An excellent day's racing took place at Milborne St Andrew on Saturday when the Wilton held their point-to-point. Although it was a cloudy afternoon it remained dry and racegoers were able to enjoy six competitive races on soft ground where the emphasis was on the ability to stay the trip. The highlights of the day were an impressive seasonal debut of Master Baker who captured the Mixed Open race, Moscow Prices who also won his race on his seasonal debut under Lucy Mager, another gritty performance by Robin de Boss and a first win from her new stable at Mappowder for Harriet Brown's Gracious Prince in the concluding race. Prior to the point-to-point racing the charity flat race was won in stylish fashion by up and coming point-to-point trainer Annie Bacon on her first ride in public.
The opening race, the Maiden, was won in convincing style by The Jaffna Queen ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen. Making virtually all in the two and a half mile contest the mare had fifteen lengths in hand at the line from nearest rival Artson with the remaining finishers virtually walking over in the line. Home bred by owner Robert Waley–Cohen the mare had started her racing career in France but had not excelled there. She had run well at the South Dorset meeting when finishing third so her victory was not a surprise.
Another mare, One Big Love, followed up her win at Buckfastleigh when taking the Restricted race under Lorcan Williams. Held up she made steady headway through the field and taking up the lead approaching the last she drew clear on the run-in to win by four lengths from the fast finishing Ballybruff. Bred out of a mare called Sound Appeal (who was a one-time favourite for the Triumph Hurdle) owned by Bob Fidler who had lent her to Helen Pease for the mating with Tamure she has taken her time to find her winning ways but this was a determined performance. Helen who heads the Withyslade Partnership explained that she has horses under rules with Robert Walford, son –in-law of Sally Alner so when deciding to send the mare point-to-pointing it was an obvious choice. A delighted Helen's first comment in the winner's enclosure was 'Sally worked her magic'
Moscow Prices was a game winner of the Countryside Alliance Club Members race in beating favourite Fly West ridden by Will Biddick. Always prominent Lucy Mager sent her mount into the lead at the third last and held off the challenge of Fly West by two lengths. Owned jointly by Kim Tripp and Lucy Kim was quick to praise the work that Lucy has spent with the gelding mentioning in particular the use of Kevin Bishop's gallops up Bleadon Hill to get him as fit as possible for his seasonal debut.
There was a remarkable finish to the feature race, the Mixed Open, with four horses still in contention. Tom Barton who had made much of the running had been headed at the second last and Alternatif ridden by Gordon Treacy had taken it up and looked to have stolen a march on his rivals. Sam Waley-Cohen aboard Facile Bien had no more to give at the last fence but Jo Supple (nee Buck) galvanised her mount Master Baker and with a bold jump at the last he drew clear on the flat to win by three lengths. Recording his eighth career victory for owner Jacqui McCullough in only fourteen races he is next likely to be seen in a Taunton Hunterchase. Describing Jo's victory trainer Lisa Jefford said that 'it was a peach of a ride and she timed it beautifully'
Robin de Boss followed up his victory in the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Hunt race when taking the Novice and Veteran Riders race under Jamie Hepburn. Trained by Jamie's mother Jo he has been a revelation this season and this was his third victory. Describing herself as a proper amateur Jo explained that much of the gelding's work is done round a 40 acre field by her and Jamie comes down from London when he can to help out with the training.
The concluding race, the Open Maiden for six year olds and over run over two and a half miles, attracted the biggest field of the day with thirteen horses starting. Favourite Dragon de la Tour looked to be in command approaching the last but as his stride shortened George Hiscock aboard Gracious Prince saw his opportunity and his mount responded well on the flat to record a two length victory. Bought by trainer Harriet Brown at Ascot in July last year he runs in the name of the Phoenix Partnership which consists of Harriet's father Jeffery and Sarah and Mic Holmes from Dorchester who are loyal supporters of Harriet's since she started training. Harriet moved to her new yard at Mappowder last summer and this was her first victory from her new base. The gelding had run very freely on his debut at Larkhill despite being very laid back at home but with an application of a hood and being taken to the start early he now settles well in his races and on this evidence there will be more to come.