Richard Barber extended his lead in this season's Larkhill Best Trainer table with a treble at the Avon Vale fixture on Saturday. Stay Connected (Maiden), Fredwal (Restricted) and Cappoquin (Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate) provided Richard's three wins.
Stay Connected looked held before making rapid progress to collar Mrs Fir (Robbie Henderson) after the last. "Stays forever", said Richard, summing up his five-year-old charge. "Stay Connected kicked [jockey] Will [Biddick] in the stomach when he fell here last time, so he owed him a winner today".
Fredwal (Ryan Mahon) fought back to deny stable companion Trueflyingcolours (Will Biddick) after the latter had looked the winner entering the straight. "It says in the racecard that he likes soft ground, but he actually wants this decent ground", confided Lorraine Fry, daughter of Wimborne winning owner Phil Fry.
Ryan doubled up on Cappoquin, who was clear in the final mile and lasted home to deny Dan Collins' renewed challenge on May Be Possible. "A good ride", felt assistant trainer Harry Fry. "May Be Possible was the main danger, so Ryan got the better of him in the back straight and then gave Cappoquin a breather up the hill to get home".
Cranmore trainer-rider Sarah Gould, 18, rode her fourth career winner on her father John's Own Line, who broke the 12st course record in the Mixed Open. "I rode nine pony race winners as well, though never one here", confided Sarah, whose 15-year-old sister Lucy led up Own Line after finishing second herself on Mick The Miller in the earlier 148cm pony race.
Robert Hawker, 17, had his father Richard back in third when landing the opening Hunt race on the family's Tir Gra. "It's the first time we've ridden against each other in a race", said Rode-based Richard. "My 16-year-old daughter Charlotte would also have ridden today but for a foot injury and it's hard on her, as she's done all the work with Tir Gra".
After five short-priced losing favourites, odds-on winners Righteous Glory and Preacher Boy brought some relief for punters in the final two contests. Righteous Glory led over the last three fences in the Conditions race, although Nick Pearce had some anxious moments on Stan and Sally Rawlins' 8-year-old. "Andy Dicks deserves the credit for this, as he rides Righteous Glory every day at home", said Stan. Preacher Boy was always going well in the Novice Riders' race and was in no danger after Philip Prince, son of Podimore owners Richard and Dawn, pressed the button three fences from home.
The Princes' in-form pony Wee Anthony easily took the 138cm Pony race under Sophie Hodges, while 14-year-old James Hughes patted Tarka II on the neck throughout the final 100 yards as the 11-year-old cruised home in the 148cm event.
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