Miss Seagreen reserves her best performances for Larkhill as three previous visits to Wiltshire have yielded two wins and a second but despite this enviable record, she looked to have a stiff task against Southfield Theatre in the Avon Vale Ladies Open,
With a run already under their belt Lilly Bradstock adopted their normal place in the front rank but had Ueueteotl for company for most of the race.
Breasting the hill Hannah Lewis moved Clive Bennetts mare into the leader’s slipstream and made Southfield Theatre look pedestrian as they stormed into a 5-length lead.
Hannah Lewis and Miss Seagreen clear the last on their way to victory in the Ladies Open
That advantage was maintained over the next couple of fences and as they straightened up for the judge the partnership appeared to have the race in safe keeping, but the mare’s lead was challenged as Southfield Theatre renewed his effort at the final obstacle.
Miss Seagreen is challenged by Captain Bucks (left) and Southfield Theatre (right) as they approach the line
Having shown speed to take the lead, Miss Seagreen now had to display courage and she was able to pull out all the stops to hold the favourites efforts on the flat.
Miss Seagreen is accompanied into the winners enclosure by Lucy Smith
Responsibility for the horses at Clive Bennetts Blacklands Farm in the heart of the Ledbury country are split 50/50 between Lucy Smith and Sam Jukes. After landing her first win with her first runner Lucy explained this scenario had come about because Sam intends to apply for a full licence next year, while Lucy will remain in charge of the yards Point-to-Pointers.
Lucy has been assisting Jukes for seven years and while her name may be unfamiliar to some, she is in fact, the daughter of Gold Cup winning jockey Terry Biddlecombe.
With Clive Bennett unable to attend she confirmed that he had watched the race via Live Streaming and she would need to consult the planner before deciding on the mares next objective.
Connections were full of praise for Hannah Lewis (who was riding her 92nd winner) and for the horse who was making her first venture into Open company. The trainer confirmed they will do all they can to provide Hannah with her 100th winner.
The jockey enthused about Miss Seagreen “She is such a game mare and I probably got there too soon. She is so game and Southfield Theatre rechallenging on the flat probably helped my cause as I had a job to pull her up”.
Mel Rowley bounced back from last week’s disappointments at Chaddesley with Salvatore scoring an impressive win in the Men’s Open.
Several of the fancied runners including Pauls Hill, Coningsby, Trio for Rio and Salvatore came to the fore as the runners came back into view, but two fences later and Alex Edwards and Will Biddick’s mount began to open up a clear advantage.
Coningsby was unable to respond as Salvatore swept into a clear lead which he maintained all the way up the run in.
The winning jockey was impressed by this performance “He is such a legend. I think that is 10 races he was won and he is only 7. He will come on for that run. I did not expect him to win like that and he has improved again over the summer”.
Salvatore and Alex Edwards prove too good for their rivals in the Mens Open
Edwards also explained that both Hazel Hill and Wishing and Hoping who had suffered unexpected defeats at Chaddesley were both fine after last week’s exertions.
Salvatore is clear of Coningsby (centre) while the eventual third Trio for Rio is on the right
Clive Boultbee Brookes Trio for Rio finished an encouraging third a head behind Coningsby, with Tommie O’Brien reporting the horse had run well until blowing up 4 out and recommending a return visit to the course in early January.
The owner did have cause to celebration with L’Incorrigible overcoming a long absence to win a Doncaster Novice Hurdle earlier in the day.
No Limitations had a second to Miss Seagreen at Didmarton on his C.V. plus a third place behind Organised Solution at Maisemore, a level of form which his rivals struggled to match in Division II of the Conditions.
Low sun resulted in the removal of three fences on the side of the course and 6 in total, so after the fence at the top of the hill had been negotiated, jumping became an irrelevance until the final obstacle.
No Limitations was 5-lengths behind the leaders at this point where Alternatif, Thereyarsee and Minim Mouse were vying for the lead while Always Lion was creeping into contention.
Bradley Gibbs and No Limitations moved up into a challenging position two furlongs from home and saved lengths by claiming the inside berth on the final bend, which meant they were able to match strides with Minim Mouse at the final obstacle.
No Limitations and Bradley Gibbs hold Minim Mouse’s challenge on the flat
Halfway up the run in it looked as though No Limitations had claimed the prize but Chloe Emsley and Minim Mouse fought back but were still a head behind as they passed the judge.
Suitably masked up Emma Yardley (right) with No Limitations in the winners enclosure
Winning trainer Emma Yardley said afterwards “Its brilliant to get a winner on board. I have about 5 Pointers while my partner Ryan Potter has 15 to run under Rules from our yard at Caradoc near Ross on Wye.
