the gelding had won three hurdle races he had failed to win over fences for Paul Nicholls in the summer but on this performance more victories are likely to come his way. John Gane who supplies feed to Paul Nicholls yard at Ditcheat had previously owned shares in Current Event and was pleased to be able to have another share in a horse at Rose Loxton's stable.