SOUTH & WEST WILTS
SATURDAY 24 APRIL 2004
by Brian & Gill Armstrong
A large crowd enjoyed a glorious sunny afternoon when the
South & West Wilts Hunt held their annual point to point meeting on
Saturday at Larkhill Racecourse. Highlights were first-ever wins for
30-year-old Sarah Corcoran, whose 5-month-old son Aidan was present as a
spectator, and for 17-year-old A’ Level student Vicky Heal.
The opening Hunt race went to Just Lark and Ryan Bliss, who
led three out and forged well clear of pacesetting favourite Darcey Mae.
Just Lark is trained at Heytesbury near Warminster by Victoria Rickcord, who
was given the horse three years ago as a hunter. Victoria, who was thrilled
to win her Hunt race, evented Just Lark for a year before beginning his
point-to-point career in 2003.
The 10-runner Open Maiden race was won by Wynford Eagle and
Bristol University student Alex Merriam, who finished clear of Lord Of
Heaven and only other finisher Roseacre. Wynford Eagle is trained at
Bradford Peverell, near Dorchester, by Peter and Fiona Shaw for an emotional
Winterborne Whitechurch owner Nicky Turner. Wynford Eagle was bought by
Nicky from breeder Tigger Pudd at Doncaster May 2003 Sales on the
recommendation of the Shaws, who trained half-sister Rossaleen, winner of a
Folkestone Hunter Chase. Nicky was keen to credit rider Alex, a family
friend deputising for Polly Gundry.
The Ladies’ Open went to Virtuoso, a first win from just
five point-to-point rides for 30-year-old rider Sarah Corcoran. Virtuoso was
bought privately from Brendan Powell by Sarah and husband Liam, who trains
the horse at their Kingsbridge livery yard. Sarah rode as an amateur for
Jonjo O’Neill and Mark Pitman on the Flat but had not considered riding in
point-to-points until taking her first ride just two months ago.
The Men’s Open was won comfortably in a fast time by
odds-on favourite Springford, who led after the 13th under
Dominic Alers-Hankey. Springford is trained by Caroline Keevil – away at a
wedding on Saturday and represented by husband Pat - from her livery yard at
Charterhouse in the Mendips. Owner,
Bristol company director Michael O’Connor, estimates that he now has 400
trophies, many won by his large string of greyhounds.
The PPORA Club Members Novice Riders’ race went to Mr Ben
Gunn who took the lead when leader Alex Thuscombe departed at the second
last. This was a first-ever win for Vicky Heal, 17, a student at The Blue
School, Wells. Mr Ben Gunn was bought privately from Jimmy Frost by Vicky
and her parents, Winston and Rosemary, and is trained by Vicky at home at
West Pennard, near Glastonbury.
The closing Restricted race was won by Trumper, only third at
the last before staying on strongly under Rilly Goschen. Trumper was bought
privately out of Josh Gifford’s yard by Midhurst trainer Andrew Lawes, who
owns the horse in partnership with mother Daphne. The winner, who has not
been out of the first two in five 2004 races, will probably now be put away
until next season.