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Mendip Farmers at Ston Easton
Sunday 26th March 2017
by Bob Bracher

A glorious spring day attracted a large crowd to Ston Easton to enjoy the Mendip Farmers point-to-point. There was some excellent racing with several close finishes with the riding honours shared by Lorcan Williams and Will Biddick who both rode a double. There was a second career victory for Harriet Tucker aboard her own horse Masterleaderman in the Ladies' Open race.

The meeting began with a select field of three in the Confined Hunts race. Setting off in front and determined to make it a test of stamina 12 year old Join Together and Will Biddick set a fast pace and looked to have his rivals in trouble approaching the final two fences but the concession of giving 7 pounds to his younger rival Thereyarsee ridden by Lorcan Williams proved too much with the latter having four lengths in hand at the line. Commenting afterwards trainer Sally Alner said that 'she was amazed at the quick time (just over 6 minutes) and that was some performance for such a big horse on this tight course'. Recording his third victory of the campaign Bill Dupont's gelding does like to race left handed so a trip to Cheltenham might still be considered.

A cracking finish to the Open Maiden over two and a half miles followed with two promising four year olds fighting it out to the line. Ticket to Ride ridden by Will Biddick narrowly beat Jeu de Mots ridden by Chester Williams with the winning margin given as a head. Owned by Richard Kelvin-Hughes and Ed and Polly Walker the winner had been in pre training with Dan Skelton but it was decided more time was needed. His next outing is likely to be at the Goffs boutique sale at Aintree on 6th April and both his and the runner-up's future progress should be watched with great interest.

Masterleaderman made most of the running to hold off the late challenge of De Boitron in the Ladies Open race. Owned/trained and ridden by 21 year old Harriet Tucker this was a second career victory at her local course. Stabled at East Pennard near the A37 he is ridden out during Harriet's lunchbreak from her full time job with Paul Nicholls and somehow she fits in the rest of his training around all of her work at Ditcheat.

Spectators were privileged to see the two brightest new talent of jockeys fighting out the finish of the Men's Open race when 17 year old Lorcan Williams riding Monsieur Gibraltar beat 16 year old James Bowen riding Flying Eagle. Riding his fourteenth winner of the season Lorcan is well ahead in the leading Novice Rider Championship. Trained by Rose Loxton the gelding's previous outing had been in a charity flat race at Newbury when he had been ridden by Sheikh Fahad Al Thani and the race had appeared to take more out of him than had been expected. However having had a break he was an easy winner of the race having twenty lengths to spare over his rival. He is likely to be next seen in a Hunter Chase.

The closest finish of the day came in the Restricted race when King Calvin trained by Jack Barber and ridden by Will Biddick narrowly beat Palmaria trained by Caroline Keevil and ridden by Christopher Barber. The judge's decision of the winning distance being a nose showed how close it was at the line and there was much uncertainty in the winner's enclosure as to the outcome until the announcement was finally made.

Emperor Renard made all the running to win the Open Maiden race under Sean Houlihan. Having shown promise in his only start last season he finished third at Chaddesley Corbett in December but was then found to be suffering from a cold and it has taken time for him to be ready to make his reappearance. Bought by trainer Marie McGuinness for owner David Churches as a three year old at Goffs in June 2014 his mother won six races on the flat, two hurdles and three steeplechases (trained by Martin Pipe for the chase victories). Sean commented that 'he would have been more impressive in his victory if something had come to take him on'. David praised the patience and detail of Marie in getting the gelding spot on for his return to action and hopes that more success will now follow.

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