A tremendous days racing took place at Milborne St Andrew when the South Dorset held their point –to-point where 82 horses took part in the seven races. On ground that many National Hunt courses would be most envious of Clerk of the Course Graham Tory received many plaudits for producing such a superb surface to race on and his efforts were well rewarded by the very high turnout. Those in particular who will remember the day will be Jade Barber who saddled her first winner as a trainer, Nick Williams who rode his first winner on his return to the saddle this season and the impressive winner of the Ladies Race Argocat ridden by his owner Sarah Rippon.
The meeting began with the closest finish of the day when Swincombe Toby ridden by Lorcan Williams just headed Troed Y Melin ridden by Jamie Thomas in the shadow of the winning post and won by a head in the Maiden race run over two and a half miles. After his poor run at Larkhill last week the winner did not wear the tongue tie that was applied then and this certainly produced a much improved performance. Owned and bred by Malcolm and Kathleen Yeo and trained by Sally Alner Malcolm described his 6 year old Tobougg gelding as a 'bridesmaid' and had been a little frustrating under rules when trained by Philip Hobbs. However in the care of Sally Malcolm commented that 'he had never seen him look so well' and he has clearly thrived and had shown good form at Larkhill on his first two outings.
Boher Call jumped his way to victory in the Hunt race for one of his three owners Dr George Bingham and had two lengths in hand over Creative Inerta ridden by Darren Andrews. Bought privately after winning four chases in Ireland for George to ride and trained by Richard Bandey he looks an exciting recruit to point-to-pointing. George who is a GP at St Thomas and was riding after 7 nights' duty at the Hospital explained that he had managed to find time to school the horse at Lambourn when his jumping had been exhilarating.
Kilcrea Bridge was a winner for Wales when the gelding responded to Nick Williams strong riding to hold off the late challenge of Where's Wilma ridden by Martin McIntyre in the Open Maiden race. Bought by Nick's brother Christian from Ireland the Kayf Tara gelding was placed in hurdle races there he is now owned by Wayne Rowles who missed the victory as he was on holiday in Spain. Nick who trains 12 horses from his stable at Port Talbot explained his decision to return to the saddle after missing two seasons as ' I want to ride the horses I train rather than putting someone else up!'
Jade Barber got off the mark as a trainer in the Restricted race when Blackwater Bramble made most of the running under Martin McIntyre. Bought by Paul Barber as a 3 year old the gelding won a Maiden for him when trained by T J Nagle as a 5 year old at Dromahane. Since then he has suffered a leg injury and this was his first appearance since so it was a tremendous training performance to get him back on the course and to beat his 13 rivals. Jade who took over the point-to-point yard after her husband Jack decided to take out a full National Hunt licence was pleased and relieved to get her first victory on the board particularly for Jack's great uncle.
Argocat was the most impressive winner of the day when easily winning the Ladies Open race under Sarah Rippon. Paying her first ever visit to Milborne St Andrew she explained that she fell off the gelding at Thorpe Lodge last week and as he seemed so well she thought he could take his chance to run again. This time there was no mistake and the partnership won by a distance. A classy individual in Ireland where he won three Grade 2 steeplechases he last ran under rules for Nicky Henderson in 2016 but made no show. Found for Sarah by Alex Cole son of the trainer Paul Cole he is now trained at a yard owned by Henrietta Knight and on the basis of this evidence there will be more victories to come.
Another easy winner was Facile Bien in the Mens Open race ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen and owned by his father Robert. He had run a good race when third in a competitive Mens Open at Larkhill behind Cousin Pete and Monsieur Gibraltar and showed the benefit of that outing when beating his seven rivals. Explaining that for his first outing he always seems to be very fresh and tends to rush his fences Robert said that he hopes that he repeats the success of last season when he won his next four races. He is next likely to be seen in the Coronation Gold Cup at Larkhill later this month.
The Dapper Fox outstayed his rivals to win the final race of the day, the Novice Riders race, under his owner and rider Jack Veysey. Bought four years ago the gelding has been a model ride for his owner who was recording his sixth career victory. Given an instruction by Martin Sweetland of 'Don't leave it with too much to do' Jack followed this to the letter and had twelve lengths in hand at the line over the mare Flights ridden by Ed Doggrell.