The perfect ground at Badbury Rings drew horses, owners and riders from all over the country for the Countryside Alliance (Wessex) Club point to point. Many were paying their first ever visit to the popular Dorset course and it is highly likely that they will be returning at a later date. With much of the country waterlogged the going was described by several riders as being just on the soft side of good and a fair test for horses and riders. Philip Rowley and Alex Edwards will certainly remember their first visit as they secured a double with their runners they brought from Shropshire , Mickey Bowen will do likewise with his runner Curious Carlos from Pembrokeshire and closer to home there was a return to form of Master Baker in the Ladies race.
Master Baker turned a competitive Skinner's Ladies race into a procession and looks back to his best. Jo Supple was happy to track the leaders turning for home but once she asked her mount for an effort both Tom Barton and Zamparelli who had been vying for the lead had no more to give. Jacqui McCullough the owner of Master Baker was thrilled with her horse's win and hopes that he can resume a successful Hunter Chase campaign and take in the Newbury Hunter Chase at the end of March, a race he won in 2019.
The Wessex National Men's Open was won in good style by Champagne Lilly ridden by Alex Edwards from Three Faces West ridden by Nathan Vergne. Making only her fifth ever appearance on a racecourse her victory was rather a surprise to her trainer Philip Rowley who was completing his double with this race. She is owned by Fanny Armitage from Oxfordshire and Mary Bathurst from Surrey and bred by them from the mare Champagne Lil who won a Bumper and three Hurdle races. A half-sister to the prolific Champagne at Tara she is one to follow as the season progresses.
Alex Edwards and Philip Rowley had started the day by winning the first Division of the Conditions race with Undisputed who stayed on well to beat Dr Rhythm ridden by David Prichard by just over a length. Not seen since the opening day of the season at Cottenham Philip explained that there had been no particular problems with the mare but he wanted to find the right race where she was not carrying too much weight. Owned by Tim Leadbeater who is a solicitor for JCB but unfortunately he was not able to be present to see his mare's victory.
Alex came very close to winning the second Division of the Conditions race when he partnered the Neil McLean trained and John and Floss Symes owned Sixteen Letters. Narrowly defeated at Milborne St Andrew he once again went down this time by a head in a duel with Curious Carlos ridden by Byron Moorcroft. The Welsh raider whose journey to Badbury took some five hours is trained by Mickey Bowen having previously in the care of Mickey's father Peter. Bred by his owner Carl Pyne he is already the winner of eight races under rules and showed he still retains ability on this evidence. Byron admitted that his mount jumped himself to the front earlier than he planned but he was just able to maintain his lead. A Hunter Chase may be next on the agenda for Curious Carlos.
The Novice Riders race produced another easy winner in the shape of Master Dancer ridden by Fergus Gillard and trained by Stuart Sampson. He drew right away from his twelve rivals and recorded a seventeen lengths victory. Acquired from Tim Vaughan's yard who won three flat races and two hurdles with him he is now owned in partnership by two neighbours of Stuart's namely Garth Whisker and Derek Prettyjohn. Although Fergus is full time at David Pipe's stable he does ride out at Stuart's when time is available.
Organised Solution ridden by Milo Herbert and TheChaseison ridden by Martin McIntyre had the finish of the first division of the Restricted race between them with the former staying on strongly to win by two and a half lengths. Bought from Arthur Moore and trained by Nicky Sheppard at Ledbury for the Herbert family he appreciated the going which Nicky described as 'beautiful ground'. Although Nicky had been to Badbury before when her son Stan rode in point to points this was her first training success and was 'worth the three hour trip'. Nicky reported that Milo's other horse Risk and Roll is likely to next appear in a Hunter Chase at Taunton on Thursday.
Ryan Potter was another first time visitor to Badbury and he was able to return to his Ross on Wye stable with a winner after the success of No Limitations in the second division of the Restricted race when ridden by Bradley Gibbs. Ryan was quick to praise the efforts of Sam Brown who has done much of the work with the gelding and has helped the gelding become more confident with his jumping. Ryan hopes that his gelding continues to progress and identified the Intermediate Final at Cheltenham in May as being a long term target.
The concluding race, the Maiden, was won by the five year old gelding Revels Hill ridden by Freddie Procter who stayed on well to beat Dawn Sunrise ridden by George Hiscock by seven lengths. Trained by Chris Barber and owned by The Glanvilles Partners he was originally bought by Nick Mitchell at the Tattersalls Ireland sales in August 2018 for 11,000 Euros. After Nick handed in his training license the gelding returned back to the Glanvilles Stud run by Douglas Procter and then went into training with Chris this season. Freddie was recording his third career victory and his first win for his family.