by Brian & Gill Armstrong

The 14 Regiment Royal Artilleryís point-to-point at Larkhill Racecourse on Salisbury Plain closed the Wessex Areaís 2004 season on Wednesday evening (26th May). The highlight was the victory of 16-year-old Mounthenry Star in the Ladiesí Open, while Richard Burton closed to within three winners of Ashley Farrant by taking the Intermediate race.

The opening Ablington Challenge race, a 9f charity flat race staged in aid of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance Appeal, went to favourite Travellerís Tale who caught longtime leader Montyís Theme in the last furlong with Darkarrow back in third. Travellerís Tale was ridden by East Garston trainer Pat Murphy, whose Supreme Glory finished second in the 2003 Grand National.

The Restricted race went to Hawkers Hill who made the early running and re-asserted in the straight to give Rilly Goschen her 14th winner of the season. This was a second career win for Hawkers Hill, who is owned by retired Shaftesbury vet Alan Carter and wife Margaret.

The Confined went to the Ali Tory-trained Golden Jack and David Dunsdon, who made the early running and regained the lead two out. This was a first-ever point-to-point winner for Pulborough owner Johnny Morris, a Lloyds Insurance broker, who bought Golden Jack on Davidís recommendation out of Gilles Chaignonís Caen yard in France last year. Golden Jack is usually ridden by Johnnyís son Charlie, 24, who was present on Wednesday and looking forward to taking the ride again next season.

The Ladiesí Open was won by 16-year-old Mounthenry Star, who clocked 5m 59sec in a tremendous front running display under Charlotte Tizzard. This was Mounthenry Starís first run of the season and he is a credit to Naunton trainer Jelly Nolan and Cirencester owner Vanessa Ramm, who was away on holiday in Portugal.

Ashley Farrantís hopes of a 50th winner of the season were dashed when Kingsbridge was beaten in a match for the Menís Open by Porlock Hill and Neil Harris, winners of the corresponding race in 2003. Porlock Hill is trained by Jeremy Scott at his stables on the edge of Wimbleball Lake near Dulverton for staunch Chelsea fan Gary Lever, who bought the horse privately from Sue Popham after he had failed to reach his reserve at Ascot Sales in 2002.

The Open Maiden race went to Born Winner, who passed Ron Miel on the run-in. This was a first-ever point-to-point winner for rider Wayne Kavanagh, 21, who works at Brendan Powellís Winchester stable. Born Winner is trained at Alresford near Winchester by Lindsay Bower, who bought the horse as a four-year-old out of Henry Cecilís Newmarket stables.

Richard Burton reduced the championship deficit to three when riding his 46th winner of the season on Snowtre in the closing Intermediate race. Snowtre is trained at Broome, near Kidderminster, by Helen Needham for her father, Jim Callow, who recalled their Forest Fountain winning at Larkhill in 2000. Snowtre relishes fast ground and could provide Burton with further success during the final two weeks of the season.