After a stuttering start to the season due to the paucity of runners the situation improved for Sundays Hursley Hambleton fixture at Larkhill.
Most West Midland stables seem to keeping their powder dry for the Area’s first meeting at Chaddesley Corbett on 28th December, so our representation has been thin on the ground recently, and wins have been difficult to come by as a result of that policy.
Sam Jukes runners had performed well at Buckfastleigh so hopes were high the Dymock based trainers’ runners would be able to provide Jukes with that all important first winner of the season.
TB Broke Her had finished third on her seasonal debut and after that performance Will Gaskins’ mare was installed as favourite for the Ladies Open with betting suggesting that Southfield Theatre would be her main threat.
Southfield Theatre (checked sleeves) leads the Ladies as they pass the judge for the first time
Lilly Bradstock took Southfield Theatre to the front at the fourth and the two market rivals had the race to themselves through the second half of the contest.
Hannah Lewis had her mount in a perfect position throughout and the leader looked vulnerable as TB Broke Her inched closer approaching two out but Southfield Theatre found extra reserves and began to extend his advantage as they turned back towards home and had the race in safe keeping at the last.
Southfield Theatre flies the last leaving TB Broke Her in his wake
Sam Jukes on The Well Road and Tommie O’Brien on Summer Sounds were determined to set a strong gallop in the Conditions but may have overdone the forcing tactics as both paid the penalty for their early exertions later in the race.
Summer Sounds (noseband) and The Well Road (pink) set a strong early pace
They were still in contention breasting the crest of the hill but both dropped away tamely soon afterwards. Blackwater Bramble was the main beneficiary of the strong pace and he swept into the lead half a mile from home. He maintained his relentless gallop and went further clear in the closing stages with John Smith Maxwell easing right down on the run in.
Far from foot perfect at the last but Blackwater Bramble has nothing to fear from his rivals on the run in
The winner is qualified with the Tiverton Staghounds and was following up his success at Buckfastleigh in the colours of Roz Smith Maxwell and her mother Katherine, who is a well-known figure on the West Midland Point-to-Point scene.
Local stables had to wait until the very last race before things turned in their favour. Victory came from an unexpected source with two potentially useful 5-year-olds fighting out the finish of the Open Maiden.
As expected, the Sophie Lacey trained Airlander and Tommie O’Brien were installed as favourites although there was plenty of support for Harriet Brown’s Montarlot and Sam Allwoods Free Ski but both were early casualties.
With heavy drizzle reducing visibility at the far end of the course, it became clear the finish was going to concern Danilo D’Airy (Cotswold) and Airlander (Ledbury).
Zac Baker’s mount led as they galloped towards the home straight, with Airlander poised to challenge as they raced towards the second from home, but surprisingly it was Tommie O’Brien who was the first to go for their whip.
Zac Baker and Danilo D’Airy lead Airlander on the final bend
His mount’s resolution could not be faulted but they were always fighting a losing battle as Danilo D’Airy maintained a clear lead at the last and stayed on strongly to land the spoils for Chipping Norton based Farrier John Benfield.
Not much in it at the last but Danilo D’Airy retained his advantage on the run in
Noble Ben showed his liking for Cottenham by recording yet another victory at the Cambridgeshire venue in the hands of Alex Edwards. Just Cause was preferred in the betting but the race was run at a steady pace so it became a sprint in the home straight, and that proved to the winner’s advantage.