Sunday’s Larkill Racing Club meeting was one for true Point-to-Point supporters to eulogise about after they had contended with the bitterly cold winds that swept across Salisbury Plain.
Their perseverance was rewarded with a plethora of runners, four successes for West Midland trained horses (all of them qualified with the Ledbury) and two eye catching debuts by 4-year-olds from the Lacey’s Cottage Field stables.
Chasforgold started our ball rolling in Division I of the Conditions. Clive Bennett’s gelding started favourite and was prominent over the first few fences before dropping towards the rear of the field as the runners made their way down the side of the course.
Sam Jukes’s mount made progress on the climb towards the 13th, but Boysgojumping struck the front with four to jump and these two horses went clear on the run to the next.
Chasforgold appeared to be fighting a losing battle as they came around the final bend, and was 3-lengths in arrears approaching the last, but Boysgojumping started to slow down as the two runners started off up the run in.
CHASFORGOLD (PINK COLOURS) STILL HAS GROUND TO MAKE UP ON BOYSGOJUMPING AS THEY APPROACH THE LAST IN DIVISION I OF THE CONDITIONS
Jukes seized the opportunity and began his efforts with renewed vigour and the gap started to reduce. The favourite inched closer to his rival and finally got his head in front in the final strides to land the spoils.
A FAMILIAR SIGHT ALREADY THIS SEASON – CLIVE AND EILEEN BENNETT IN THE WINNERS ENCLOSURE
This win maintained Bennetts 100% record for the season but that was never going to last and the sequence was broken by Marcle Ridge’s fall later in the afternoon.
The Jukes/Bennett partnership went on to complete a double later in the afternoon when The Well Road dead heated with Irish Legionaire in the Restricted.
Bennett’s familiar pink and grey colours were in mid-field as they disappeared into the dip at the far end of the course but they made significant progress from that point to hold a useful lead half a mile from home.
They were still well clear approaching 2 out where previous course winner Irish Legionaire appeared from the chasing pack to stake his claim. The Well Road maintained his advantage around the final bend and over the last, but having given his all looked vulnerable on the run in. Having been outpaced earlier, Irish Legionaire was finishing like a train and they flashed past the post in unison.
THE WELL ROAD AND SAM JUKES RETURN TO THE WINNERS ENCLOSURE – THE WELL ROAD (LEFT) AND IRISH LEGIONAIRE (RIGHT) SHARE THE SPOILS IN THE RESTRICTED
Jukes was first back to the winners enclosure, but was content to wait for the judge’s verdict whereas the favourites jockey Martin McIntyre immediately went into the winner’s spot. It took some time before the judge announced a dead heat and nobody would begrudge either candidate their share of the spoils.
Despite being in racing for over 30 years, the Bennetts had never been involved with a dead heat before and were really pleased with The Well Road’s Run which “was a vast improvement on some of last season’s performances”.
A DEAD HEAT SEEMS TO MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY
“He has needed time and patience, as he has had several problems, but patience has finally been rewarded” stated Bennett afterwards “He was treated for a kissing spine recently and had an injection last week, it seems to have worked”.
Rye Cross was the stable’s representative in the Men’s Open, and he was prominent throughout this contest and was still in 4th place on the home bend but was passed by several opponents on the flat to finish amongst the also rans.
TOP – RUNNERS FIRST TIME AROUND WITH RYE CROSS (PINK COLOURS) ON RIGHT DISPUTING THE LEAD
BOTTOM – COUSIN PETE (RED AND WHITE) HOLDS MONSIEUR GIBRALTERS CHALLENGE ON THE FLAT
This race saw a return to form for Cousin Pete. Nick Phillips sent him to the front 4 fences from home and opened up an advantage which his rivals found difficult to bridge. Monsieur Gibraltar and Facile Bien did their best, but were always fighting a losing battle in the home straight.
Division II of the Maiden had to be divided on the day. Part I had to be stopped with Vets treating a stricken horse on the home bend.
The yellow flag was waved as early as the 14th fence, which should have resulted in all the riders pulling up but it took the leaders 3 more obstacles to realise what had happened. No doubt their reasons for not doing so will be examined at a higher level.
Part II saw late support for the Bennett’s home bred Marcle Ridge but favourite backers soon knew their fate as the 6-year-old stormed to the front, quickly established a 4-length advantage until he overjumped and failed to get his landing gear down at the 3rd.
This cleared the way for market rivals, Jade Barber’s Three in One and Tom Lacey’s newcomer Sebastopol.
There was little between Elizabeth’s Wish, Three in One and Sebastopol at the third from home but the former departed at this obstacle and that left the two market principals to fight out the finish.
SEBASTOPOL AND TOMMIE O’BRIEN POSE FOR THE CUSTOMARY PHOTO’S
Three in One had finished runner up to a Lacey runner at the December meeting and had to do so again. Tommie O’Brien’s mount eased clear around the final bend and left his rival standing on the flat, sprinting clear to prevail by 12-lengths. He looked a Rolls Royce amongst Ford Fiesta’s.
Racecourse rumours regarding Energumene’s ability were in abundance before Division I of the Maiden, but the racecourse is always the best place to discover whether these plaudits are credible.
Given time to find his feet during the first half of the contest, Tommie O’Brien eased his mount into contention with a mile to run and was poised on the heels of the leaders until a mistake at the second from home halted his progress.
TOP – ENERGUMENE AND TOMMIE O’BRIEN START TO GET THE MEASURE OF THEIR RIVALS ON THE FLAT – NOTE TROED Y MELINS DRAMATIC DEPARTURE
BOTTOM – THE WINNER SPRINTS CLEAR OF AIN’T NO LIMITS AND DULWICH HILL
He was soon back on an even keel, challenged at the last and stayed on to win by 2-lengths in the style of a useful horse and looks well worth the price connections paid for him at Tatts Derby Sales.
Tom Lacey’s post-race comment “he is the nicest 4-year-old I’ve had”, is a big accolade for this horse. “He’s a June foal so is basically only 3 and a half. To do that in those conditions and pick up like he did is amazing”
Questioned about what connections will do next with their Derby Sales purchase, Lacey did not rule out the normal Sales route “but we will take him home, see how he is before deciding what to do”.
Real Milan and Jack Jones made a brave attempt to land a fifth success for the Ledbury in the Novice Riders. They were at the forefront of affairs from the start but could never shake off the attentions of L’Eldorado and Tolkeins Tango who harried their rival throughout the final half mile.
THE LIGHT IS BEGINNING TO GO AS REAL MILAN (BLACK AND WHITE) IS CHALLENGED BY THE EVENTUAL WINNER L’ELDORADO (CENTRE) AND TOLKEINS TANGO ON THE FINAL BEND
There was little between the three protagonists at the second from home. Real Milan looked the most likely winner at the last, but was caught on the flat by his two rivals.
CONDITIONS – DIVISION I
CONDITIONS – DIVISION II
1ST PINK EYED PEDRO
2ND OUR MILLY ACRES
3RD CREATIVE INERTA
1ST CAID DU BERLAIS
2ND DEBINETT MOON
3RD DICKY BLOB
MAIDEN – DIVISION I
2ND AINT NO LIMITS
3RD DULWICH HILL
MAIDEN – DIVISION II (PART 1)
MAIDEN – DIVISION II (PART II)
2ND THREE IN ONE
3RD BENJAMIN LEADER
1ST COUSIN PETE
2ND MONSIEUR GIBALTAR
3RD FACILE BIEN
1ST THE WELL ROAD
3RD CALL ME BEN
2ND TOLKEINS TANGO
3RD REAL MILAN