It was definitely Ladies day at the Royal Artillery meeting last Saturday with five of the six races being won by Lady Trainers. The day remained virtually dry throughout and a reasonable crowd watched six races which was preceded by the spectacle of a side-saddle dash over 7f which was won in emphatic fashion by Kelle King aboard the six year old thoroughbred mare Time to Exceed who was making her final racecourse appearance before going off to stud in Ireland. Monsieur Gibraltar was once again the star point-to-point performer when winning the Ladies Open for Harriet Tucker and there were local triumphs for Adrenalin Flight and Coco Live who are both trained very close to Larkhill.
Monsieur Gilbraltar ridden by Harriet Tucker continued his love affair with Larkhill when outclassing his six rivals in the Ladies Open race and although the gallant grey Dicky Bob tried to stay with him Rose Loxton's charge still had eight lengths in hand at the winning post. Rose, who is hoping to have her cast on her leg removed next week, indicated that he will probably stay point-to-pointing for a while but a Hunter Chase campaign will be considered later in the season. The key to him seems to be the better going and in current form it will take a good horse to beat him. Harriet was beaming on returning to the winner's enclosure saying that 'he really flew over the fences and gave me a great feel'
The Mens Open was the sole race not won by a female trainer and the two runner race was robbed of its interest when Liam Harrison was unseated off Tom Barton at the fourth fence. This left Stellar Notion to jump round on his own to record a bloodless victory for Jack Andrews. Trained by Tom Frost in Solihull for Stephen Dunn he is now qualified for both the Cheltenham and Aintree Foxhunters and is more likely to go for the former at this stage.
The Hunt race was won by Adrenalin Flight owned by Seamus Mullins and trained by local trainer Sally Rawlins who also saddled the third home Sidbury Hill. The thirteen year old gelding was giving jockey Matthew Fielding, 21, his second point to point victory and followed his first winner under Rules for his boss Seamus Mullins on another thirteen year old Kastani Beach at Lingfield earlier this month. Seamus was full of praise for Matthew adding that he will going to Doncaster next month to hopefully obtain his Category B Licence so that he can ride some of the lighter weights for the stable. Adrenalin Flight has flourished since being in the care of Sally who only has the two horses to train and enjoys the relaxed atmosphere including regularly rolling in the mud.
The Open Maiden race was a comfortable success for the Frances Bishop owned and trained Country Legend. Taking up the lead from the second last from principal rivals Courtandbould and Earth Leader the mare quickly drew clear to record a ten length win. Ridden by former champion jockey Will Biddick he had been booked by usual pilot Tom Bishop who remained in London as his wife was expecting their second child imminently. Previously trained for the last two seasons by Mappowder trainer Harriet Brown James Bishop speaking for both himself and his wife was quick to pay tribute to Harriet ' for all her hard work with the mare and for keeping a lid on her and not allowing them to rush her until she was really ready'. Frances added that 'we made the decision to keep her at home (near Wincanton Racecourse) this season and do the work ourselves but I was expecting her to blow up as I did not know how fit she really was' Bought from trainer/breeder Bill Turner the mare has fallen in love with their three polo pony mares and demands to always be in sight of them which does cause some problems when trying to take her out on exercise!
The Conditions race had a dramatic start with favourite Hawkhurst falling at the first and in the process breaking the collarbone of champion lady jockey Gina Andrews. The race then developed into a duel between Blackwater Bramble ridden by John Smith-Maxwell and Indian Chance ridden by Jack Andrews. The former showing the benefit of his fitness stayed on strongly to record his third straight victory of the season by six lengths. Trained at West Buckland by John's sister Alex Dunn he continues to be on the upgrade. Recalling the day of his purchase at Ascot in June last year Alex said 'I had not looked at him or his form prior to his arrival in the ring but he is by King's Theatre and looked a fine stamp of a horse so I bought him on spec' He is certainly giving both her mother Katherine and sister Ros a lot of fun with her random purchase from Jade Barber's stable.
The final race, the Intermediate, gave another local trainer Harriet Waight a second victory for the season when Coco Live made all the running under Jack Savage to record a very easy win from the only other finisher Hello Jazz. A previous winner at Larkhill at the last meeting he is not the most straight forward and is taken to the start before his rivals but Jack is forging a good partnership with him and never saw either of his rivals in this race. Bought by joint owner Stan Rawlins from Kayley Woollacott at the end of last season the comment made by Harriet on his arrival in her yard of ' What did you buy that bloody thing for?' is now a joke between them and he is progressing well under her care and individual attention.