ROYAL Navy officer Vicki Sollitt was thrilled to ride her first winner when Spanish Arch romped home at the Cazenove Capital Old Berkshire Hunt point-to-point meeting at Lockinge, near Wantage.
Lt Cdr Sollitt, from Tewkesbury, bought the 11-year-old gelding out of Martin Keighley's yard to run in the Royal Artillery and Grand Military Gold Cups at Sandown, finishing fourth and ninth respectively this season. Having achieved that aim with the son of Westerner, whom she also trains, she found herself in the winner's enclosure after the Bear at Wantage (Arkell's) PPORA Club Members' Conditions Race on her fourth ride between the flags. Sollitt set sail for home approaching the third-last fence, and Spanish Arch galloped on powerfully through the tacky ground to pass the post 25 lengths clear of Pithivier, "I am absolutely delighted," said Sollitt, who is based at Abbey Wood, Filton, near Bristol, "He gave me two amazing spins round Sandown and also round Chaddesley Corbett. He jumped straight as a die. He is a lovely horse to own, train and ride because he loves this job. When I pressed the button and asked him to go he found another gear and kept travelling and I thought 'oh my gosh this is fantastic'."
Trainer Stuart Sampson admitted luck was on Beat The Tide's side after his charge made the trip up from Cullompton in Devon worthwhile by taking the Cazenove Capital Mixed Open in dramatic fashion. Holding a clear advantage on the run-in, Abricot De L'Oasis looked to have the prize in safe keeping only to jink allowing Ben Robarts' mount to go past. Freddie Henderson got the eight-year-old, trained by his father, James, at Buscot Park, near Faringdon, going again, but Beat The Tide held on to win by half a length with Mazuri Cowboy the same distance back in third.Sampson said, "He is a genuine horse. To be fair to him if the front horse had not jinked he would probably not have got to him. We came here thinking it would be better ground than anywhere else. He is very versatile and seems to like better ground on what he has done for us. Ben owns and rides him and it's great fun to see owners and riders do it for themselves."
Fortune also favoured Medieval Chapel as he repeated his win of two years ago in the OKA Old Berkshire Hunt Members', Subscribers' & Farmers' Race under Camilla Henderson. The ten-year-old grey, owned by the rider's father, National Hunt champion trainer Nicky Henderson, who was watching on, looked set for second place as last year's runner-up, Gizzit, held a clear lead at the last fence only to fall. With the two other runners having already pulled up, Medieval Chapel, who is trained by Georgie Nicholls at Kingston Lisle, near Wantage, finished alone. Henderson, who lives at Stanford in the Vale, near Faringdon, said, "This week at home we put the blinkers on and have done some work at Seven Barrows and tried to rev him up a bit. My horse was struggling, but I knew he was careful on his feet. We kept going and I could see the one in front of me was getting tired."
Nicholls, who was opening her account, added, "This horse has been ready to go for three weeks and I said whatever the weather is on Monday we are going to run. You have got to jump the fences, but I am glad that the other horse is fine."
Owner-trainer Tim Underwood was all smiles after Tempelpirate recorded his 19th win in the Cornbury Festival PPORA Club Members' Conditions Race for Veteran and Novice Riders. Held up by Phil York in the three-runner affair, the 11-year-old loomed menacingly onto the heels of the front-running Cadeau George only to jump slowly at the last fence. However, he knuckled down on the run-in to collar Dougie Gittins's mount and claim the honours by a length. Asked about his charge's winning spree, Underwood, from Beedon, near Newbury, said, "He is just a bit better than the others. He goes in the soft as well, but it's not his best ground." York added playfully of his waiting tactics, "Tim was adamant 'don't move and sit out last'. I said when can I move and he walked out of the tent and didn't tell me."
Fred Hutsby, who trains at Wellesbourne in Warwickshire, was impressed by the manner of Mistercobar's pillar-to-post victory in the 2m 5f Charles Russell Speechlys Restricted Race. The six-year-old, owned by the Droitwich-based Wayward Pilgrims Partnership headed by Bob Sealey, forged clear when given the office by Sam Lee to follow up his Kingston Blount maiden win with a three-lengths success over Order In Court. Hutsby said, "What I liked about him was when Sam went for him from two out he quickened and got the race won. I would like to see him on better ground. He won his maiden and we didn't know what he beat, but now he has won like that he might be alright." Lee added, "I am convinced he wants good ground, but he will probably make a mockery of me when it comes good. He is a honest horse and gives you everything and I love him for it. He showed he could go up in grade."
It was a case of mission accomplished for Howard Pauling after Whin Park landed the 'Pat & Mike Allsopp' Memorial Open Maiden for his Chadlington stables, near Chipping Norton. Peter Mason plotted a wide course on the six-year-old in search of better ground, and his mount eased clear from the fourth-last to come home ten lengths ahead of Redmond Hall. The son of Great Pretender, owned by Sue Davis, from Stow-on-the-Wold, joined Pauling after failing to shine under rules with his son, Ben. Pauling Snr said, "He didn't really enjoy himself, so we have taken him to point-to-pointing to enjoy life. He has come to me to do a job and I have done that." Mason added: "He handled the ground and was always going nicely. He jumped well and had a bit in the tank at the end. It is chewed up on the inside and you just want to do your best to help them get round. He is one going forward."
The meeting was preceded by two pony races, with Lambourn's Thomas Bradburne, 11, taking the Pinewood Perpetual Trophy for 138cm and Under event on Push The Button.
Edward Vaughan, 10, son of trainer Tim Vaughan, from Cowbridge, near Cardiff, finished second on Nomoranun, before going one better in the Pinewood Perpetual Trophy for 148cm and Under race aboard Peateaoh.