by Brian & Gill Armstrong

Despite bitterly cold weather, spectators enjoyed an excellent day’s racing at the South Dorset Hunt’s point-to-point at Milborne St Andrew on Sunday. 

Trainer Sally Alner’s four winners were highlighted by a first-ever win for 19-year-old Stoke Wake rider Dan Drake and by Kingscliff’s easy win in the Men’s Open. 

The opening 13-runner Restricted race went to Tony’s Time, who led four out for a comfortable 12 length success under Nick Mitchell. The horse is one of four owned and trained by solicitors Sarah and Nigel Faulks at their South Molton home. Sarah and Nigel bought Tony’s Time and his dam, Time Warp, seven years ago. 

Bardon Boy and Rupert Tory led two out to take the Hunt race by 10 lengths from Spring Marathon, with Chism back in third. This was a second career winner for Reading University graduate Rupert, 24, who is keen to take up a job in the racing industry. Bardon Boy is owned by Rupert’s parents, Norman and Monica, and brother Andrew, and is trained by Monica at Winterborne Whitechurch, just a few miles from the course. Norman recalled training Buckshee, ridden by Monica to win the corresponding race at Badbury Rings back in 1971.

The Ladies’ Open went to Jill Miller’s Miss O’Grady and Rachel Green, who were left well clear when the challenging Mister Benjamin, a first ride for 20-year-old Chloe Roddick, departed at the second last. Miss O’Grady is likely to be aimed at the Dick Woodhouse Hunter Chase at Wincanton on 6th March, while Mister Benjamin is definitely one to look out for in the future. 

Arnold Sendall’s Kingscliff qualified for the Cheltenham Foxhunters with an unchallenged win in the Men’s Open under Richard Young. Kingscliff was bought as a three-year-old in Ireland and is named after a covert close to Arnold’s North Petherton home. Kingscliff has recovered well from a hairline fracture of his pedal bone sustained last autumn and looks a worthy favourite to bring the Cheltenham Foxhunters Challenge Cup back to the West Country on 13th March. 

Oscar Wilde made most of the running to take the Countryside Alliance Club Members Novice Riders race and give 19-year-old Stoke Wake rider Dan Drake his first winner from just four rides. Oscar Wilde jumped beautifully for Dan, who has been associated with the Alner yard for six years. Trainer Sally Alner was especially keen to credit former owner Paul Green who gave Oscar Wilde as a schoolmaster for the stable staff to ride in point-to-points. 

Division One of the Confined Maiden went to Ardmore and Amanda Bush who were prominent throughout and forged clear of Kitford with Scarlet Glory in third. Ardmore is trained at Cullompton by Amanda’s mother Ollie, and is owned by step-father Grant Cann.  

Sally Alner completed her four-timer in Division Two when Dido Harding steered Proby Lady home ahead of Cruisewell and Panhandle, the only other finishers. Proby Lady was bought privately in Ireland four months ago for Dido and London patent attorney Alice Findlay as a replacement for their Cardinal Gayle, retired to the South Dorset hunting field. 

Racing enthusiasts can enjoy a pre-Cheltenham Festival Review Night with top NH trainer Paul Nicholls in Ansty on March 9.  All profits from the evening will go towards the restoration of St James’ Church, Milton Abbas.  For enquiries/tickets call (01258) 881275.