First Winner for Lucy Smith at Larkhill
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 Bennett's mare into the leader’s slipstream and made Southfield Theatre look pedestrian as they stormed into a 5-length lead. 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.
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 favourite's efforts on the flat.
Responsibility for the horses at Clive Bennett's 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 yard's 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 mare's 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 Ashton Farms 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 mounts 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”.
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.
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 Retraining of Racehorses & Jockey Club Veterans Conditions race. 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.
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. 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 Launa Vaughan 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.
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.