“Owner Laurna Vaughn has been very loyal to Ryan and I, so it is nice to provide her with a winner. She has had to be very patient as the horse has taken a couple of years to come to himself. We might have a go at Novice Hunter Chases after Xmas”.
James King and Always Lion were putting in their best work at the finish to finish third after an absence of several years, which was encouraging for owner Jason Warner who describes the 10-year-old as “having legs of glass”.
Earlier in the afternoon Tommie O’Brien teamed up with the Tom Lacey owned and trained Scipion and guided him into second place in the 4 and 5 year old Maiden. The youngster acquitted himself well and was in fact disputing the lead at the third from home but they had no answer when Will Biddick and Famous Clermont claimed the lead at the next.
Cashmoll gave a good account of herself in Division II of the Restricted, but she just failed to reel in the long-time leader Happy Larry.
Zac Baker settled his mount in mid field and the partnership were 10-lengths off the pace at the top of the hill and seemingly fighting a losing battle as they had made no further progress until approaching the penultimate.
Cashmoll and Zac Baker (left) at the last, but they just failed to catch Happy Larry on the flat
The mare was now getting into full stride and passed a couple of tiring horses on the final bend and had improved sufficiently to claim second place entering the home straight.
Happy Larry still had a 2-length advantage at the last but Cashmoll continued to press her claims for victory but eventually ran out of time.
AVON VALE RESULTS
4 & 5 YEAR OLD MAIDEN
1ST FAMOUS CLERMONT W BIDDICK 9-4
3RD TROOPER JONES
1ST MISS SEAGREEN MISS H LEWIS 6-
2ND SOUTHFIELD THEATRE
3RD CAPTAIN BUCKS
1ST SALVATORE A EDWARDS EVENS
3RD TRIO FOR RIO
RESTRICTED – DIVISION I
1ST SECOND TIME AROUND W THIRLBY 5-1
2ND GREY GETAWAY
RESTRICTED – DIVISION II
1ST HAPPY LARRY J TURNER 14-1
CONDITIONS – DIVISION I
1ST APPLES QUEEN MISS N PARKER 14-1
2ND TROJAN STAR
3RD EMERALD CHIEFTAN
CONDITIONS – DIVISION II
1ST NO LIMITATIONS B GIBBS 3-1
2ND MINIM MOUSE
3RD ALWAYS LION
MAIDEN – 6 YEAR OLD AND UPWARDS
1ST MAITREE EXPRESS S WALEY COHEN EVENS
2ND JASMIN DES BORDES
3RD COTTON ROCK
Those who preferred Live Streaming from a comfy armchair in front of a warm fire definitely got the better of the bargain as those people who were allowed to attend the Barbury International meeting suffered with cold, damp and miserable conditions which worsened throughout the day.
Despite the presence of bookmakers in both zones, the market lacked a competitive edge and this resulted in some extraordinary SP’s, especially in the Mixed Open where Marcle Ridge, who had finished 6th in last year’s Foxhunters started at 10-1, while Jatiluwith a wide margin winner at Bishops Court was returned the odds-on favourite, and The Dellercheckout went off at 5-2.
West Midland supporters must have been astonished by the bookmaker’s generosity because Marcle Ridge was never headed, with Hannah Lewis giving the horse an exemplary ride on their first outing together.
Experience has proved that front running tactics suit Clive Bennett’s 8-year-old and apart from a couple of minor errors the performance was faultless.
As the runners emerged from the gloom at halfway, Marcle Ridge was still setting a strong pace but was being chased by Tuff Nano and Cultivator while Jatiluwith was hot on their heels.
Will Biddicks mount lost touch as the field started the climb towards the 12th and Jatiluwith was well out of contention when pulled up soon afterwards.
Front running performances always catch the eye but make horses vulnerable at the end of a race because they have failed to maintain sufficient reserves. This was never a major cause for concern for Hannah Lewis who piled on the pressure as Tuff Nano and Cultivator continued their harrowing tactics.
Immy Robinson and The Dellercheckout moved into fourth half a mile from home but were always struggling to bridge the gap, which meant that Marcle Ridge came out of the final dip with a 5-length advantage.
The opposition began to feel the pressure at this point because the leader kept up his relentless gallop before blemishing his copybook with an error at the final obstacle.
Marcle Ridge and Hannah Lewis put their rivals to the sword in the Mixed Open
This crowned a wonderful weekend for Clive Bennett and trainers Sam Jukes and Lucy Smith, who had scored with Miss Seagreen at Larkhill the previous day.
Jukes was keen to emphasise this was very much a team effort at Blacklands Farm. “It has taken a long time to get to know how to ride him. I have known Hannah for a long time and I thought her style would suit him. She is keen to get to her 100th winner (hopefully this season) and we will do all we can to help her. He is a big galloping type and the course played to his strengths. It is sad that Clive cannot be here but he is watching at home”.
