First-season Nyland trainer Stuart Penny achieved his first success when the Dufosee Family's homebred Stalbridgeswansong took the Portman 3-mile Maiden at Badbury Rings on Saturday. Stuart is campaigning eight pointers from the late John Dufosee's stables, after being associated with the yard for 11 years. He landed a series of wins for John aboard Hazel Goody's Frank Byrne in the early 2000s. "If Duf had wanted a winner, this would be the place", said Teresa Dufosee, whose late husband died in May, aged 66, after a battle against cancer. "Stalbridgeswansong is the last of the line, which included horses like [Arkle's 1966 Hennessy Gold Cup conqueror] Stalbridge Colonist, that was established by John's grandfather, Harry Dufosee". Partnered by Robbie Henderson, Stalbridgeswansong just got the better of a battle with Get In Line, ridden by his owner-trainer, Vicky Heal.
The win completed a double for Robbie after Merry Terry benefitted from first-time cheekpieces in the Restricted. "They seem to have brightened his ideas up", felt Sherborne owner-trainers Richard and Ruth Dimond.
Michael Miller was also in double form with Mixed Open winner Touch Of Flame and Alfatrix, who walked over in the Hunt Members for Portman Point-to-Point Secretary Jackie Abbott and Peter Gray. The former held on comfortably after disputing for most of the race with runner-up Beadnell Bay (Robbie Henderson). "We don't give Michael instructions – he knows how to ride Badbury", smiled Janet Cumings, who added that Touch Of Flame would be back in the hunting field, ridden by her husband, Keith, later in the week.
Pastek took the Intermediate after jumping the last alongside fellow Badbury specialist and market rival Tork To Me (Matt Hampton). A trip to the Cheltenham Hunter Chase evening meeting on 4 May is on the agenda.
Erehwon – "Nowhere" backwards after his sire, Exit To Nowhere – made all and drew further and further clear of his 2m 4f Maiden rivals under Suzy Berry. The win launched a weekend double (completed by Adeus Ayrton 24 hours later at Cothelstone) for Spaxton handler Marie McGuinness, who trains the seven-year-old for owner-breeder Anthony Phipps.
Plush jockey George Hiscock rode his second winner of the campaign when Woodbridge Quest walked over in the Novice Riders' race.
The Eric Dymott Memorial Trophy for Leading Novice Rider at Badbury Rings this season was awarded to Matt Hampton.
Intermediate (3 runners) – Nk, 15 lengths. Six minutes: 23 secs
Open Maiden 456&7yo, 2m4f (5 runners) – 12, 25. 5:23
CA Club Members (Nov Rdrs)
Mixed Open (3 runners) – 2, 7. 6:19
Restricted (3 runners) – 8. 6:13