Barbury International Racing Club at Barbury Racecourse by Russell Smith
MARCLE Ridge gave trainer Lucy Smith a timely tonic with a gutsy display to record back-to-back wins in the Alan King Racing Mixed Open at the Barbury International Racing Club meeting on Sunday.
The nine-year-old landed the feature race at Barbury Racecourse, near Marlborough, 12 months ago in impressive fashion when trained by Sam Jukes, who is now pursuing new ventures in Denmark.
This time the son of Presenting, now in Smith's care at owner Clive Bennett's Dymock stables, near Ledbury, dug deep under a front-running ride from Tommie O'Brien.
Famous Clermont and Will Biddick looked to be going the better heading to the second-last, but Marcle Ridge wasn't to be denied and after the pair touched down together at the last, he pulled out more on the run-in to score by a length and a half. Maitree Express, the only other finisher, was 30 lengths back in third,
Smith said: "That was just brilliant. He is so tough. Tommie said he got caught up going round the final bend, but he winged the second-last and absolutely winged the last.
"I've had a bit of seconditus, so it's great to get a winner. He felt well at home and has schooled well. I do it all with Tanya and Lottie. We are 'Clive's Angels' and we have taken it to the next level. I have had a tough time at home with family, but with these two girls my life has been much happier."
She added of her stable star: "You have to have him on point to run and I knew he was on point today. He is so more mature this year. He was just phenomenal."
Biddick had struck earlier in the first division of the Jockey Club and Retraining Of Racehorses Veteran Horse Conditions Race (Level 2) on Beau Du Brizais, who was making his pointing debut after winning five times under Rules for Philip Hobbs.
Now with Teresa Clark at Spaxton in the Quantock Hills, the nine-year-old made much of the running before holding off Killaro Boy by three and a quarter lengths to the delight of Hobbs's vet, Philip Browne, who heads the owners Notre Cheval Partnership.
Browne said: "Roger Skan, who owned him, decided his handicap was too high and I rang him up and bought him. He has not lost his way - he was second in the cross country at Cheltenham this time last year, so we knew he stays. I think the long-term plan is the long-distance hunter chase at Cheltenham."
Browne enjoyed a quick-fire double as a member of the Not So Innocent Partnership, who own Where's Wilma, winner of the second division of the veterans' contest for Tiverton trainer Michael Watson.
Matt Hampson swept through on the outside at the fourth-last on the 11-year-old mare, and the move proved decisive as his mount came home seven lengths clear of Clondaw Westie.
Revealing Where's Wilma had an unplanned foal by a gypsy horse as a five-year-old, Watson said: "She won her first race this season and I came here thinking she would be outclassed, but she is just a gutsy horse. Matt rides her really well and never panics, so we are thrilled."
Osian Radford celebrated his first winner when Looksnowtlikebrian ran his rivals ragged in the Highflyer Bloodstock PPORA Club Members Conditions Race (Level 2) for Novice Riders.
Having his sixth ride between the flags, the 20-year-old, from Burry Port in Carmarthenshire, went clear on the final circuit on owner-trainer David Brace's 10-year-old to cruise home by 15 lengths from Twig and Beau Morgan.
Radford, who went to the British Racing School before spending three years with Tim Vaughan and then joining Brace's Pyle yard, near Bridgend, this season, said: "It means the world to me. Hopefully it's the start of a long career. He pulled himself to the front really and I thought he was happy, so I let him go on and do the jumping. He did everything right."
Francesca and Charlie Poste's Ettington stables, near Stratford, got off the mark for the season when Western Zephyr galloped his rivals into submission in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Four And Five-Year-Olds Open Maiden over 2m 4f.
The unraced Irish-bred four-year-old was well clear of Calvic and Izzie Marshall when they took a tired fall at the last, leaving James King's mount to cross the line 25 lengths ahead of His Own Star.
Charlie Poste said: "This lad is a typical Westerner. He has a quite relentless way about him. In a nice way he is a numb character and does jump well. He is very much a staying type for the future and I imagine he will be going to the sales."
Marshall bounced back to take the Magee Equine For Pretraining, Breaking And Water Treadmill Six-Year-Olds And Over Open Maiden in good style on Tres Francais for Oxfordshire trainer Alan Hill.
She sent the six-year-old into the lead approaching the second-last, and he quickened away to pass the post 11 lengths ahead of Right Hand of God and Marshall's brother, Charlie.
Hill, who owns Tres Francais in partnership with Diana Clark and Heather Munn, explained that the son of Great Pretender had been bought from David Maxwell out of Philip Hobbs's stable to replace Changeofluck, who retired last year.
"He has surprised me how well he has done it today," said the Aston Rowant handler. "We will probably look for a restricted and not overface him yet."
Honey I'm Good made amends for parting company with Hatfield trainer-rider Bradley Gibbs at Ffos Las by justifying odds-on favouritism in the Jockey Club Maiden for Mares and Fillies over 2m 4f.
Gibbs took up the running six from home on the five-year-old mare, and she gradually drew clear of Felicie Du Maquis to score by 10 lengths much to the excitement of the owners Good Honey Partnership headed by Darryl Phillips.
Gibbs said: "We got her from Harley Dunne in Ireland. She is not the biggest in the world, but she is really tough."
The nine-race card, which attracted 105 runners, began with two divisions of the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Four And Five-Year-Olds Point-to-Point Flat Race, run in the opposite direction to the races over fences as officials experimented going right-handed.
Martin McIntyre powered Park Hill Dancer home by two lengths from Artic Row in the first division for Leslie Jefford's Payhembury stables, near Honiton, and owner Hannah Bourton.
The winning rider said: "I prefer the other way. I just think it is better the other way for young horses - you want to give them a bit more time and chance."
The second division went to Churchills Boy, trained at Ashford by David Phelan for his wife, Victoria, Tony Allan and Lynn Meagher, with the Ben Bromley-ridden four-year-old gaining a length-and-a-quarter verdict over Miss May Hill.
Bromley said of going clockwise: "It is fine. It's a bumper for the babies and a first run round a bend, which is a bit sharper than usual, but other than that it rides quite nicely."