Hannah Lewis, Sam Jukes and Lucy Smith with Marcle Ridge
Lewis was unlucky not to complete a double as I’m Wiser Now was caught in the final strides of Division I of the older Maiden by Ifyoucanseemenow.
Didn’t I do well !
Clive Bennett and Jim Collett have been lifelong supporters of the sport and the latter who celebrated his 85th birthday the previous day was another to take advantage of Live Streaming, and hoping I’m Wiser Now could claim victory.
The favourite was tucked away at the back of the field for the first circuit but made such rapid progress from the 11th that they were in front two fences later.
I’m Wiser Now was battling it out with Eastern Promise and Boygochasing at the end of the back straight but had taken their measure before mistake at the second from home halted their progress.
Lewis’s mount was still in front at the last but had nothing in reserve when Nick Phillips and Ifyoucanseemenow stormed up the run in to claim the prize in the final 25 yards.
Ifyoucanseemenow and Nick Phillips (nearside) grab I’m Wiser Now in the final strides
Mel Rowley took both Divisions of the Flat Race with Autumn Equinox landing the first, while stablemate He’s a Knowall scored an impressive win in Division II.
Autumn Equinox, a son of September Storm was in the first three throughout but was caught on the outside as Rose Above it and Little Pretender battled it out turning back towards home.
That proved a benefit in disguise because the winner then had the running rail to guide him and was able to claim victory 50 yards from home.
Autumn Equinox provides Alex Edwards with the first leg of a double
He was brought for 24,000 gns at Goffs Land Rover Sales in 2018, while the winner of Division II was brought privately at Goffs Spring Sales the same year.
He’s a Knowall and Fountains Chief had the race to themselves during the final half mile, but Alex Edwards’s mount shot into a clear lead bypassing two out and extended his advantage with every stride as they raced towards the judge.
He’s a Knowall sprints to victory in Division II of the Flat Race
David Minton explained afterwards “Phil sneaked off to buy him privately from Paul Cashman. He showed us nothing last year but has filled out dramatically and has improved no end”.
Zac Baker came in for a spare ride on Ingeborg Zilling in Division I of the Mares Maiden. An inmate of Tom Ellis’s stable she would no doubt have been ridden by his wife Gina before she suffered an horrific fall at Cheltenham on Friday afternoon.
Her fractured eye socket and cheekbone are due to be assessed by a specialist in mid-week and connections will then have a better idea for how long she may have to remain on the side-lines.
Ned Fox and Diva du Maquis were vying for the lead until their challenge petered out at the third from home in the Mares Maiden and she should be seen to better effect when conditions improve.
Diplomatic Sivola and Barney Dwan started joint favourites for Division II of the Novice Riders and they proved inseparable for most of the 3-mile journey. They matched one another stride for stride during the second half of the race and it became a two horse race a long way from home.
The scales seemed to tip one way then another before Barney Dwan held a narrow lead in the home straight but Ben Sutton’s mount was soon back on level terms and with his rival tiring the partnership forged clear approaching the final obstacle.
FLAT – DIVISION I
1ST AUTUMN EQUINOX A EDWARDS EVENS
2ND ROSE ABOVE IT
FLAT – DIVISION II
1ST HE’S A KNOWALL A EDWARDS EVENS
2ND FOUNTAINS CHIEF
3RD STORM CIARA
MARES MAIDEN – DIVISION I
1ST INGEBORG ZILLING Z BAKER 1-2
2ND KATES LANE
3RD BEES AND HONEY
MARES MAIDEN – DIVISION II
1ST SO SOCKSY D ANDREWS 2-1
2ND GLIMPSE OF GLADYS
3RD DIVA DU MAQUIS
1ST MARCLE RIDGE MISS H LEWIS 10-1
2ND TUFF NANO
3RD THE DELLERCHECKOUT
NOVICE RIDEERS – DIVISION I
1ST FIFTY SHADES D ELLIS 3-1
2ND AZURE FLY
3RD CHELTENHAM MATI
NOVICE RIDERS – DIVISISON II
1ST DIPLOMATE SIVOLA B SUTTON 6-4
2ND BARNEY DWAN
3RD MINELLA FRIEND
6-YEAR-OLD MAIDEN – DIVISION I
1ST IFYOUCANSEEMENOW N PHILLIPS 12-1
2ND I’M WISER NOW
3RD EASTER PROMISE
6-YEAR-OLD MAIDEN – DIVISION II
1ST DAWNIE BOY B GIBBS EVENS
3RD COLLEGE FIELD