by Brian & Gill Armstrong

The South & West Wilts Hunt held its annual point-to-point meeting on Easter Saturday, 19th April, at Larkhill. The highlight was a first-ever win for owner-rider Justin Myerscough-Walker in an eventful Open Maiden race, while the organisers were keen to credit the South & West Wilts farmers for all their efforts in watering the course.

The opening Hunt race went to Pharnisky and Alex-Charles-Jones who survived a mistake two out to hold off Merry Shot and Jamie Snowden. Pharnisky is trained at Bishopstrow by Sarah Waugh and was a first-ever winner for the 12 members of the Fuzzy Logic Racing Partnership, a syndicate headed by Martin Lilley who was given the horse by previous owner John Studd.

Handy Hill and Alex Charles-Jones looked to have the three-runner Open Maiden in safekeeping when Centurion Boy refused at the seventh and High Sturt ran out and unseated at the 14th. However, Handy Hill fell three out leaving the remounted High Sturt to complete the course and finish alone. This was a first-ever win from just five rides for Penselwood owner-rider Justin Myerscough-Walker, 39, who began his race-riding career this season. Justin bought High Sturt two years ago and is likely to retire her to the paddocks at the end of the season. 

The Gerrard Ladies’ Open went for the second year running to Mostyn and Rilly Goschen who were well clear when sole rival Forbidden Waters parted company with Charlotte Tizzard at the second last. Mostyn is owned by farmer Roger Weaver of Frampton Cotterell, near Bristol, and is trained at Thornbury by John E Tuck.  This was Mostyn’s fourth course success and he may now be aimed at the Final of the series at Wetherby on 22nd May.

Despite a tendency to jump left, Sue Woodhouse’s Badger Beer was an easy winner of the Men’s Open under Nick Mitchell. Badger Beer was in his element on the fast surface and should be followed while current conditions prevail, especially if appearing on a left handed course

Two went to post for the PPORA Club Members Novice Riders’ race with 18-year-old Granville Grill a hot favourite to make up for last year’s unfortunate disqualification. However Granville Grill had no answer as Cucklington forged ahead in the final mile for a 12-length success. This was a second riding success for owner Jason Ferguson, formerly from Stowell near Templecombe but now London-based.

Spring Gold, who gave Jason his first winner at Parham in March, made the early running in the closing Restricted race.  Odds-on favourite Shamrock Lad took over five out and held Caundle Chase by 12 lengths, with Summer Pudding in third. Shamrock Lad is owned and trained near Badminton by David Dando and was partnered by 42-year-old West Littleton rider Stephen Bush who recalled partnering such good horses as Double Silk and Cool Relation as well as winning the 4 mile National Hunt Chase on Lucky Vane at the 1981 Cheltenham National Hunt Festival.